|© UNICEF Mexico/2006/Ramos|
|A young Mexican girl leans over her school desk. In Mexico, one in 10 children does not finish their primary education.|
By Michael Klaus
MEXICO CITY, Mexico, 23 February 2006 – “If your candidate doesn't know how to improve education, elect another candidate. Cast a vote for education!”
With this slogan, UNICEF´s Advisory Board in Mexico is urging voters to demand that candidates in the upcoming presidential and state elections give priority to the rights of all children to a quality education. The slogan is part of a major communication campaign, launched on 21 February, which includes advertisements on TV and radio, billboards and a website, all of which will be followed by forums with candidates.
During the launch Vicente Corta, President of the UNICEF Mexico Advisory Board, highlighted the enormous effort Mexico has undertaken over the past decades to ensure that all children have access to primary education. “But a lot still needs to be done,” he said.
Between 2000 and today the number of out of school children between 6 and 14 years old has been reduced by half and more than ninety per cent of children of this age group are enrolled in school. However, one in 10 does not finish primary education (grades K-6) and of those who enter secondary school, two out of 10 drop out before finishing their studies.
|© UNICEF Mexico/2006/Mamolar|
|UNICEF Mexico’s Advisory Board launching a campaign to focus the electorate and presidential nominees on child education.|
UNICEF Mexico Representative Yoriko Yasukawa welcomed the Board´s initiative. “The campaign will provide an important impetus towards reaching the goal of 12 years of quality basic education for all children in Mexico.” She referred to Mexico´s commitment to “go beyond” the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and make sure that by 2015 all children can finish three years of pre-school, six years of primary school and three years of secondary school education.
The campaign is being supported by several civil society groups in Mexico, including COPARMEX – a large national association of business leaders – and the Red por los Derechos de la Infancia, a well respected network of NGOs working for children´s rights. Public television station Canal 11 and the private TV and radio company MVS have committed themselves to broadcast the spots in their prime-time programmes.
As part of the campaign meetings have been organised with all five candidates for the Presidency to make sure that they give priority to the issue of education in the election debate and their programmes.
A special website has been created, where the candidates can present their proposals on how to improve the education system in Mexico. There is also space for visitors to comment on the proposals. The website provides information about the remaining challenges and shortcomings in terms of access, quality and equity in education in Mexico with proposals defined by the Board on how to reach the goals for 2015. In addition, visitors can download the video spots.
The Consejo Consultivo, as the Advisory Board is known locally, is a group of prominent Mexican citizens from various walks of life and diverse ideological tendencies, initially established 10 years ago to support UNICEF's work in Mexico. Over the past few years the Board has developed into an important collective voice calling on the public to unite efforts towards the universal guarantee of child rights. Its key activity has been the publication and dissemination of the Child Rights Index, which was featured in SOWCR 2006.