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Educ'n Critical for Children in Nepalese Conflict

Education Critical for Children Caught in Nepalese Conflict

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 14 SEPTEMBER 2006

Education Critical for Children Caught in Nepalese Conflict

Save the Children is demonstrating that children can become the focus for constructive collaboration, even in a conflict zone. They are working with both the Nepalese Government and Maoist rebels, building up the trust of local communities, to provide education for thousands of children in Nepal who have not been able to go to school.

Nepal is one of 7 top priority countries in Save the Children's “Rewrite the Future” campaign, lauched by the Prime Minister Helen Clark in Parliament yesterday. The campaign aims to raise enough money to provide basic education for 8 million children in armed conflict zones. Other countries in the group are: Afghanistan, Angola, Cote D'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Uganda.

"Education is the single most important thing which we as adults can do for children living in conflict affected countries like Nepal. They, more than most, need the benefits which education can bring: protection, stability, and the potential to start building a peaceful and prosperous society," said John Bowis, Executive Director of Save the Children New Zealand.

"I met some of these children on my recent visit to one of our projects in Nepal where 1000 private schools have been closed due to Maoist activity. It's a dire situation, which we are working in. More than half of all girls and 80 per cent of lower caste “Dalit” children are not getting a basic education. Only one third of primary school teachers are trained, while over 1 million primary aged children do not go to school at all.

"Save the Children has established local committees who identify which children are not in school and why. This information is incorporated into a school improvement plan, with the committee accepting responsibility for sending all children over the age of six to school regularly. In these areas enrolment now exceeds 90 per cent, the pass rate has increased from 39 per cent to 68 per cent, and the drop out rate has fallen from 23 per cent to 2 per cent.

"The commitment of local people is unbelievable in this situations. Communities are constructing schools using materials supplied by Save the Children. Teachers like Laxmi (see attached photo) at Dhumrethumka Community School have to walk 2 hours up steep hillsides to get to and from school.

"Save the Children is calling on the Government, the people of New Zealand and the international community to join us in this campaign to provide quality education to 8 million children, like those in Nepal, living in conflict affected countries by year 2010. This ambitious campaign will cost NZ$700 million, so we need all of the financial help we can get.

--

Background

More information on the Rewrite the Future campaign can be found on our website:
www.savethechildren.org.nz


Also accessible on the website: John Bowis' speech for more information on our work in Nepal


There are 115 million children of primary school age who currently cannot go to school in this modern and civilised world. 43 million of these are in countries which have recently been, or still are, affected by conflict: 29 million in Africa, 12 million in Asia, and 2 million in the rest of the World, including 231,000 in Papua New Guinea.

- In Somalia 9 out of 10 children do not go to school.

- In Afghanistan half of primary aged children do not attend school.

- In North Sudan less than 30% of girls attend school.

- In Nepal 20% of primary aged children are not in school.

Save the Children's Rewrite the Future campaign will:

- Ensure access to quality education for 3 million children and improve the quality of education for 5 million more.

- Work to make schools safe and a key tool for protecting children affected by conflict.

- Influence governments and international agencies to put policies and resources in place to provide quality education for all children – which the world committed to by 2015 under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s).

ENDS

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