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Worldwide Report

Global Action Week 2002

A clear demand to make education free was echoed throughout the world during the Global Action Week for Education, on 22-28 April 2002. One of the major obstacles in enrolling every child in school is accessibility of schools, including a number of schools, distance, and school fees. A total abolition of school user fees must be part of all future educational reforms and EFA plans to make education truly a right of every person. After all, how can we put a price tag to a birthright as basic as learning?

The Global Action Week for Education (GAW) 2002 saw a tremendously intensifying support from every corner of the world, in both EFA target countries in South and donor countries in North. More significant was to see strengthening of partnerships among various civil society organisatios and stakeholders, especially between teachers' unions and NGOs.

Anguilla : The teachers' union ran an online poll on "Should teachers have the right to remove disruptive students from the classroom? Educators were invited to log on and cast their votes before April 30th. The union also hosted a regional EI round table discussion (April 26- 27, 2002) on the theme "Teachers' Conditions of Service: Relevance to Quality Education in the Caribbean". The Anguilla Teachers Union is also taking part in the drawing competitions.


"This week millions of parents, teachers and children around the world have been calling on their governments to provide free, good quality, basic education for all the world's chidlren. We add our voice to their call."

- Graca Machel and Nelson Mandela


Argentina : The teachers' union CTERA and its allies including the Global March National Coordinator stood up to defend public education against the current economic and political crisis. Deep budget cuts have undermined the quality of education. Among their activities a series of lobbying activities to push the government towards establishing a National Action Plan to make education free was the main focus.

Australia : Action Week activities focused on indigenous education. The national teachers' union released a report on the state of indigenous education and a country report card. The problems faced by Indigenous peoples in accessing higher education and the failure of Australian universities to progress their Indigenous employment strategies were highlighted.

Bosnia and Herzegovina : The teachers' unions ITUPE and ITUSS collected children drawings and involved teachers and individuals in the e-mail petition. World Vision in Bosnia has also asked its staff and partners to sign cyber action cards. These two teachers' unions have also sent a joint letter to the Canadian Prime Minister, urging him to use his chairmanship of the Group of Eight (G8) rich nations to ensure that EFA is at the top of the agenda when they hold their annual summit in Canada this June. See attached file, "G8 pro forma", for ideas if you want to send a similar letter.

Bulgaria : Two teachers' unions SEB and Podkrepa have joined efforts with 15 NGOs to enhance the visibility of GAW through articles in newspapers and radio and television broadcasts before and during GAW. The two unions organised two workshops on "reforms in education" with academics, representatives from business, the Ministry of Education, and NGO networks. The teachers' unions will also release a study on the current assessment of the Bulgarian education system. 10,000 copies of this brochure will be distributed in schools.

Burkina Faso : The GAW was launched on Monday with a publication on newspapers indicating what Burkina will be doing through out the Week. The same publication was broadcasted on national television in the evening. Themes which emerged from the ANCEFA study which form part of the activities during the Week are:

The total absence of a National Education Plan in Burkina. The government of Burkina wants to propose its Ten Year Plan of Action as the NEP and civil society groups and all partners in Burkina are saying NO to this decision. They want to see Burkina develop a NEP like all countries as stipulated in the Dakar Framework.

Contribution of funds by PTAs. The question is, if schooling is free as stipulated in the Ten Year Plan in Burkina, why then is it that PTAs are compelled to contribute money for the purchase of school equipment, building infrustructure etc. Civil society organisations want this to be abolished and free education for all to be provided by the government .

Lack of clear policy on HIV/AIDS. The number of HIV orphans is increasing in the country and no assistance whatsoever is being provided by the government.

On April 25, a meeting of all patners including the caravaneers from Banfore and Bobo led by Association Munyu des Femmes de Comoe was held at Cine Neerwaya in Ouagadougou to debate on this issues.

Central African Republic : Teachers' union FSEC-USTC organised a street theatre in eight districts of Bangui. FSEC also officially submitted the conclusion of a trade union workshop on EFA to fight against poverty to the government. The teachers' union also convened a round table on EFA inviting representatives of the government, of students, of parents and of NGOs.

Democratic Republic of Congo : The teachers' union FENESCU held large national and provincial meetings to foster a GCE network, involving NGOs, teacher unions and churches. Seminars were also organised for teachers, parents and civil servants to follow-up on the Dakar Frame of Action. FENESCU has also been busy collecting children's drawings since mid-February.

