NEA backs global right to education

WASHINGTON—The statistics are staggering. More than 100 million children of school age have never set foot inside a classroom or had the opportunity to know a teacher. Another 150 million children will drop out before they finish elementary school. And in many African countries, more than half of all girls never finish elementary school, and only one out of every five girls attends school beyond the sixth grade.

With a new program called "Send My Friend to School Week," the National Education Association is appealing to its 2.8 million members to reach out to their leaders in government and secure their promise for a free, quality, basic education for every child in the world. The appeal is part of the Global Campaign for Education Action Week, which runs April 24–30. Oscar winner Angelina Jolie is honorary chair of the 2006 "Send My Friend to School Week." 

"Access to a great public school is a basic right for every child," said NEA president Reg Weaver. "A child’s birthplace or economic situation should never dictate whether he or she receives an education," added Weaver, who also serves as the vice president of Education International, which represents 29 million teachers, higher education faculty and education support professionals in 166 countries.

At the 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, international leaders declared that "no country seriously committed to basic education will be thwarted in the achievement of this goal by lack of resources." Governments made a commitment to achieve quality, basic education for all by 2015, with a particular emphasis on girls' schooling.
As more than 115 countries around the world prepare to celebrate Global Action Week, NEA will shine the spotlight on this urgent global education need and call on the U.S. government to fulfill its promise to fund this initiative.
NEA members will work with their students to "Make the Case." Students will hold mock hearings or create life-size cutouts to make the case for the 100 million children who lack access to education. These home-made messages will be directed to President Bush and members of Congress to remind the federal government of its commitment to funding global education.

 "Every day our members educate more than 48 million public school students," said Weaver. "Together we can make a difference and urge members of Congress to have our government provide its fair share of funding to help children worldwide."