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In a first for Madagascar, 90 school children present action plan to National Assembly

ANTANANARIVO, 13 May 2004 -  In a first for Madagascar, 90 students from schools in Fianarantsoa and Antananarivo, two of the country’s six provinces, arrived at the National Assembly this morning to present their “dossiers” to both the President and Deputies of the National Assembly.

"This was an incredibly novel experience for me, " said a student from a rural village in Fianarantsoa. ”I never thought that we would actually be able to present our problems and solutions to the Deputies. I couldn’t believe such a scenario would ever be possible for a poor boy like myself from a village so far away from this city. But this experience has built my confidence and made me forget that I am poor because I feel that at least someone has listened to me.”

This initiative – to build the participation of children and foster civic education in society – is part of a broader effort, supported by both UNICEF and PACT with several Government Ministries, most notably the Ministry of Education. It works on several approaches – including the promotion of civic education skills amongst teachers and students as well as the improvement of teaching and learning methods to make schooling more relevant to children’s everyday lives and help builds their confidence as active members of society.

"PACT would like to congratulate the Government for its strong commitment for this initiative, most notably the village chiefs, the mayors, the parents and particularly the teachers -- who helped give these students a sense of what it means to study a problem, identify solutions and then present it for action by decision-makers.” said Yvon Rakotonarivo from PACT.

“Participation encourages children to assume responsibilities, to act as active members of society, to learn tolerance and to understand democratic values,” said Barbara Bentein, UNICEF Representative to Madagascar. “Both UNICEF and PACT hope that this is the first of many such initiatives and that we can continue to collaborate together to find other ways to involve children in decision making, thereby building a world that is truly fit for children.”

For additional information, please contact:

Misbah M. Sheikh
Communication Officer
UNICEF Madagascar
Tel: (261-20) 22 626 45/46




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