21 April 2005 - For Immediate release
MILLION OF CHILDREN AROUND THE WORLD DEMAND: “SEND MY FRIEND TO SCHOOL”
Activity part of the Global Action Week 24-30 April 21
Education to end poverty and inequality
Young people in South Africa and millions of children in more than 100 countries will join together this week to protest world leaders’ failure to meet a major UN target on girls’ education this year – a failure they say will lead to greater poverty and unnecessary child deaths.
Five years ago, governments of the world promised to get equal numbers of girls as boys into school by 2005. The target – the first of all the UN’s Millennium Development Goals to fall due - will be missed, and experts believe that a second Millennium target for giving every child a quality primary education is also at risk.
Describing lack of progress on the education goals as ‘scandalous’, Global Campaign for Education – South Africa a coalitions of mainly education / development NGO’s and Unions joining with the Global Campaign for Education to mobilise children, teachers and activists to demand faster action by the government and its international partners.
As part of the GCE’s ‘Send my Friend to School’ campaign from April 24-30, children will be presenting politicians, cabinet ministers and even heads of state with colourful cardboard cut-outs, or “friends”, each of which represents one of the more than 100 million children out of school. A million cut-out ‘friends’, collected from around the world, will be delivered to G8 leaders at the G8 Summit in Scotland in July. >From April 24, members of the public can also make an online ‘friend’ at www.sendmyfriend.info.
“Girls’ education is the key to ending world poverty. 2005 marks the year that world leaders have broken their promise to get equal numbers of girls and boys into school. I support the Global Campaign for Education’s call to educate girls to end poverty and call on world leaders to respond to calls from children around the world to 'send my friend to school” said Graca Machel, human rights activist and wife of Nelson Mandela, while making her own ‘friend’ as part of the campaign.
Mr. Mandela delivered his own rallying cry to young people around the world when he met children involved in the Send my Friend to School campaign: “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.” Children from all corners of South Africa will be rising to the challenge set by Mr. Mandela and showing their solidarity with the more than 100 million children around the world and 860 million illiterate adults who have been denied their fundamental right to learning, most of whom are girls and women. Rose Nzikula from Mozambique (age 15) and now living in South Africa’s experience resonates with hundreds of thousands of children in South Africa and adults who are denied a quality education. Some like Jerry Molefe who was a child labourer from age 8 and until age 11 was luckier as Campaign member Sithabile Child and Youth Care Centre assisted to get him into school. He graduates from college this year.
Kailash Satyarthi, GCE chairperson, said: “Enabling girls to attend school is literally a matter of life and death. Education, especially for girls and women, is the best way to break the cycle of ill health, hunger and poverty. Without it we can’t achieve the Millennium Development Goals. World Bank research shows that this year alone, one million additional children will die unnecessarily, because governments failed to meet the 2005 target for girls’ education.”
Ends- For more information please contact GCE-SA
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
WHAT IS THE GCE:
The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is a broad coalition of development and education research agencies and unions, representing organizations active in over 100 countries. Members include Oxfam, Action Aid, Save the Children, PLAN, World Vision, as well as Education International, which represents all Teachers’ Unions around the world. The GCE’s aim is for every child in the world to get a quality education. For more information see: www.campaignforeducation.org
EVENTS DURING THE GLOBAL ACTION WEEK:
During the Week of Action, 24-30 April, various events will be held including visits by children to their national parliaments to present their cut-out ‘friends’, and “Politicians going back to school”, when Members of Parliament will visit classrooms and to meet children and their ‘friends’. As well as marches and rallies to Parliament Buildings with ‘friends’. An estimated 1 million children in 100 countries around the world will take part in the Week of Action in 2005.
‘Friends’ collected from across Niger will be presented by children to the Prime Minister Hama Amadou.
In Peru, out-of-school children will present their ‘friends’ to the President of the Republic, Pres Alejandro Toledo.
In Ghana, both the President and Vice President are set to meet with ‘friends’. The Action Week will be kick-started with a national launch by the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, attended by Ministers and children and culminate on 29 April when a delegation of children and their ‘friends’ will meet the President.
In Spain, three female politicians, from the three main political parties in Spain will be going ‘back to school’ together One of these ‘pupils’ will be the Education Minister, María Jesús Sansegundo
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2004:
During the 2004 Global Week of Action, over 2 million young people and adults in 117 countries spoke out for education – and world leaders, including 14 heads of states and thousands of MPs and legislators, listened to them.
WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN TO GET ALL CHILDREN INTO SCHOOL
Governments to take positive action and invest 6% of GDP in education. Primary education must be free, compulsory and good quality. The needs of illiterate adults must be met. The worst forms of child labour must be stopped. Education of girls and women must take priority.
The World Bank and IMF to write off poor country debt, which eat up the resources needed for education.
Rich countries to double their aid to poor countries, and properly fund the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, which supports countries that are taking positive steps to get every child into school.