The numbers speak. Among people living in rural areas and the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, 50% still live below the poverty line.[1] That means managing on less than 50 USD every month. [2] In the cities, meanwhile, not even 15% are this poor. Other indicators have a similar relation. The average number of years in school is only 4 in rural areas while people in the cities count with almost 9 years of education. I can go on citing numbers for chronic malnutrition, dying before the age of 5, teen pregnancies and use of corporal punishment – the situation for children in rural areas of the country is nothing less than a national challenge.

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, but was recently ‘upgraded’ by the World Bank to the category of Low Middle Income countries. In general terms the economy has improved and even investment in children has increased. The national budget for education, for example, increased by more than USD $30 million annually between 2011 and 2015. But still it is insufficient to fill the gaps related to educational coverage and quality of education. In short, these funds are not reaching all children, leaving some behind.

Anielka is 17 and lives with her parents and two younger sisters in the rural community of San Francisco de Peñas Blancas, in the North of Nicaragua. It takes 4 hours to reach the community by car from the capital city Managua and only 175 families live here. Her father cultivates coffee and her mother helps. When it’s time to harvest, Anielka and her sisters need to work to help the family. Despite the remoteness of the community, children have access to secondary education, but it is only offered on Sundays.

We asked Anielka what she would do if she was the President of the country, how would she spend the money?

"If I were president I would designate more resources to the rural area because this is where most children don’t have access to quality education and their rights are not respected because they are like the abandoned group, since most things are in the capital. I think that when there is investment in childhood you can create a better future for each child, and can continue in school, continue studying and have a better life."

It is true that investment in children’s education can lead to a better life. Data shows that every additional year of schooling for a child increases his or her future earnings by about 10 percent.[3]

And by reducing health inequality by one percent per year, a study shows that country’s annual rate of GDP growth can increase by 0.15 percent.[4] Thus, the entire country would gain from an increased investment in health and education for the poorest children living in rural areas of Nicaragua.

Violence against children is a third area where children in rural areas are suffering more than those living in the cities, although this problem is quite widespread at a national level as well. Growing up with violence seriously affects a child’s development, dignity, and physical and psychological integrity. Ending violence against children, along with providing children with quality education and healthcare are all part of the Sustainable Development Goals and defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Nicaragua in 1990.

To reach these goals, the drastic inequity in Nicaragua needs to be addressed and children in rural areas cannot be left behind. Investing in Every Last Child must become a national priority for a truly prospering Nicaragua where girls like Anielka can go to school every day and have the same chances to reach their full potential as children born in different circumstances.