Education and adolescent development

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NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving visits schools in South Africa with UNICEF

UNICEF South Africa/2013/Schermbrucker
© UNICEF South Africa/2013/Schermbrucker
NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving taking a hands on approach during his visit to Soweto in South Africa. Irving decided not to stay on the sidelines while children participated in the game that the player is known and loved for.

PRETORIA (August 29, 2013) – National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Kyrie Irving has just concluded a visit to Gauteng, South Africa, where he participated in a variety of educational programs supported by UNICEF’s Schools for Africa initiative.

The Cleveland Cavaliers player was joined on the trip by Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and Dikembe Mutombo, former NBA All-Star, member of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Executive Board of Directors, and NBA Global Ambassador. 

Over the course of the three-day trip, the 2012 Rookie of the Year witnessed a wide range of UNICEF Schools for Africa programs in Gauteng Province, visiting primary and secondary schools in both Soweto and Randfontein, where he engaged with students, teachers and administrators.

“Even with the challenges they face, it was inspiring to see how much the kids want to learn and how hard the teachers are working,” said Irving. “I saw first-hand how early childhood education and school sports activities are making a difference in these kids’ lives.”

At the Bafikile Primary School in Soweto, Irving helped lead students through physical education activities that are part of UNICEF’s Sports for Development initiative.  Before taking to the court for a basketball clinic, he addressed the importance of staying in school to an assembly of Soweto’s Senaonae Secondary School, where dropout rates are very high.

UNICEF South Africa/2013/Schermbrucker
© UNICEF South Africa/2013/Schermbrucker
Known as the gentle giant of the NBA, retired player Dikembe Mutombo won little hearts at every school he visited as part of Kyrie Irving's visit to South Africa. Here the Congolese-born is pictured greeting children at Schaumberg Combined School.

“South Africa is a really interesting country for me. It has shown tremendous progress,” said U.S. Fund for UNICEF CEO and President, Caryl Stern. “It was great to witness the changes that have occurred 1994, the caliber of schools and programmes and how committed learners are to their own education.”

At Emaweni Primary School in Soweto, Irving worked on an art project with a group five- and six year-olds who are in the school’s Early Childhood Development program.  He also helped facilitate a discussion with students from the Pahama Secondary School in Randfontein who participate in the Girls and Boys Education Movement, which provides students with leadership skills and information that help them mobilise their communities to support the rights of girls.

The delegation’s visit to South Africa was concluded with an interclass basketball tournament in honour of Irving and Mutombo’s to Pahama Secondary School.



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