World Record attempt focuses on girls' education, 9 April 2003
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, welcomed some 350 school children from the New York City area to UN Headquarters today, in a special event organized by UNICEF and the US Fund for UNICEF as part of the Global Week of Action for Girls’ Education. UNICEF’s Executive Director Carol Bellamy , striding up and down the aisles with microphone in hand, moving from one eager student to the next, transformed a packed, formal UN conference room into a buzz of challenging questions and answers about the facts of girls’ education in countries around the world.
In his welcome to “the house of the people,” the Secretary-General reinforced the main message of the day: that to ensure health, peace and equality, “the classrooms of the world have to be full of girls as well as boys.” His remarks were expanded throughout the morning by a team of “teachers’ including Mrs. Nane Annan who spoke about her personal experiences meeting young girls from around the world and appealed to the children to stay involved with the issues of children’s rights and girls’ education, UNICEF Special Representative Angelique Kidjo who officially led the “lesson” part of the morning, and Carol Bellamy who returned to the stage at the end to lead the group in a pledge of “Go, Girls !!! Education for every child.”
Somewhat cautiously at first, but quickly picking up their confidence, the students expressed their opinions on a range of issues including the nature of human rights, the importance of a good education, and why girls are sometimes treated differently to boys. Many of their questions focussed on what can be done to get more girls into school.
In closing the event, Carol Bellamy asked the children to let everyone at the UN know exactly why they were there. Shouting in chorus, they read each point of Go Girls! Education for Every Child, UNICEF’s global pledge campaign. They made their demands for every child heard: the Best Start, the Best Schools, the Best Teachers, Protection and Safety, and Fairness.
The day was part of UNICEF’s broader initiative to get as many girls as boys into school in 25 countries around the world by 2005: the ’25 by 2005 Girls’ Education Campaign’. The lessons learned during this period will be applied to accelerating girls’ education in other countries until all the world’s children enjoy their right to a quality education.
Events took place in more than 100 countries around the world today, drawing in more than 1.3 million people and in the process trying to break the Guinness World Record for the largest lesson ever held.
"Biggest lesson ever, 9 April"