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UNICEF organizes 1000 km horseback trek to put spotlight on situation of Uruguay’s rural schoolchildren

MONTEVIDEO, 9 November 2007 – UNICEF in Uruguay is putting the spotlight on children's issues generally, and rural education issues in particular, with a unique 1000-km cross-country horseback trek. The trek begins on 11 November in the far North of Uruguay and ends on 9 December with a finale that brings horse riders from UNICEF, the government, the private sector, civil society and the diplomatic community to the steps of Parliament in Montevideo, culminating in a national commitment for children.

Under the theme ‘One thousand kilometers for Uruguay’s children’, the trip will be kicked off in the village Bella Unión, in the northernmost tip of the country, and will take participants down south through 11 of the country’s 19 provinces.

“This is an unprecedented project in UNICEF’s history,” said UNICEF Representative in Uruguay Tom Bergmann-Harris who is leading the initiative. “We wanted to reach children who are usually hard to reach to gain direct information about them and have a better understanding of their situation.”

More than 24,000 children in Uruguay attend 1,146 rural schools. Due to lack of resources, these schools do not have the necessary materials to guarantee quality education. Approximately 15 per cent of rural schools have no libraries.

During this trip, UNICEF will visit 27 rural schools and deliver 35 mobile libraries which will then be shared with the community. Each library is composed of 80 books for children, adolescents and their families. Students and teachers will also participate in reading promotion activities, and meetings with local authorities and social actors will be held to mobilize the community in favour of the rights of children and adolescents.

Upon their return to Montevideo, the riders will proceed to the Parliament building to reaffirm the country’s commitment to children’s rights. Representatives of a wide range of social sectors will sign a pledge stating concrete goals to be achieved in education and child rights in the years to come.

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 more information, please contact:
Najwa Mekki, UNICEF New York, +1-212-326-7162, nmekki@unicef.org
Maria José Giró, UNICEF Uruguay, +598-2-403-0308, mjgiro@unicef.org




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