Cote d'Ivoire : Teachers' union SNEPPCI organised public and lobbying meetings with other unions and GCE coalitions. Education International Deputy General Secretary Elie Jouen attended the GAW in Abidjan.

Cyprus (Turkish-speaking) : Both the teachers' unions KTOS and KTOES organised a public forum and raised awareness through radio programmes, and in the e-card action.

Ethiopia : Civil society organisations are encouraged by the commitments made in the new Education and Training Policy to achieve universal primary education by 2015, to make basic education free up to grade 10 and to increase budgetary allocations to the sector. However, they are concerned by the government's reluctance to open up its education policies to participation and review by civil society, and by the threats to implementation posed by HIV-AIDS, conflict and Ethiopia's weak economy. Because of the strategic importance of the Education Sector Review process, which took place earlier this month, AAE decided to organise its contributions to the Action Week slightly earlier this year. Three major workshops were held, focusing particularly on the role of alternative (non-formal) basic education in helping the government to achieve its policy aims. This approach paid off when the ESR meeting fully endorsed alternative basic education as a key dimension of the next sector-wide plan. Partners of Global March Against Child Labour also mobilised this past week for GAW (no details received yet).

Gabon : The national education coalition, CONCEG, which brings together NGOs and the teachers' union, is using the Action Week to widely publicize the Dakar Framework of Action and the 2015 EFA goals. A letter-writing campaign to collect thousands of signatures, tee-shirts and newspapers and radio advertisements are among the highlights.

Guinea-Bissau : The teachers' union SINAPROF organised the children's artwork collection as well as round-tables on education in eight regions.

Haiti : On April 26, the teachers' union CNEH closed the Global Action Week with the prize giving ceremony for the children's art competition. The authors of the ten best drawings were awarded a prize in the presence of the Education Minister and representatives of the Canadian Embassy in Haïti, of UNICEF, and of the Initiative de la Société Civile (ISC).

India : Nation-wide activities were organised all around the country. In New Delhi, at the launch of GAW, a public hearing on the rights to free, quality education was organised. Children and adults who re illiterate or have never had a chance to attend school have stood up and spoke up on their rights to education. The following day, we were joined by Ms. Sheena Henley of the Education International, also a member of the Global March International Council, on a march to the Parliament building to call for free education for all children. A memorandum was submitted to the President to call for the implementation and improvement of the 93rd Constitutional Amendment, which was passed last year to make education a fundamental right.

Indonesia : Action Week events organised by Oxfam and partners included an education bazaar, a musical performance involving the government and local communities, children's drawing competition, and movie show on education.

Ireland : Irish and British teachers' unions came together to launch a "Hands Up for Education" campaign mobilising more than 1 million teachers. They sent a joint letter to the UK and Irish prime ministers.The wider Irish trade union federation ICTU helped to organise a conference on the theme "Free to Learn". Irish unions are also participating in the GCE e-card.

Japan : Japanese trade unions will celebrate May Day on April 27, and the Japanese teachers' union will use the day's events to campaign on "Free Education For All".

Kenya : As part of the Elimu Yetu programme of action for this week, KEFEADO mobilizers in and around Kisumu have been actively organising community members, informal settlements and churches to participate in separate forums of children and adults in order to draw up petitions on education. Each forum has been attracting between 300-500 people. The petition produced in Nyanza district, for example, focused on issues such as HIV-AIDS, corruption in the school inspectorate, excessive corporal punishment, and high levels of school drop-out among the poor due to inability to pay school levies. Today (25 April), representatives selected in the local children's meetings came together for a combined Children's Conference in Kisumu City, while there will be a Public Forum for adults on 27 April.

Liberia : Civil society organisations have been banned from all public gatherings by the government of the Republic of Liberia just on the eve of their awareness programs on education. Instead, ALPO will launch a radio program to bring to the attention of all Liberians the need for support to educate the population. Three radio stations will be airing these programs. Our colleagues in Liberia are counting on our support and intervention during this challenging period.

Malawi : "Free to Learn" was a message heard loud and clear when more than 5,000 people, including MPs and education officials from around the country, gathered for the launch of the Action Week on 21 April in one of the poorest districts of Malawi. Speeches by the Minister of Education and by school pupils reinforced the importance of free education. There were also traditional songs and dances, dramas, and poems. Primary and secondary students took part in a press conference and debate. The event was covered on national television and in the newspapers.

