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Teachers and students around the world join up to demand education rights now

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, declares: “Everyone has the right to education.” Almost 60 years have passed since the international community agreed upon the noble principles in the Universal Declaration yet, for more than 80 million children around the world, the right to education exists only in principle — not in reality.

That’s why Education International (EI) is working with the Global Campaign for Education to raise awareness of the enormous gap between the right of children to learn and the harsh reality of ignorance and poverty for so many millions. Today marks the beginning of Global Action Week, April 23-29, when hundreds of thousands of concerned teachers, students, parents, and activists all over the world will join together to demand that governments and international agencies live up to their promise of ensuring that all children receive the free quality education to which they are fundamentally entitled. In 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, 191 governments committed to provide Education for All by the year 2015. Many developing countries have made significant progress, but continue to need assistance and solidarity. Some developed nations that are signatory to the agreement still fall far short of the target of 0.7% of Gross National Income committed to Overseas Development Assistance, which includes education aid. “We are at the halfway point to meet the Education for All goals,” noted EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “The deadline is looming and millions of children should not have to wait any longer for their chance to go to school. Now is the time for governments to deliver on the promises made in Dakar.” To send that message loudly and clearly, education advocates all around the globe have organized an event-filled week of lobbying, artwork and activities to urge governments to take action. In the Netherlands, for example, students and teachers will be playing an educational board game developed by students at a teacher training college in Rotterdam. The game simulates the obstacles faced by children in developing countries in terms of child labour, health and education. In Tanzania, teachers and advocates are conducting a survey on human rights and education, and will use the results to educate politicians and the public. In the United States, teachers and students will create posters and petitions supporting Education for All legislation and send their work to members of Congress. They will also organize “teach-ins” and mock hearings on education as a human right. In Georgia, teachers are collecting data on children left out of the education system and are compiling a series of photographs of child labourers. They will also be documenting the issue of adult illiteracy for an exhibition and public event in Tbilisi. In Uganda, schools across the country have invited politicians to come back to school for a day to witness the problems facing teachers and students in the classroom. The teachers’ union will also participate in radio and TV talk shows, and will organize a debate for children, parents, teachers and politicians on the right to quality Education for All.

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