MDG Advocacy Group Meeting
New York, 25 September 2014
When the Secretary-General entrusted me with this mission, I was inspired to do what I could, to offer a chance to the 58 million out of school children across the world.
These children are the most marginalised – living in slums, in refugee camps, in remote locations.Yet, in these very places, I have witnessed the triumph of hope.
Before I visited Gaza, I assumed I would find only frustration and anger in the youth I met. Instead, I found hope in their eyes. I saw hope in the Bangladeshi children so determined to learn. Proud of their valuable pencils, that they had made themselves from scrap. I found hope in the favelas of Rio, in joyful children, full of life and potential, intent on building a new life, free from insecurity and crime.
These children are our hope and the very inspiration for Educate A Child – the programme we launched two years ago. Our goal is to make their hope contagious and resilient.
We find ingenious local solutions, scale them up and replicate them wherever possible. We work with communities to overcome the barriers they face. Conquering these obstacles is the only way to get children in school, and keep them there.
The programme has now committed support to 2.5 million children in 33 countries. Our goal is to reach 10 million by the end of the 2015-2016 school year. But we need others to share our vision of education as key to overcoming other development challenges. The proof is out there.
We know that basic education improves health outcomes, reduces involvement in conflict, enhances employment and can benefit countries’ GDP. We know that with sufficient increases in funding, with enough commitment, we could make the issue of out of school children a thing of the past.
Yet, until universal primary education is achieved, out-of-school children will be an unforgivable underinvestment in human capital – a costly barrier preventing nations from reaching their full economic and social potential.
I would like to end by thanking the Secretary-General for entrusting each of us with this very important mission.
For my part, the mission is not complete.