Press Release: Global Campaign for Education ththGlobal Action Week on Education – The Big Read – 20 – 26 April
‘The Big Read’: 10 million expected to read stories from Nelson Mandela, Natalie Portman,
Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Angelique Kidjo and others
10 million people are expected to take part in The Big Read, to demand urgent action for the one in four women who
are illiterate. Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Angelique Kidjo and Alice Walker and others have contributed stories to The Big Read - a book aimed at challenging the global education crisis.
What? The Big Read is a book of short stories about education written by leading figures, Nobel Peace Prize winners and award winning authors. It has been distributed in more than 100 countries free of charge to children, parents and adult learners. All those that take part in The Big Read will add their name to a declaration - demanding that all
governments deliver a good quality free, public education. The Big Read is the Global Campaign for Education’s activity ththfor Action Week this year (20 – 26 April 2009).
“Learning to read and write changes lives; it means jobs, money, health and dreams fulfilled,” commented Her
Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, who is the Honorary Chair of Global Action Week, 2009.
Africa Media Teleconference Call: Angelique Kidjo, Grammy Award Winning Artist from Benin, and Ishmael Beah,
former child soldier and author from Sierra Leone, are joining lead advocates in the Global Campaign for Education’s ththAction Week. From April 20 – 26. They will be speaking about their involvement in The Big Read and the education stsituation especially in Africa. Join the call on Tuesday 21 April, at 17.00 - 18.00 (SA time) by dialling+1 913-312-0392,
Why? There are 774 million illiterate adults, 75 million children out of primary school and 226 million children not in secondary school. Nearly all governments have promised ‘Education for All’ by 2015, yet the current global financial crisis threatens to worsen the global situation and leave millions more without an education.
“The world’s poorest did not create this financial crisis, yet they stand to pay the highest price. Budget squeezes
in education are threatening to reverse progress made in recent years. We cannot allow illiteracy to rise. The
rich world has a responsibility to education – one of the best investments the world can make to combat poverty.
We are calling for $16 billion, a small fraction of the cost of the bank bailouts,” says Assibi Napoe, Chair of the
Global Campaign for Education.
Where? The Big Read is taking place across the world, in homes, schools, government buildings and public events. The first Big Read event took place in Johannesburg when Queen Rania, Simphiwe Dana, Basetsane Khumalo and Gcina thMhlope read their stories to children from Alexandra and Soweto on 27 March. Other Big Read events are taking place
across the continent:
Burundi - Activities and story collection is taking place in 17 provinces. The Minister for Education, dubbed the Godfather of the Education for All, is attending the event in Bujumbura.
Cameroon – Josué Baloma (Cefan2005@yahoo.fr or call 237 22 01 99 23) - Action Week is being launched with a big ceremony with sthundreds of officials and civil society representatives taking place on the 21 April, to which the Minister of Basic Education is ndexpected to attend. There is also a big ‘Big Read’ concert on the 22 April in Yaoundé, with over 2000 participants and the football
star ambassador Roger Milla.
Djibouti – This is the first year the country is carrying out the campaign and it will take place in ten national centres involving national libraries. There will be a national Big Read event in the Djibouti’s National Stadium.
DRC - Over 1000 schools are participating in the Big Read, in 11 provinces. In Kinshasa, The Big Read will take place in the conference
room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the presence of Ministers. There will be testimonies from various people on what being
able to read and write has done for them. On 26 April, more than five hundred learners will present a file in support of the Big Read.
Ethiopia – (Andiwo Obondoh: email@example.com or 254 444 4426) - The campaign is focusing on adult education – working
with the Adult and Livelihood Education Thematic Group (Forum). Contact Andiwo for latest event details.
The Gambia – (Matarr Baldeh: firstname.lastname@example.org or 220 810 1230) - The national highlight event will take place at Gambia
College, (the national teacher training centre). Stories and testimonies from Gambia’s celebrities and learners are being presented
against a backdrop of songs on the theme of adult literacy that have been written by trainee teachers. There are also events taking
place in literacy centres across the country.
Ghana - (KofiAsare: email@example.com or 233 21 762 055) The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition is organising a host of
activities during Action Week. A national durbar is being held at the Teachers Hall, at the end of the week, with a presentation to
the Minister of Education. 50% of women and 33% of men in Ghana are without basic literacy skills, and illiteracy rates being as high
as 76% in the northern regions.
Kenya - (Andiwo Obondoh: firstname.lastname@example.org or 254 444 4426) The Big Read is taking place in Kibera – in solidarity with the
people in the urban slum. Adult learners are sharing and reading their stories, at the Kibera District Commissioner's ground.
Lesotho - The Big Read has got off to a flying start with a press conference. The Big Read has been passed around civil society organisations and government departments collecting signatories in the book.
