Education International
Education International

Global Action Week Round Up: Don’t lose sight of the goal!

published 3 June 2010 updated 3 June 2010

Thousands of teachers, students and activists turned out to mark Global Action Week (GAW) between 19-25 April in order to demand action for the 72 million children who still miss out on getting an education.

This year’s theme of ‘Financing Quality Education For All’ was supported by seven million people who signed up to the 1GOAL campaign, co-ordinated by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE). During the week thousands of teachers also delivered the 1GOAL Lesson for All. UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, said that “making education more affordable, bringing learning opportunities closer to those who need them and developing second-chance programmes can help increase access to education. This requires sustained funding. With the global financial crisis, education budgets are under increased pressure. We must identify new ways to mobilise resources for education.” In Africa there was lots of activity. The President of Association des Syndicats et ONG en faveur de l’Education Pour Tous, Issa Kassoum, spoke at a meeting with national authorities in Niger; the General Secretary of the Gambia Teachers’ Union, Antoinette Corr-Jack, organised four days of training on how to use the Education Financing toolkit. In Senegal, more than 20,000 people were mobilised in GAW celebrations with a launch in Dakar attended by wrestling superstar Yekini. In South Africa, more than 50,000 school children participated in the 1GOAL Lesson for All, this was even taught to one lucky class by the soap star, Hlubi Mboya. The lesson, which is available online, will also be broadcast on the Africa Learning Channel during the Football World Cup. In Asia, GAW was launched in Bangladesh with a national seminar attended by the Education Minister and co-chair of the National Education Formulation Committee. In Cambodia, a high level event took place to launch UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report and GAW. In India, children met Members of Parliament to ask probing questions about the state of education financing, and in New Delhi, the President of Global Campaign for Education, Kailash Satyarthi, and UNESCO India’s Arumugam Parsuraman, talked to 500 students about education. In Japan, more than 40,000 children from 350 schools took part in GAW and created yellow cards to symbolise the lack of support for education which they sent to Japan;s Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama. In Europe, Albania’s FSASH and SPASH unions focused activities on financing education and the commitment of education unions and teachers to keep pupils in school and get quality training. This included a football match in Tirana between disabled children and the Dinamo under-21 team which was attended by the Deputy Minister of Education and Science. A football match was also organised between blind pupils and professional football players in Austria which was played in the dark to show solidarity with visually impaired learners. In Ireland, Members of Parliament took part in a football penalty shoot out, followed by officials and pupils taking part in a session to share experiences and debate education issues. GCE board member, Helga Hjetland, and President of the Norwegian Education Union, Mimi Bjerkestrand, literally kicked off GAW by scoring a goal for education at Teacher’s House in Oslo. This event was attended by the Minister of Education, the President of the Football Association, and stars of the Norwegian men’s and women’s football teams, all of whom signed up for 1GOAL: Education For All. In Latin America, teachers began GAW with the signing of an agreement in Tucumán, Argentina, between representatives of Confederación de Trabajadores de la Educación de la República Argentina, the Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina and the Football League. Players from Atlético San Martín Football Club also displayed the Education For All campaign banner at one of their matches. In Honduras, a televised debate highlighted education quality, financing, and the scope of Education For All goals, while in Nicaragua, a festival took place to launch GAW and the 1GOAL campaign. In North America, the President of American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Randi Weingarten, met US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and presented her with a football signed by students from Columbia Elementary School in Florida. This symbolised the thousands of American students and teachers who participated in GAW this year. The AFT also called on its members and their families to write to their US Representative asking them to co-sponsor an Education For All Act. Meanwhile, President of National Education Association, Dennis Van Roekel, added his Union’s weight behind lobbying for the Act by co-authoring an article in the influential Huffington Post on ‘Facing the Future: Global Education at the Crossroads’with the Most Revered Desmond Tutu, Honorary Chair of the Global AIDS Alliance. In Canada, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation kicked off GAW and the 1GOAL campaign with a breakfast with parliamentarians.

This article was published in Worlds of Education, Issue 34, June 2010.