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However, chronic malnutrition and anaemia in children under three years of age still persists. The Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), has resulted in high levels of immunization coverage. Access to basic education has increased significantly in recent years with no significant gender differences. Despite a notable increase in school enrolment, only seven per cent of children in rural areas complete primary school within the standard eight years, with girls the worst affected. Over half of rural primary schools offer only three of eight grades.
Approximately 800,000 children under 18 are working. With UNICEF support, the Ministry of Labour launched the National Plan for the Progressive Eradication of Child Labour. However, implementation has been very slow and the worst forms of child labour - such as mining, sugar cane harvesting and sexual exploitation - persist. Around 12,000 children are in institutions where their basic rights are not respected. There are also over 2,500 children living on the streets of major cities. Domestic violence is more visible especially the abuse and mistreatment of children. Some 13 per cent of adolescent girls are pregnant or have already had children. Increased sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, are growing concerns.