Mali : The Action Week was launched on Sunday 21 by the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Education in an an event covered by national television. The ceremony was packed with youth between the ages of 7 and 21, all dressed in T-shirts and caps and holding bandaroles with messages on EFA, girls' education and the struggle against illiteracy and HIV/AIDS. The SG asserted that the commitments made in Dakar in 2000 are far from being met but his Ministry will work tirelessly with partners in making sure that Mali fulfills its commitment. After the official ceremony, 2 buses, carrying 50 caravaneers each left for Burkina and Niger (see West Africa below for more on the caravan). Two other buses with younger caravaneers took a tour around Bamako singing and making stopovers at key points in the city such as the Martyrs' Square, the OAU Monument etc.

Mexico : In Mexico, child rights network, Global March affiliate COMEXANI, teachers' unions and World Vision Mexico joined together for the Action Week. Events included workshops with parents and teachers on the meaning of quality education; a special forum in the legislature; articles in the press; and dissemination during all of these events of the GCE "school report" action card. An especially interesting dimension of their plans was to support groups of school children to design and present a "quality assessment" of their own school. COMEXANI was also involved in a rally and children's drawing event highlight education for all during the Financing for Development summit that took place in Mexico last month.

Pakistan : Press conferences in Lahore and Peshawar marked the opening of SPARC's Global Action Week activities. At a conference in Lahore, government and civil society participants devoted intensive debate to the responsibility of national and provincial governments to enforce existing laws so that 10 million children are provided with their fundamental right of free and compulsory education. SPARC's partner, GODH, reached out to the masses by holding a versatile program comprising of puppet shows, debates, songs, speeches etc. The underlying message was the importance of compulsory and free primary education and translating the commitments that the Government of Pakistan had made nationally and internationally from rhetoric into practice.

Actionaid Pakistan gathered community members and local interest groups from the four provinces Sind, Balouchistan, Punjab and Sarhad to share views and agree core recommendations on the National Plan of Action on EFA. Mr. Asad Sumbal the National Coordinator of UNGASS 2002 and Dr. Haroona Jatoi,(Joint Educational Advisor) represented the Minister of Education Zubaida Jalal in two separate meetings with the community representatives. After the first meeting, the headlines in the national newspapers stated: Free and Compulsory Education: Government comes under fire for lack of commitment (The Dawn; April 28th).

The following recommendations were presented:

Free Education for All: In accordance to the Constitution of Pakistan (Article 37-B) free and compulsory education up to secondary level (including early childhood care) must be provided. User fees, text-book expenditure, transport expense must end; uniforms, balanced nutrition, and medical care must be provided to pupils.

Quality Education: Based on the basic human values , curriculum and quality education be provided; schools be made attractive for children; All teachers be trained in child friendly teaching methodologies and human rights; Selection of teacher be based on merit and his/her position and status in the society be elevated

A uniform curriculum and system of education throughout the country. Madrassahs to be mainstreamed, to end dualism in the education system.

Increased budgetary allocations for education, rising to 4-6% of GDP, to be funded by decreases in defense spending and by increased support from the World Bank and G-8 for the EFA goals.

In the provincial capital of Peshawar, a National Education Seminar was organised on April 24th by ActionAid-Pakistan and Qaumi Taleemi Ittehad (National education Alliance ). Participants openly condemned Pakistan's education system as favouring the elite and not the marginalised. They demanded access to free education. They condemned such clergy who limit the nations' progress by forbidding girl child education in contradiction to Islam. They also raised their voice against the government which was busy in the referendum and was neglecting such an important issue. The provincial secretary education had not come to the seminar due to this reason. They also mentioned that the feudals (Khans) educate their own children, even their daughters, but call it non-Islamic for the locals. They linked it to the Khans 'hunger to maintain power'. One of the participants from Takht Bhai, Jehanzeb Salik, stated: "The Khans know education will make us powerful. They are afraid that we will not bow down in front of them once we acquire education. That is why they want to keep us illiterate and our generation their servant"

Philippines : Last April 22-25, 2002, the Philippine Civil Society Network for Education Reforms (E-Net) celebrated the Philippine Week of Action on Education for All (EFA). E-Net, the biggest network of NGOs and popular organisations involved in education-related initiatives, succeeded in bringing together 110 organisations from all over the Philippines to affirm E-Net's role as a network of civil society advocates for education reform and approve its first constitution.

