Feature

Education Now: Break the Cycle of Poverty

Pat McAdie

The Education Now campaign has been endorsed by Education International, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, and overwhelmingly by the delegates to the 1999 Annual Meeting of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

In 1990, the leaders and representatives from 155 nations met in Thailand, along with representatives from the United Nations and the World Bank. The governments vowed to ensure that education for all became a priority, signing a plan to give every child in the world a good primary education by the year 2000.

Today, on the eve of the millennium, millions of children around the world are still denied the right to an education.

  • 125 million children have never attended school, two- thirds of whom are girls.
  • Another 150 million children of primary age start school, but drop out before they can read or write.
  • One in four adults in the developing world is illiterate - 872 million people.

We have lost a decade of opportunity - an opportunity to lift the young adults and children around the world from the scourge of poverty.

Oxfam International has begun a campaign to try to refocus our efforts — Education Now, Break the Cycle of Poverty. Oxfam maintains that education for all is affordable, costing an additional $8 billion each year. This is equivalent to:

  • 4 days worth of global military spending;
  • 7 days worth of currency speculation in international markets;
  • less than half of what American parents spend on toys for their children each year;
  • less than the annual amount that Europeans spend on computer games or mineral water.
  • less than one year’s interest on Ontario’s public debt.

Oxfam is calling for urgent changes to international policy to ensure education for all becomes a reality. They are calling for deeper and quicker debt reduction for those countries committed to using the extra resources to invest in basic education and increased aid to support education.

To support these efforts, many ETFO Locals ran advertisements on World Teachers’ Day (October 5th) outlining the problem and endorsing the Oxfam campaign. Throughout the coming months, we will be looking at other ways to lend our support to ensuring that all children receive the education they deserve. Teachers, schools and ETFO Locals may wish to look at twinning with schools in developing countries, raising funds to support education in developing countries, and integrating projects on developing countries into the curriculum.

Teachers are a force for social change. What we wish for our children, we wish for all.

For more information on the Oxfam campaign, you can visit their website at www. oxfam. org/educationnow.

Pat McAdie works in ETFO's Strategic Services Department.

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