2005 critical year to meet UN goal
LONDON, 26 January 2005 - UNICEF today thanked the United Kingdom for its visionary commitment to the education of girls in developing countries with its strategy to advance the work that one day will give all children a basic education.
The UK pledge of £1.4 billion comes as UNICEF intensifies its campaign to meet the UN goal of gender parity in education by 2005. Currently, 115 million children are denied education, most of them girls. The UK government is a partner in the United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI), a UNICEF-led effort to narrow the gender gap in education.
“Investing in education, especially girls’ education, is an urgent matter. Getting children into school is the singularly most effective weapon we have against poverty, disease and insecurity, said Carol Bellamy, UNICEF Executive Director. “With this new strategy, the UK is demonstrating that education is about empowering the poorest nations to cultivate their greatest resource – the children.”
The launch of the new strategy on girls’ education was announced at a press conference following a roundtable discussion on the girls’ education strategy. Five young women from the developing world told Bellamy and the Chancellor Gordon Brown, the Secretary of State Hilary Benn how the UK’s investment in primary and secondary education has enabled them to pursue degree courses, get better paid jobs and become leaders in their communities.
The UK strategy focuses on eliminating school fees, providing nutrition in schools and improving teacher training. Funding will also go to shore up sanitary facilities in schools, a major obstacle to attendance and employment for girls and female teachers in some countries.
Access to basic education, especially girls' education, is one of the UN's top priorities. The end of 2005 is the target for the Millennium Development Goal set by the United Nations in September 2000 to acheive gender parity in education. With the target fast approaching, UNGEI is stepping up efforts to get more girls into school.
While the gender parity global goal is in jeopardy, UNICEF said that until schools open at the new scholastic year, assessments cannot be completed, and in fact there is still the possibility that in some communities, and indeed some countries the 2005 goal might still be met. Moreover, even if the most immediate goal is lost, urgent action is needed if the longer term Millennium goals in 2010 and 2015 are not to meet a similar fate.
The children’s agency has teamed up with a number of sports organizations and private corporations in addition to its work within UNGEI. Among them are: FIFA, Asian Cricket Council, Jetix Kids Cup, the International Olympic Committee, Stora Enso, H&M and Orange.
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About the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI):
Launched in 2000 by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UNGEI's goal is to narrow the gender gap in primary and secondary education by 2005 and to ensure that by 2015, all children complete primary schooling, with girls and boys having equal access to all levels of education. UNGEI is partnership that embraces the UN system, governments, donor countries, non-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector, and communities and families.
For further information, please contact:
Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, 001 917 378 2128
DFID Press office 0044 20 7023 0600
UNICEF Press Office 0044 20 7430 0162