Carrying the theme, "Education Now! Free, Accessible and Quality Education for All," the Week of Action brought together teachers, students, parents, farmers, fisherfolks, urban poor, women and education activists, to call for equitable access to good quality education. The launching of E-Net was highlighted with solidarity messages from invited guests from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (a co-sponsor of the conference), the Global Campaign for Education and Oxfam GB, officials from the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd), UNICEF and speakers from provincial/local government units. NGO speakers also provided inputs on the EFA process, government initiatives, education financing and proposals for curriculum reforms.

The E-Net capped off the Week of Action with a press conference to publicly launch the network and to present to the media immediate calls for a review of the basic education curriculum, and particularly, to push for a one-year moratorium on the implementation of the new "millennium curriculum" until DepEd sufficiently conducts capability-building of teachers before they implement it this June, the start of the new school year.

Scotland : Scottish women MPs have lent their support to the movement by signing action cards and taking part in a photocall. Ann McKechin MP, Secretary, Parliamentary Labour Party Group on International Development said, "I am delighted that Scottish women MPs are supporting the Global Campaign for Education. Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and educating girls can make the difference between life and death. The G8 has not yet delivered on its promise that countries committed to getting all their children into school will have enough money to do so.¨

Senegal : Senegal's Action Week this year built a very good dynamic among civil society groups, with concerted collaboration among NGOs, teachers' unions and university students and lecturers. On 24 and 25 April, ANCEFA presented its research on the challenges and obstacles to Education for All in Senegal: the EFA plan is good, but "top-down". Financing is still a major hurdle. Donors have not come forward to back the plan. On 27 April, a round-table with unions, ANCEFA members and the Minister of education took place. There was a display of children's drawings and prizes were given to the winners alongside their teachers and their parents. The debate in the round-table focused on the question of civil society participation - illusion or reality? On 29 April, during a seminar organised by the Minister of Education and UNESCO BREDA, a special session was reserved for civil society, introduced by ANCEFA coordinator Gorgui Sow. This session was preceded by discussions with donors on the financing of Senegal's national plan.

Sierra Leone : The President himself officially launched the Global Action Week on 22 April. Yesterday, the teachers' union SLTU organised a public lecture on corruption in the public education system, together with the Anti-Corruption Commission. Today, 24 April, the Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports will make a presentation on the status of Education and EFA in Sierra Leone. On 25 April, the national winners of the Art and Essay Competitions will be presented with their prizes.There will also be radio discussions nationwide throughout the week on the theme: Education For All (EFA) is the Answer starting April 22 till April 28.

Spain : The teachers union FE.CC.OO is using the Action Week to focus public awareness and critical debate on the education reforms proposed by the Spanish government. FE.CC.OO launched "Platforms on Public Education" to organise debates, discussions and network social mobilisation.

South Africa : GCE South Africa led a series of marches during GAW. On 25 April, they presented Education Minister Kadar Asmal with his Dakar+2 school report. The report card gave the Ministry poor marks overall for its record on the six EFA goals, and meted out "F's" for lack of progress on early childhood education and adult literacy and an "E" on gender equity due to the shockingly widespread incidence of sexual violence in SA schools. The report card also broke new ground with evidence collected by a local NGO, ACCES, that students are being beaten, humiliated, denied their reports, or held back a year because of their parents' inability to pay school fees. They demanded a concrete plan addressing the abolition of school fees within the next two months. Another large march takes place on the following day in Johannesburg to call for improving adult literacy.

On South Africa's main TV news programme on 23 April, GCE SA spokesman Solly Mabusela highlighted the coalition's demand for school fees and other education charges to be abolished. "Fees are a tax on the poorest" is the message that the coalition is spreading this week through "Free to Learn" posters, stickers, t-shirts, and media interviews. Another key demand is for an Education Parliament to sit on 16 June (the anniversary of the 1976 student and youth uprising in Soweto) to draw up an inclusive national plan for education.

Sri Lanka : The five teachers' unions worked together to educate government officials on the value of the EFA process. The teachers unions printed posters to be displayed in schools and strategic places and will widely distribute leaflets.

