|Participants in the UNICEF-supported Race for Education in Buenos Aires, Argentina.|
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, 5 April 2010 – A few days before the start of classes, some 5,000 people took part in Argentina’s ‘Race for Education’, a three- and seven-kilometer foot race that was organized by UNICEF for the third consecutive year.
The Race for Education is designed to mobilize families in support of education. The event aims to increase awareness of children’s basic right to receive quality education, as well as to strengthen adults’ commitment to this right. The 14 March race also generated support from the private sector, local artists, public officials, journalists, youths and families, who all came together to run for children.
A symbolic event
The runners – children, adolescents and adults of all ages – gathered in Buenos Aires’ Palermo Park at nine in the morning and prepared for the start. The first wave of runners were public school students aged 9 to 12, who inaugurated the first 50 meters of the track as onlookers applauded enthusiastically.
|Andrés Franco, UNICEF Representative in Argentina (left), and Argentina’s Minister of Education of Alberto Sileoni display a UNICEF Race for Education team shirt in Buenos Aires.|
UNICEF Argentina ambassador Julián Weich coordinated the start of the race and encouraged the participants. Throughout the event, the runners symbolically covered the whole education cycle, from the 1st grade to 5th year. Those who made it to the finish line ‘graduated’.
Since Argentina’s National Education Law 26.206 was passed in 2006, UNICEF has organized the race as a call for the law’s implementation. Among other things, the law increased the period of mandatory schooling from 10 to 13 years, established a common education structure for all the regions in the country and promoted bilingual, intercultural education for Argentina’s indigenous population.
Bringing partners together
“This year the Race for Education exceeded our expectations,” said Andrés Franco, UNICEF Representative in Argentina. “Five thousand people were mobilized for education in the country and supported the work of UNICEF in Argentina.”
He added that the qualities of personal effort and commitment – just like those necessary to run a race – were essential to creating a strong and unified education system. “Contributing to improving education is a job for everybody – families, the Government, the teachers, the private sector, the media and the children,” he said.
|Students from Government-funded schools in Buenos Aires, Argentina, ranging from ages 9 to 12, participate in a UNICEF-supported Race for Education.|
Among the winners were Eugenia Arias Cebollada and Natalia Castillejo, a mother and daughter who train together every day. Ms. Cebollada, a doctor, won third place in the ladies’ category for seven kilometers, while her daughter Natalia, 16, was second in the shorter version of the race, which is three kilometers long.
“Educating also means accompanying your children, seeing them grow, and sharing activities with them,” said Ms. Cebollada. “The UNICEF Race for Education is a good opportunity to run with one’s children… [and highlight] the importance of accessing and completing school.”
Funds for education
The Race for Education raised approximately $100,000 for UNICEF education projects in Argentina. Among other goals, the projects seek to improve the quality of education, reduce drop-out rates, and promote the inclusion of children and adolescents in school.
The Race received the significant support from the private sector, including Cablevisión, Coca-Cola de Argentina, Procter & Gamble, the Government of the City of Buenos Aires and other partners.