South Africa

Focus on education on World Cup sidelines

Reuters

Half of the world’s children who are not in primary school are African. This was the message given to participants at an education summit called by South African President Jacob Zuma, who took advantage of the presence of VIPs in town for the World Cup.

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Zuma produced a football star, a beauty queen and a 12-year-old student from Soweto to get across the message that education is his government’s top priority and the one thing underprivileged South Africans want most.

He said advances have been made, but not enough.

“There are approximately 72 million children, almost half of whom are in Africa, who are not attending school,” he said. “In addition, more than 700 million adults across the world do not have basic literacy skills.”

He said the forthcoming United Nation’s millennium development goals meeting in September, and the possible delay in delivering on those goals, must encourage everyone to redouble efforts to ensure they don’t prolong the suffering of those most affected.

The final statement made it clear the onus is on the developed world to provide vital assistance to the poorer countries. If nothing changes, 56 million people will be left out of school in 2015, which the statement says is unacceptable.

As the meeting was organised around the World Cup, the head of the world football federation, Fifa, Sepp Blatter, was invited to speak. He said he wants to make education for all a legacy of the first world cup in Africa.

He says the financial assistance must be followed up with organisation if the objective is to be reached.

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