Join Up For Education Right Now
A basic education is a right inherent to being human, each child’s birthright and thus constitutes an end in itself. However, education is also a means to an end: it is required to ensure all people can live in a dignified manner and participate effectively in society. It also enables human beings to exercise all the other human rights (enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights).
There is often a gap between the language of “rights” and the setting of “development goals” such as the Education For All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (which are often more influential in defining the actions of governments). The EFA Goals, that were reaffirmed at the Dakar World Education Forum in 2000, were unusual in recognising the right to education:
The Right To Education
2007, is a crucial year as it is the mid-point towards the EFA goals. Time is running out to achieve these. It is an important moment for demanding more urgent action to achieve education rights. Rather than being a distant ideal these rights need to be converted into a reality now – and the EFA goals give the deadline.
The focus on Education as a Human Right leads the campaign to promote the entire Education For All agenda. Too many governments have been pressurised to make choices between investing in one part of EFA over another. But education rights cannot be traded off against one another. Adults and pre-school children have as much right to education as primary school children. A rights-based approach means we need to look at the 6 EFA goals holistically or as a chain – rather than taking any one of them separately.
Delivering on these 6 EFA goals is not an act of charity by governments – rather it is their responsibility as governments to deliver on the right to education for all their citizens. If a government fails, it is not just that they are missing out on a globally agreed goal - rather they will be violating a basic right and should be held accountable.
Focusing on “rights” should give us more passion and purpose than ever.
The central concept underlying this year’s Global Action Week campaign is that civil society would create a chain of testimony and accountability from local to national then onto regional and international so that world leaders are at the end of a civil society monitoring chain - a ‘chain’ of people joining hands and messages to pass up the realities of where EFA is ‘on the ground’ and what violations there are to education as a human right.
The previous Global Action Week campaigns have shown that if we unite and speak with one voice, we can make a powerful impact and force our leaders to take action before it is too late. The EFA goals must be met and the leaders of the world should not let another generation of children and adults go without an education.
Campaigners should take heart from the fact that there has been some progress over the last decade. For example:
- In the last 5 years an estimated 40 million children are now going to school
- School fees and charges have been drastically reduced in many countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi
- Bangladesh now has equal numbers of girls as boys attending primary school
However, major challenges remain; where access to education has improved, systems are struggling to meet increased demand and the quality of education can suffer. And there remain many countries where fees, charges and lack of education infrastructure keep large numbers of children out of school. There has also been chronic under-investment in Early Childhood Care and Education and Adult Literacy programmes. It is therefore imperative that GCE keeps up the pressure that is starting to see some positive, if slow results. The main focus for the 2007 Join Up For Education activities will be centred on the concept of ‘chains’. These can either be represented through artwork such as paper cut-outs or chains of real people joining hands.
The GAW 2007 challenge is for everyone to Join Up and form the longest ‘people chain’ ever across the world so that leaders can see how campaigners everywhere demand that the right to education is realised for the millions and millions of people who otherwise will not receive an education – something that is their right. Over 100 countries will be involved in building the chain.
The Big Chain Re-Action is the main focus of the GAW 2007 campaign with human chains formed in marches, rally, races, vigils and dances. This should ideally end in the delivery of nationally collected ’files’ to the President or Prime Minister at the national Big Chain Re-actions.
As the main focus of this year’s campaign people chains should take place locally, nationally and internationally around the world. The numbers of people involved need to be added together nationally but then there also needs to be a function available to all coalitions to add the numbers of chains to a global tally in order to see how many people take part in this Human Chain around the world. This would mean people joining hands or making ‘friend’ style cut out figures as paper chains that join together.
The chains act as the means of the delivery of the files and evidence to Governments. These could be photographed from above and also spell out the key messages and slogans around the issues of ‘education rights’ and that ‘the time to act is now!’ This could lead to good photo opportunities which then get counted for the final tally of the Worlds’ Largest People Chain to be handed over to World Leaders. This is important for the international aspect of the campaign. It will allow the GCE secretariat to co-ordinate a ‘moment’ during 2007, i.e. G8 leaders, when the global tally of ‘chains’ are handed over to the world leaders and it is a clear way of showing the strength and size of the movement.
How to Do This
Coalitions can organise the making of chains by either:
- Creating a paper chain representing everyone who supports the Right For Education For All.
- Linking hands and taking a picture or making a film of the chain
- Thinking of other creative ways to show coalitions ‘joining up’ to the campaign.
Once coalitions have created their chain related parts of the campaign it is VERY IMPORTANT to register the number involved online – go to www.campaignforeducation.org and look for instructions for how to do this. Ifthis is not possible each coalition needs to send in their validation forms early firstname.lastname@example.org to keep a tally of the numbers involved. In this way the GCE secretariat will be able to keep a clear tally of how long the chain is nationally and internationally. The more people to join up the bigger the political impact!