More than 130 million of the world's children will never have the chance to go to school. An estimated 960 million adults are illiterate. These stark facts were outlined at the launch of a new education initiative by Manos Unidas, a Spanish Catholic NGO.
The charity hope their work will help reach the second of the 'Millennium Goals' adopted by the UN: "Universal Primary Instruction". It fits also into the framework of a UN Decade for Primary Instruction (2003-2012) and the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's encyclical Populorum Progressio on the development of peoples which states "basic education is the first objective for any nation seeking to develop itself. Lack of education is as serious as lack of food; the illiterate is a starved spirit" (PP 35).
The goals of the campaign are to offer children the opportunity to go to school and learn to read and write; work effectively to eradicate all forms of child labour and recruitment of child soldiers, prevent children from leaving school early; increased funding for education and better management of these funds; that governments put public expenses education before military expenses.
The charity will be working in Sudan, Ecuador and Cambodia. In Sudan Manos Unidas supports 40 education programmes for displaced persons living in camps in Khartoum, Wau and El Obeid. Manos Unidas volunteers help build schools, train teachers and promote education to peace.
Manos Unidas points out that a one per cent reduction in the world's annual military expenditure would be sufficient to guarantee universal primary education.
© Independent Catholic News 2007