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Schools for Africa campaign expands to help millions more children

NEW YORK, 15 September 2009 - Education for millions of children in Africa received a major boost today as UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) and the Hamburg Society announced it raised more than $50 million for its Schools for Africa campaign, exceeding its initial target.

UNICEF and its partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in New York, to expand their support to help millions more children receive a quality education.

The partnership was initiated in 2004, to raise money to help over four million children in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The initiative aimed to provide a more safe, protective and accessible learning environment for children and it reached its goal of raising $50 million, one year in advance. The programme has amassed $71 million to date.

Fundraising for Schools for Africa Phase II will be between 2010 and 2013, and will also support Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, a total of 11 countries encompassing not just Eastern and Southern Africa, but also the West and Central African region.

Schools for Africa attribute its fundraising success to the efforts of 26 National Committees around the world.

“Education is a human right. Children have the right to a quality basic education which is central to human development and a main component for achieving all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” said UNICEF Director of Programmes Dr. Nicholas Alipui. “By addressing education challenges with particular attention to issues of access, quality and equity, African countries will be in a better position to benefit from economic growth, industrial development and investment opportunities.”

The campaign is also a way to mainstream UNICEF’s comprehensive Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) approach to ensure a quality education for all children. More than 3.6 million children are currently benefiting from the Child-Friendly Schools interventions, supported by Schools for Africa. This new phase envisions helping millions more.

According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Achmat Dangor, expanding the initiative “will ensure that Mr. Mandela’s wish that education for all, continues to be realized.”

The funds will be used to provide textbooks, chairs, desks and tables, safe drinking water, health checks, school meals, immunization, as well as to rehabilitate or build new classrooms and separate sanitation facilities for girls and boys. Provision will also be made for special care and support to orphans and other vulnerable children and strengthen the linkages between schools and communities through student governance bodies and parent-teacher associations. Children will also benefit from better teaching and learning processes with trained teachers and community members, who will work together to make schools child-friendly.

Despite efforts to promote access to quality education, many African countries are still struggling with the challenges of providing inclusive quality education. Countries grapple with rural-urban disparities, the combined effects of poverty, climate change, the impact of HIV and AIDS, high dropout rates, deep-seated socio-cultural inequalities, the impact of civil conflicts, and sheer lack of basic infrastructure, including lack of water and poor sanitation.

In 2006, some 101 million children,  more than half of them girls, were not attending primary school, according to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2009. Almost half of them live in sub-Saharan Africa. At the current rate, millions of children especially girls, children with disabilities, orphaned and other vulnerable children will remain excluded and be denied their fundamental right to education in 2015.

Peter Kramer, initiator and partner hailed the Phase II campaign as a stride closer to a better world.

“With the expansion of the Schools for Africa initiative, we are not just celebrating this step as a great success, but as a serious commitment to implement and realize what the great man Nelson Mandela said: ‘Education is the key for a better world,’” Mr. Kramer, a key donor of the initiative said.

The signing of the MOU further strengthens the existing partnership between UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Hamburg Society in its ongoing efforts to contribute to Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3, which set specific targets for universal primary education, gender equality, and the empowerment of women.

Programmatic interventions at the country level through UNICEF country offices’ support to Governments will continue to provide the foundation of the campaign. In addition, major individual and corporate partners such as Peter Kramer, Chairperson of the Hamburg Society as well as Gucci, the largest corporate supporter, will continue to contribute to the campaign.


Note to Editors:
The MOU signing ceremony is open to the press and will take place at 11:30 am, 2nd floor conference room of the Church Centre. It’s located at 777, United Nations Plaza (Adjacent to UNICEF House on 44th St, between 1st & 2nd Ave.)

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 additional information, please contact:
Anna Kowsar, UNICEF Geneva,
Tel + 41 22 909 5325,
E-mail: akowsar@unicef.org

Shimali Senanayake, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 917 265 4516,
E-mail: ssenanayake@unicef.org





15 September 2009: UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on a successful partnership that is delivering better education to children in Africa.
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