News and Events: Press releases

GCE: 'Broken Promises' on the 30th Anniversary of the Day of the African Child

“Promises to children should never be broken." -Nelson Mandela, 10 March 2006

16 June 2006 - In Africa today over 40 million children are living with the consequences of broken promises - the promise of being able to go to school. Two thirds of all children in Africa will not complete five years of education.

The world’s leaders have made this promise time and time again.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Education for All Goals, the Millennium Development Goals and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child all endorse children’s right to complete a basic education of good quality.  

Time is running out for the world to keep their promises

If all children are to complete primary education by 2015, they have to be enrolled in school by 2009 at the latest. That is why we must see action today.  All governments must live up to the ‘global compact’ – that countries with good strategies would be fully financed by donor cash - to meet this goal immediately. Last weekend, the finance ministers of rich countries once again re-iterated the importance of Education For All. But they left the table without making any firm commitments of new money to realize this dream.

Donor governments must increase aid and cancel debt to African countries so that they can expand their education systems.  As a first step must fill the EFA Fast Track Initiative’s finance gap of $415 million to help 20 countries with 16 million children out of school deliver their education plans.  And next month GCE demands the G8 to keep their promises and announce that they will provide full funding so that 100 million children around the world will not be left waiting at the school gates – an amount of approximately $10 billion per year.

Governments in Africa must also play their part by increasing public spending on education in order to give every child the opportunity to go to school for free and to ensure they receive a quality education, with a well-trained, motivated teacher.  On average Sub-Saharan Africa countries spend less money on education than on health or on defense.

The struggle for education continues

In South Africa the Day of the African Child 16th June, marks the 30 year anniversary of the Soweto uprisings.  Thousands of children took to the streets in demand of equal education.  Today those children and the brutal repression that followed will be remembered along with their demands. 

It is not acceptable that in 2006 children in South Africa and across the continent find that their quality education is dependent on their class and their ability to pay.  Children are often excluded or victimized from school because their parents are not able to pay for school fees and other costs, such as transport, learning materials and uniforms. 

To remind South Africa that we have yet to reach our demands, GCE is putting the writing on the wall.  In Soweto a large mural will be unveiled that depicts children campaigning for education 30 years ago and today – with the words: 30 years later: the struggle for education continues…

Broken promises of education have a high price to pay.  There is overwhelming evidence that education – particularly for girls – can break the cycle of poverty and reduce the risk of HIV infection.  Lacking education, children often have no choice other than a life of a child worker, child soldier, or street child. 

Now is the time to keep our promises to education. 


Notes to Editors:
Alex Kent – 011 447 4111 or 076 428 5390

The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) has been campaigning to make the right to education a reality since 1999, across the world, and South Africa.  The campaign is a coalition of teachers unions, child rights activities, NGOs and academics, and is now active in more than 110 countries.  GCE’s recent Global Action Week mobilized millions of campaigners who collected evidence for the need for more teachers, and made demands to politicians when they returned to school.



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