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Press release

Indian cricket team spotlight girls’ education campaign in South Asia

CHENNAI/INDIA, 6 July 2004 – The Indian cricket team today took time out from final preparations for the Asia Cup to highlight one of the biggest development challenges facing India and the South Asia region – the millions of children not in school, the majority of who are girls.

Speaking on behalf of the team, Saurav Ganguly, the team captain, declared their support for UNICEF’s ‘Fair Play for Girls’ education campaign. “We know the importance of education, its importance as a foundation in life”, Ganguly said. “When girls lose their chance to go to school, we all lose. Fair Play for Girls recognizes that girls in India and South Asia face an uneven playing field.”

The words rang true for Nirja Kumari and Neelam Bharti who shared with the players what it means to them to be able to go to school and to have the opportunities to take part in sport. The two girls are from Uttar Pradesh where the gender gap in literacy is 27 points. They both attend the ‘Pahla Kadam’ for adolescent girls, organized by the Government of UP and UNICEF. The one year of schooling provides quality primary education to adolescent girls who missed the opportunity to go to school at the right age. Ninety per cent of the girls from this course are continuing with further studies.

The popularity and huge appeal of cricket in South Asia is adding great momentum to UNICEF’s efforts in girls’ education. A new partnership with the Asian Cricket Council was formed last month and will seek to highlight the need to accelerate enrolment and retention of girls in school, and emphasize children’s right to play. These messages will feature at this month’s Asia Cup in Colombo through Fair Play for Girls.

UNICEF State Representative for Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Tim Schaffter, said “We are delighted that the Indian cricket team, the ACC and the Board for Cricket Control in India are all strong and active partners in promoting the rights of children.

“Girls’ education has been shown to have multiplier effects in other areas as well”, Ganguly said. “Let’s not get caught out. Let’s get our sisters and daughters into school.”


For further information, please contact:

Thomas George
Communication Officer
UNICEF Chennai
Tel. 044-24344051/24350332





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