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Football star and UNICEF Ambassador Ole Gunnar Solskjær visits schools in Angola

© UNICEF/2008/ Paulino
UNICEF Norway Ambassador Ole Gunnar Solskjær is greeted warmly by children looking forward to new classrooms being built in Luanda, Angola.

LUANDA, Angola, 29 April 2008 – Superstar footballer and UNICEF Norway Goodwill Ambassador Ole Gunnar Solskjær recently visited Angola to witness the educational reconstruction still required in a country devastated by a civil war that ended nearly six years ago.

Full primary school enrolment, school construction and rehabilitation, as well as teacher training, are crucial to Angola’s future. And the Schools for Africa Campaign – a partnership between UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Hamburg Society – is helping to take on the task.

As Mr. Solskjær discovered, the needs are profound but there is hope for the future.

© UNICEF/2008/ Paulino
Children look on attentively in a classroom in Angola, which does not have enough space in schools for its primary school-age population.

Challenges faced by rural schools

On the first day of his visit, children greeted Mr. Solskjær with both caution and curiosity at the Mabubas School in the Northern Province of Bengo. Located in a region known for severe water-supply challenges, the school did not have a functioning sanitation system in place, but plans to install one were in the works.

The students were somewhat restrained during their dialogue with Mr. Solskjær in the classroom. However, once they were outside – and supplied with a couple of donated footballs – all inhibitions seemed to vanish. The children were clearly thrilled to have a famous player in their company.

Later that day, Mr. Solskjær travelled to the Kixiquela School near the provincial capital of Caxito. The school had fewer buildings and fewer children than the Mabubas facility. UNICEF has hired a contractor to supply the school with access to water, but much more work needs to be done.

During the afternoon shift of classes, students and teachers eagerly waited to have their pictures taken with Mr. Solskjær.

© UNICEF/2008/ Paulino
Luanda teenagers look on as UNICEF Norway Ambassador Ole Gunnar Solskjær shows off his famous football skills.

Dropping in on schools in Luanda

On day two of his trip, Mr. Solskjær went to the bustling capital of Angola, Luanda, to tour schools in an urban setting – including School No. 513 in Luanda’s Rangel municipality. Gates separate School No. 513 from the congested city, creating a safe haven and learning environment for students.

“They are very disciplined” said Mr. Solskjær. “I wish children in Norway were a bit more like that. In my country it can take as long as 15 minutes just to get order in the classroom.”

The school in Rangel had running water and separate toilets for students and teachers, as well as for boys and girls. On the wall of the sanitary complex was an inscription that instructed children to wash their hands after using the bathroom – a simple intervention that saves lives by preventing waterborne diseases.

Mr. Solskjær commended the sanitary conditions, noting that sanitation was “crucial for children’s health and well-being.”

Discipline and heart

In the town of Cacuaco, Mr. Solskjær went on to visit School No. 861, which is run by Catholic nuns. The school has 1,500 students and provides evening literacy classes for adults.

Many children at the school had lined up to serenade the football star, and two teams were ready to play ball. Mr. Solskjær graciously accepted the challenge and decided he would play on both, following whichever team had the ball.

He ended the visit on a signature note, telling the students that applying discipline and heart to whatever they do is the key to achieving their goals.



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