CAPE TOWN, 6 December 2004 - The Nelson Mandela Foundation, UNICEF and the Hamburg Society for the Promotion of Democracy and International Law, today launched a joint international campaign “Child Friendly Schools for Africa”, which aims to accelerate access to quality basic education for children, with special focus on girls, orphans and vulnerable children in six African countries, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
To Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of South Africa, the campaign is a significant contribution to his legacy and vision for the education of African children and the alleviation of poverty particularly in the rural communities of the continent. “It is my passion that every child in Africa goes to school. Education is the pathway to freedom, democracy and development”, Mr. Mandela said, speaking at the launch of the joint campaign at Mandela Rhodes Foundation headquarters in Cape Town, South Africa.
In the “Child Friendly Schools for Africa” programme, UNICEF and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have joined forces to mobilize villages and communities throughout Africa to take responsibility for making sure that the schools built are “child-friendly”. At minimum, a child–friendly school serves children’s education needs better by adopting a participatory learning methodology and ensuring a safe and protective environment for children. Such schools make sure that children learn and play in healthy spaces and provide access to clean water and sanitation. In addition, they are gender sensitive, have strong links to surrounding communities and have outreach services for orphans and other vulnerable children, UNICEF says.
The campaign will support the construction and rehabilitation of schools and the provision of education materials. It will develop training programmes for teachers and strengthen school governance and management. As a first step, “child-friendly” schools shall be set up as models in the six countries and, together UNICEF and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, a worldwide call for donations in support of the school building programme will begin.
In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, approximately 45 million children do not go to school. This means that almost every second child grows up behind an invisible wall of ignorance, poverty and discrimination.
“No other investment has such a lasting effect as the education of children”, says Per Engebak, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Children who go to school are healthier, more self-assured and can more easily assume a profession. Furthermore, education is the only effective “vaccine” against HIV/AIDS.”
“The development of the children of Africa is the concern of each and every one of us”, said ship owner Peter Kraemer, Chairman of the Hamburg Society for the Promotion of Democracy and International Law, who laid the foundation for this campaign with a large donation. “In comparison to the people of Africa, we in the industrialized nations have a good life. We have the means to support a better future for African children.”
While more children are enrolled in school all over the world today, the chances of attending classes decrease in Sub-Saharan African countries. According to the latest estimates by UNICEF, at least 40 per cent of boys and 44 per cent of girls in this region do not go to elementary school.
In rural areas in particular, there are not enough functional schools and trained teachers. And even if the children are enrolled, many drop out of school early. Their families are so poor that children often have to work to help support the family. Many girls also do not go to school because many schools do not have separated sanitation facilities.
HIV and AIDS further reduces opportunities for many children to go to school. Some eleven million children have already been orphaned by the deadly disease. If parents fall ill because of HIV and AIDS infection, if they are not able to work and need medical help, they can no longer afford to send their children to school. Girls in particular have the greater burden, first with caring for the ill parents and then, after their death, taking care of their brothers and sisters. Often, they have to drop out of school. Without education, children orphaned by AIDS are not able to provide for their own living, easily fall prey to exploitation and may end up on the streets.
A dream for Africa
UNICEF and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have joined forces to contribute to the right of every African child to education. To achieve this, a network of partners from local and regional administrations, United Nations and non-governmental organizations, school committees, corporations and ministries will be created. The most important action is to mobilize responsibility for the proper functioning of the schools by the villages and communities themselves.
In the six countries, schools will be established mainly in rural areas. In Angola, for instance, communities themselves build classrooms from burnt clay bricks. UNICEF provides cement and timber and coordinates the work. All the schools will be provided with access to clean running water and latrines. Blackboards, books, pens and benches will also be provided. Training courses and training centres for teachers will be organized to facilitate the learning of new teaching and school management methodology. Children’s and youth clubs will be established at the schools to provide information on prevention and protection from HIV and AIDS infection.
UNICEF worldwide and the Nelson Mandela Foundation are requesting support for this initiative by contributions to the “Child Friendly Schools for Africa” campaign:
About $1,000 is needed for teaching and learning materials for 100 children in Rwanda $5,000 is needed to extent 25 GEM (Girl’s Education Movement) clubs and forums in South Africa $10,000 Dollars is needed for a village school with two class rooms in Angola $100,000 is needed to equip 10 schools in Malawi with latrines and clean water.