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UNICEF, Mandela Foundation and Hamburg Society consolidate ‘Schools for Africa’

©UNICEF video
Former South African President Nelson Mandela and his foundation have joined with UNICEF and the Hamburg Society in expanding their drive to provide quality education for millions of Africa’s children.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 16 May 2008 – UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Hamburg Society today signed a memorandum of understanding at the foundation’s headquarters in Johannesburg to consolidate their partnership promoting the six-nation ‘Schools for Africa’ campaign.

The initiative is expected to reach its $50 million fundraising target by year-end, three years ahead of deadline. The funds are being used to provide millions of children in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe with:

  • Improved learning environments that are safe, protective and accessible
  • Newly built or rehabilitated classrooms
  • School furniture, including blackboards, desks and chairs
  • Teaching and learning materials
  • Safe drinking water and separate sanitation facilities for girls and boys.

Children in these countries will also benefit from better training for teachers and involved community members, who will be able to make schools more child-friendly.

Child-friendly standards

“No other investment has such a lasting effect as the education of children,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Per Engebak. “Children who go to school are healthier, more self-assured and can more easily assume a profession. And education is the only effective ‘vaccine’ against HIV and AIDS.

“The Schools for Africa initiative is an ideal vehicle to help achieve Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3, which set specific targets for universal primary education, gender equality and the empowerment of women,” added Mr. Engebak. “We also see the initiative as a way to mainstream Child Friendly School standards, to ensure a quality education for all children.”

Child Friendly School standards comprise an established strategic framework developed and implemented by UNICEF and its education partners worldwide since the 1990s. Among other things, the standards advocate a rights-based approach to learning, with strong community involvement, provision of safe water and sanitation, and sensitivity to the needs of girls in schools. 

© RM Photography/Hearfield
Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Achmat Dangor (left) and UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Per Engebak sign the new ‘Schools for Africa’ memorandum of understanding in Johannesburg.

Achieving universal primary education

Despite the acknowledged importance of education for all children, however, achieving universal primary education has proven difficult the world over.

According to a 2005 report produced jointly by UNICEF and UNESCO, some 121 million children were reportedly out of school, 65 million of them girls.

Forty-five million of those out of school globally are from sub-Saharan Africa, including 21 million in Eastern and Southern Africa alone. What’s more, a majority of the 31 countries that are at high risk of not achieving universal primary education by 2015 are located in sub-Saharan Africa.

Lives transformed through education

In the Schools for Africa campaign, said UNICEF Representative in South Africa Macharia Kamau, “we have yet another opportunity to help transform the lives of children through quality education. We are pleased to have these three organizations aligning themselves with this expanded initiative.”

The agreement signed today strengthens the existing Schools for Africa partnership in support of progress towards the achievement of MDG 2 and MDG 3 – and  towards the targets for universal primary education and women’s empowerment reflected in the goals of the African Union’s Second Decade of Education for Africa.
According to Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Achmat Dangor, the memorandum of understanding will help to “ensure that all children in Africa have access to the kind of education that will transform their lives and the future of our continent.”

Fundraising by National Committees

A major element of the expanded Schools for Africa campaign is the intensive fundraising effort already in place by UNICEF National Committees around the world.

Countries participating in the initiative receive fundraising support from UNICEF committees in Germany, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Australia, the United States, Korea, Portugal, Austria, Finland, France, Hungary, Croatia and the Czech Republic.

In addition, major individual and corporate partners – such as Peter Kramer, Chairperson of the Hamburg Society, Gucci (currently the largest single donor to Schools for Africa), Siemens, ING, Payback, Cadbury, Bobcat, Orbis and T-Mobile – continue to support the education campaign.


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Watch former South African President Nelson Mandela’s public service announcement in support of the ‘Schools for Africa’ campaign.

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