13.07.2010 - ODG

Keep the Vuvuzelas Ringing for Education

© UNESCO/Cynthia Guttman - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova addresses the World Cup Education Summit convened by President Jacob Zuma at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria, South Africa on 11 July

Stressing that education is development, UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova urged that the first World Cup on African soil leave a legacy of hope and opportunity for a whole generation of children.

Irina Bokova was addressing African heads of state, donor representatives and 1Goal ambassadors at the 2010 World Cup Education Summit convened by President Zuma of South Africa a few hours before the final game on 11 July 2010.

“There is tremendous political will across Africa to invest in children and youth, the continent’s most valuable resource. But we are here today because this is not enough.” Ms Bokova highlighted the challenges of marginalization, quality and financing.

The Director-General underscored UNESCO’s efforts to ensure that education receives top priority in the outcome document of the United Nations’ High Level Summit on the Millennium Development Goals in September. “We have an opportunity to send a clear signal to this Summit,” she said, affirming that she would keep the vuvuzelas ringing in favour of education after the World Cup.

All speakers expressed strong commitment to education. President Zuma of South Africa described education as “the most important investment in the future of any nation.” FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that “football remains a driving force for social engagement and a school of life.” The Dutch Prime Minister Balkendende warned that destroying education systems through budget cuts is not the way to achieve economic recovery.” President Ali Bongo of Gabon, representing the African Union, underscored the clear links between human development and education, stating that domestic and global financing had to be increased. “We have to make Africa truly fit for our children,” he said. 

Twelve-year old Nthabiseng Tshabalala ended with an appeal to Summit participants: “When children are stopped from going to school, they are losing their future and their tomorrow. As leaders, you had your opportunity to go to school. Please make sure that 72 million children get theirs.”

Among the Heads of State and Government who attended are Botswana’s President Seretse Khama Ian Khama, Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza, Comoros’ President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Ghana’s President John Atta Mills, Guinea’s President Malam Bacai Sanha, Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, Lesotho’s President Pakalitha Mosisili, Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika, Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza, Swaziland’s King Mswati III, Zambia’s President Rupiah Banda and Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe.

Summit participants adopted a Statement urging governments and the international community to translate their commitment to education into concrete actions, including increased financial allocations.

On the sidelines of the Summit, the Director-General met with several heads of state, including of Burkina Faso, Comoros, Mozambique and South Africa.

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