Malawi – (Benedicto Kondowe: email@example.com or 265 01 770 172) The President of Malawi is participating in the Big
Read. The campaign is presenting the government with a new national education manifesto, spelling out what needs to happen in Malawi. Adult learners in rural areas have been compiling a dossier with evidence of how they can benefit from literacy, and how
everyone having the chance of learning will contribute to the other ‘Education for All’ goals.
Nigeria – The national coalition CSACEFA is conducting a media campaign across the country on raising awareness on the education of Internally Displaced People in five states.
Sierra Leone – New ‘Education Watch’ research is being launched. The President and Members of Parliament have been invited to a highlight event in Freetown.
Somalia – The Big Read started with a media campaign on schools becoming violence free zones and a call to “aan ku biirno inta
aqrida” [let’s join readers]. Hundreds of universities and primary schools have been mobilised to take part.
Somaliland – Events include schools and centres using drama to motivate students, collecting stories on the success of literacy and carrying out local surveys on literacy levels.
South Africa – (Alex Kent firstname.lastname@example.org or 076 428 5390) a brand new education movement has been started
called ‘Public Participation in Education Network’. PPEN are taking the Big Read to libraries and schools across the nation, with a th June. Stories have been contributed by Simphiwe Dana, Basetsane Khumalo, Gcina Mhlope, highlight event taking place on the 16
George Bizos and many others. www.ppen.org.za
Swaziland - The campaign is working with the Swaziland Association of Librarians in hosting Big Read story telling events in 15 centres across the country. A big event is taking place in Mbabane with presentations from the Minister of Information Technology.
Tanzania – Research is being presented on youth and adult education to the government. The Prime Minister has been invited to open the event the national Big Read event, whilst government officials from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training,
politicians, and other education stakeholders will participate in the Big Read events.
Zambia - The Big Read Action Week ambassador is a female international boxing star, who has now decided to go back to school. Esther Phiri is also the literacy ambassador in Zed, where she encourages young people to go back to school as well as older people.
Notes to Editors
Contact: Alex Kent email@example.com +27 76 428 5390
stJoin the Media Call with Angelique Kidjo, Ishmael Beah and lead education advocates on Tuesday 21 April 15.00 GMT. Dial in to:
+1 913-312-0392, passcode: 212140 (RSVP & Recording: firstname.lastname@example.org or +27 76 428 5390)
High resolution photos, footage and audio files available, on the FTP www.campaignforeducation.org/media-ftp or by contacting
Interview with Muleya Mwananyanda: Muleya is a human rights activist and researcher with extensive human rights work experience. She is currently the Action Week Coordinator for the Global Campaign for Education
The Big Read contains stories from Nelson Mandela, Natalie Portman, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Queen Rania, Paulo Coelho, Angelique Kidjo, Ishmael Beah, Michael Morpurgo, Mary Robinson, Rowan Williams, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dakota Blue Richards and others. To publish the stories please contact email@example.com. The text must include “this story is part
of The Big Read, a campaign to end illiteracy. Add your name to the Big Read on www.campaignforeducation.org/bigread”
The Global Campaign for Education, founded in 1999, brings together major non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and teachers’
unions in more than 120 countries. GCE promotes access to education as a basic human right and raises public awareness to create the political will for governments and other leaders in the international community to fulfil their promises to provide at least a free,
public basic education for all children. Every April GCE organizes a week of campaigning on education called Global Action thth – 26 April www.campaignforeducation.org/bigread Week. This year’s Action Week is called ‘The Big Read’ 20
The state of education in Africa today:
- There are 33 million children out of school in Africa - majority (18 million )of them girls
- 50% of children up to the age of 12 in Malawi can't read & write (even school going kids)
- Two-thirds of all children arrive at primary school under-nourished or with a disability that will likely impair their education
achievement throughout their lives.
- In Sub-Saharan Africa 22 countries offering secondary education to less than one-quarter of the school-aged population.
- Huge gains have been made since 2000 in getting children to school, as school fees have been dropped in kenya, tanzania,
Burundi and other countries, yet this progress may be lost as a result of the global financial crisis.
- UNESCO predicts a drop in 20% per capita of Africa’s poor that will force the poorest countries to reduce their spend on
- UNESCO claims Mozambique, Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Rwanda and Bangladesh, to be most at risk.
- The European Union’s aid commitment alone looks set to be $4.6 billion lower than in previous years.
Education is crucial for economic, social and physical wellbeing and tackling poverty:
- A person’s earnings increase by 10% for each year of schooling they receive, translating to a 1% annual increase in GDP if
good quality education is offered to the entire population.
- Seven million cases of HIV/AIDS could be prevented in the next decade if every child received an education.
- A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive pass the age of 5 years
- Education combats hunger - gains in women’s education made the most significant difference in reducing malnutrition
between 1970-1995; a more important role than increased food availability.