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European Launch of Global Action Week: Students advocate at the European Parliament

"Kids have a great sense of what is fair and not fair," declared Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Glenys Kinnock in her introductory speech at the European launch of the Global Action Week 2007 Campaign: Join Up for Education Rights Now!

Kinnock, a former teacher with 30 years’experience in the classroom, hosted the launch event at the European Parliament. Organised by the Global Campaign for Education, in which EI is a partner, it involved students from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, France, Ireland, Greece, Argentina and Senegal. The students from Europe were able to ask questions of their MEPs and urge them to ensure the right to education of the 80 million children who still don’t have access to school is respected, by providing them with schooling. Kinnock reminded the audience that 2007 is a crucial year in achieving Education For All by 2015. “How we tackle poverty is one of the major problems… and education is the best route out of poverty.” “The rich countries have to come forward with the funding to live up to the promises they have made,” Kinnock insisted. “Governments must pull up their socks, sharpen their pencils, sit up in class and do the work.” There is a strong need for a long-term commitment, for predictable funding to be given for teachers’ salaries, school books and other supplies. “We will need $5 billion per year until 2015,” Kinnock added. She also made the link between education and health, drawing upon the example of Swaziland where two thirds of girls out of school are HIV positive and two thirds of girls receiving an education are uninfected. An additional year at school for a girl in Africa reduces the risk of child death by eight per cent. Before the children and MEPs formed a chain of people ‘joining up for education rights’, Kinnock urged the students to keep on advocating. “Stay at school, tell your schoolmates to stay as well and fight for your right to education!” In this way it will be possible for children worldwide “to get the basics of primary school at least, so as to help them become somebody,” as one of the Senegalese students underlined. EI strongly encourages its affiliates to engage in activities for Global Action Week, which will take place from 23 to 30 April 2007. To learn more about Global Action Week and how you can participate, please visit: www.ei-ie.org/globalactionweek or contact us at globalactionweek@ei-ie.org.

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