|© UNICEF Argentina/ 2009/Peral|
|Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF Argentina and NBA star player Manu Ginóbili shares a moment with students from School No. 103 in Fontana, Argentina.|
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, 10 August 2009 – On the eve of the International Day of Indigenous Populations, marked on 9 August, Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF Argentina and NBA star player Manu Ginóbili visited a school in Fontana, in the impoverished province of Chaco, Argentina.
Fontana is home to a sizeable population belonging to the indigenous group known as Qom.
Mr. Ginóbili was promoting the 'Cities for Education' initiative, which promotes the right of all children and adolescents to complete their elementary and secondary studies. The initiative is being supported by UNICEF, provincial and local authorities, and non-governmental organizations.
In the province of Chaco, the initiative will reach out to thousands of students from preschool to adult night school, as well as all school administrators and teachers in the province.
For Qom students, the educational challenge is compounded by the fact that they begin school without knowledge of the Spanish language and during their education they receive no instruction in their mother tongue.
Contributions to successful learning
The ‘Cities for Education’ initiative is providing training for teachers and school administrators on successful teaching methods including sequence learning. This method promotes holistic learning through the use of words and concepts that are familiar to the children. Instead of learning single letters, for instance, the children identify each letter with words and sentences which give meaning to the concepts they are learning.
“Strategies such as sequence learning contribute to the success of the first learning experiences of these children, which, in turn, provides them with the incentive to continue their studies,” said UNICEF Representative in Argentina Andres Franco.
“When it comes to Qom students, our efforts must be doubled to make sure that we help fulfil their right not just to an education, but to quality bilingual education as well.”
Reaching out for rights
During his visit to the school, Mr. Ginóbili took part in a language class with the children and emphasized the importance of sport as a powerful tool for child development.
“I am delighted to share this time with the children and to talk about the importance of sport as a way to bridge between studies and fun and in increasing the likelihood that children will remain in school,” he said.
Mr. Ginóbili also visited the Centre for the Promotion of Rights located in the Cacique Pelayo neighbourhood. At the centre, Qom women spoke to him about the importance of having a space where they could learn new skills and gain knowledge about their rights.
‘Cities for Education’ provides cultural activities and links participating schools with health services and child protection systems in order to assist those children who suffer from malnutrition, violence and abuse.