South Africa: Children join forces with Mandela
By Nontokozo Mhlongo
Two London school children will join Nelson Mandela in Mozambique on Monday 10 April to call on Gordon Brown and other world leaders to keep their promise to achieve education for all and solve a global teacher crisis.
Twelve-year-old Jenade Sharma and Lily King Taylor, 13, are visiting Africa with the Global Campaign for Education, which includes ActionAid, Comic Relief and Oxfam. They will meet Mandela, Gordon Brown and Mozambique school children and call on world leaders to fund free quality education for all children in the developing world.
At last year’s G8, world leaders repeated a millennium promise to provide a basic education for all children by 2015. Despite being one of the most effective routes out of poverty, over 100 million children still do not receive an education, and vital milestones are being missed, including equal numbers of boys and girls in primary school.
The children from Mozambique and the UK will hand paper cut-outs of teachers to Gordon Brown, UN Children’s Fund ambassador Graca Machel and other African leaders. Each cut-out represents a real teacher needed by a child – between now and 2015, the world faces a shortfall of at least 15 million teachers worldwide.
During the Make Poverty History campaign, UK schools called on G8 leaders to send their friends to school. Now, children will build on that effort to create a period of extraordinary activity over the coming months. They will unite in a children’s campaign to ensure that every child has a teacher and can learn in a class of less than 40.
Jonathan Smith, speaking on behalf of the Global Campaign for Education said: “Jenade and Lily are driving forward a campaign to ensure that every child gets a decent education and a well trained teacher. Every parent in the UK cares deeply about their children’s education. It’s time to care as much about the world’s children.”
The aid to education story – broken promises and missed deadlines
A key component in achieving universal primary education is the Education for All Fast Track Initiative. Established by donors, this fund seeks to accelerate progress by giving additional aid to poor countries that have demonstrated a clear commitment to getting every child into school, including spending 20% of their budget on education.
Mozambique has met the fast track conditions, as have 19 other countries, but none have so far been fully granted the aid they need or were promised. Mozambique has an education funding gap of US$74 million, with only US$30 million committed by foreign donors and a further US$74 million by the Mozambique treasury.
One year on from the G8 Gleneagles pledges to double aid to Africa, the Fast Track faces a US$500 million shortfall while the global funding gap for basic education is estimated to be as high as US$10 billion. The test of Gordon Brown’s latest initiative is whether it will mobilise the international community to break the funding logjam, and ensure the G8 promises translate into lasting change in the world’s poorest countries.
The education funding gap is felt most acutely in countries like Mozambique. Despite remarkable successes – including a rise in youth literacy since 1999 from 49% to 62%, a girls’ primary enrolment rate of over 90%, and building 6,000 schools a year – one million primary children are still out of school and an additional 55,000 teachers are needed to reach the UN-recommended ratio of 1 teacher to 40 pupils. On average there are between 50 and 70 children in each primary class.
Kailash Satyarthi, President of the Global Campaign for Education said: “The Chancellor’s initiative is welcome, but children need more than warm words. He must announce big increases in UK aid to education and particularly the fast track initiative and demand that other donors do the same.
“There have been too many missed deadlines and broken promises at the hands of world leaders. At the current rate of progress, the basic education target will not be reached for 150 years.”
The UK government’s own estimates show that an additional US$10 billion a year will be needed to ensure that every child can complete a primary education of good quality by 2015. Donors need to provide predictable long-term funding, and developing countries must have in place good national plans for spending. Without the extra money, it will be impossible to reverse the current appalling record on children’s education.