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UNICEF urges leaders to increase commitment to education

BRUSSELS, 2 May 2007 – UNICEF today joins political leaders and education advocates in their call for more and faster aid for education. The call comes at a high-level meeting focusing on the theme ‘Keeping our promises on education’.

“In 2000, the world made a commitment to send all boys and girls to school by 2015,” UNICEF’s Programme Director Alan Court said. “We are now at the half-way mark and without the necessary commitment, determination and resources, we will be failing millions of children worldwide.”

Net primary-school enrolment increased considerably over the past few years, and more girls are attending school now than before. However, many countries – particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia – are not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals of universal primary education and gender equality.

The meeting, held in Brussels, Belgium, at the initiative of the European Commission, the UK Treasury and the World Bank, seeks to obtain concrete proposals and a commitment from the international community to step up efforts to keep the promise of sending all the world’s children to school by 2015.

“There should be more aid that is better aligned with national priorities and delivered at a faster rate to meet local needs in a more predictable manner,” Court said.

While enrolment rates have increased, the number of school-age children not attending school or dropping out remains high.

In addition, the quality of education has not kept pace with the gains achieved in access, and challenging questions remain about what children are learning and how well they are being prepared for the future.

“Ensuring that children are healthy and receive the nutrition and stimulation they need for their cognitive development, that they go to school and obtain quality education in a safe environment, that their education is not disrupted during an emergency, and that they are prepared for the real world when they finish their education – these are some of the challenges that we still need to address,” Court said.

About the conference:
The conference on ‘Keeping our promises on education’ is hosted by the European Commission and co-convened by the World Bank and the UK Government. Further information is available on http://www.promises-on-education.org/.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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.

For further information, please contact:

Najwa Mekki, UNICEF New York, Tel.: +1-212-326- 7162; nmekki@unicef.org




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