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Executive Director starts Middle East visit with tour of school projects in Jordan

© UNICEF Jordan/2009
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman (right) visits the library of the Al Ruwwad Centre, which serves disadvantaged children in Amman, Jordan; beside her are UNICEF Representative in Jordan Anne Skatvedt and Regional Director Sigrid Kaag.

NEW YORK, USA, 4 March 2009 – UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman has just concluded a two-day mission to Jordan as part of a Middle East trip that includes planned visits to Israel and to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

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In Amman, Veneman toured schools and held meetings with senior officials, including Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, who is also UNICEF’s first-ever Eminent Advocate for Children. Queen Rania has been an active advocate for children’s issues and UNICEF’s work in Jordan and beyond.

Her Majesty strongly advocated for the rights of Palestinian children during the recent conflict in Gaza, and her country has played a pivotal role in supporting the population of Gaza through aid delivery.

Toward universal primary education
In Jordan, 99 per cent of primary school-age boys and girls are attending school, and the country is well on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals on universal primary education and gender parity in schooling. At the same time, Jordan’s schools have enrolled more than 250,000 Iraqi refugees and hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children.

Veneman visited several schools, where she spoke with students and teaching staff. Of particular concern to UNICEF is a recent study showing that more than half of children in Jordan have experienced physical violence in school settings.
“Violence against children in schools is unacceptable and should not be tolerated,” Veneman said.

UNICEF works closely with partners in Jordan to tackle the issue by raising awareness of the need to make schools safe and nurturing environments that promote children’s education and development.

Working with religious leaders
In Jordan, as elsewhere, religious leaders play an important role in raising awareness about children’s rights and the principles of child care, respect, protection and non-discrimination between boys and girls.

© UNICEF video
Jordan is on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals on universal primary education and gender equality, but violence in schools is a serious concern.

UNICEF and partners in Jordan have trained 600 imams in how to teach parents better child-rearing practices and parenting skills. More than 130,000 families have benefited from this initiative.

The use of religious leaders and their moral authority in teaching principles of child rights to parents and families is an efficient way to reach out to the wider community, Veneman said at a meeting with imams and parents. The religious community is a powerful advocacy channel, she added.




3 March 2009: UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on the visit by Executive Director Ann M. Veneman to UNICEF-supported schools in Amman, Jordan.
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