Tanzania : Moshi Urban Network is held a workshop to share the findings of NGO research on the implementation of Tanzania's new primary education plan. Participants will include District Education officers, District Executive officer, School Committee members, Municipal Education Secretariat, District commissioner, Education inspector, NGOs/CBOs, Parents, School children/students, Journalist, and donors. Problems needing action were identified and possible ways forward recommended. GCE messages will be shared and action cards were signed.

Togo : The Global Action Week for Education was celebrated in Togo with a 30km march across the main roads of the capital city, Lomé. It was an impressive march with thousands of people, leading to a public meeting where the Ministry of Education as well as a representative from the World Bank were present. They were joined by hundreds of teachers, students, education inspectors, NGO partners and the Mayor of Lomé. Miss Togo 2002 also joined the meeting, promoting, especially, the rights of girl children and appealing to give them more opportunity to tend school.

Tonga : The teachers' union has organised television and radio debates, involving education officials and parents in discussing key challenges in achieving Education For All. Interviews will be released in the major newspaper Taimi Tonga.

UK : Get moving on EFA, kids told UK Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday. TV soap star Michelle Collins and teachers' union leader Steve Sinnott took a delegation of British school kids to the Prime Minister's office at no 10 Downing Street. They brought an album of drawings of "what I want to be when I grow up", made by children in several African countries. To everyone's surprise and delight, they were greeted at the door not by some minor official but by the Prime Minister himself. Blair came out for a photocall with all of the children and even invited a small group inside to have a look round. He took great interest in the drawings and gave a sympathetic hearing to the children's message that the G8 must back an ambitious plan to end the global education crisis.

Latin America : The Community of Signers of the Latin American Statement on Education for All (Pronunciamiento Latinoamericano), with over 3,000 signers and over a million members, marks the Action Week with a special declaration. It reviews the history of broken promises by governments in the region, and denounces the multiplication of parallel initiatives as a substitute for comprehensive and coordinated action. The declaration is being disseminated through the group's website and mailing list.

Africa (ANCEFA) : The ANCEFA network of African education coalitions has carried out case studies to assess progress made in the implementation of national strategies on EFA; appraise the level of civil society participation in the process; and review the level to which donors have fulfilled their financial commitments to EFA. Country case studies were used to produce position papers, themes for debate, etc. by ANCEFA network members and national coalitions during the Action Week. For example in Ghana a position paper based on the research was presented to the Minister of Education this week and in Mali, recommendations from the research were debated by major partners including Unesco on national television.

WEST AFRICA (Burkina, Mali, Niger, Ghana) : An education caravan is making its way across West Africa with a TV crew in its wake, to mobilise Ministries of Education, civil society groups and all partners towards honouring the commitments made at the Dakar Forum in 2000. Leaving from Bamako and making several stopovers en route, campaign buses carrying civil society activists and youth are travelling to the Mali/Niger border with ASSAFE and CCA ONG. There will be a handover of the caravan to the Niger network ROSEN tomorrow. The Niger caravan will then travel with ROSEN and CCA ONG to the Burkina Faso border, and meet up with the Burkina caravan led by CCEB/BF and l'Association Munyu des Femmes de Comoe. At the Burkina/Ghana border, the Burkina caravan will meet up with the Ghana Caravan, which will head for Accra with stopovers at Tamale and Kumasi.

At each stopover, the caravaneers will address the public on themes such as EFA, the importance of girls' education, protection against HIV / AIDS etc. The progress of the caravan will be shown on television news whenever possible.

If you can read this, thank a teacher. 

We’ve come a long way since the Global Campaign for Education started in 1999.  School fees have been dropped in many countries, millions more children can now go to school and the UK has just pledged $15 billion to education, which gives real promises that Education for All might become a reality. 

But, we still need at least 15 million more teachers, if every child is to have the chance of a good quality education.  

Right now, over 100 million children wake up every day without the hope that education offers. These children know AIDS, know poverty, know hard labour, know hunger… but they will never know a teacher. 

If we are to provide them with teachers, rich countries must follow the lead of the UK and provide long-term predictable funding to developing countries.  In order to plan ambitiously, governments need to a guarantee of long-term predictable aid from all rich countries.  

Global Action Week is now taking place in an amazing 115 nations.  The majority of countries have already collected evidence, about the need for more, qualified and trained teachers in developing countries.  Their evidence will be presented to officials who have been invited back-to-school and also at national ‘Big Hearings’.  Campaigners are putting officials on trial, for failed education promises and asking for their declarations that they must do better.