“UNICEF is pleased to have engaged the private sector in promoting education in this country,” said UNICEF’s Officer in Charge, Francisco Basili. “We are confident that our partnership with Orange/France Telecom will contribute to keeping more girls in school as well as to encourage other corporations to engage in the cause for children’s rights.”
While Madagascar is one of the few countries in Africa where hardly any disparities exist in primary enrollment rates between girls and boys, fewer girls complete the five year cycle. They also face greater challenges in continuing their studies.
Funding from Orange/France Telecom will be targeted to those areas of the country where girls often drop out, either because schools are far, or because they are sent off to work as domestic servants or because they are married off early or become pregnant.
In these areas, in partnership with Madagascar’s government, UNICEF has launched a “Girl-to-Girl” strategy that links younger and older girls from the same village. Older girls take the younger ones to and from school as well as help them with their homework and school life. Parents and community members are actively encouraged to support these “mentoring” activities, which have shown to have learning and confidence building benefits for all the girls involved.
Orange and France Telecom will also support activities to promote sports and better literacy skills in the schools targeted by the Girl-to Girl strategy.
“We know that keeping girls in school has tremendous benefits for the girls themselves, their families and communities. This is why we were so inspired by this project when we first heard about it,” added Orange’s Director-General in Madagascar, Patrice Pezat. “We have a corporate responsibility to the people we serve and particularly the next generation.”
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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