Congratulations Kevin Watkins and UNESCO. This site will change the world.
A decade or so ago when we were building the Jubilee 2000 campaign to drop the debts of the poorest countries, we realised that an essential accompaniment to the moral argument was the hard, incontrovertible, “killer fact.” In that case, it was the reality that for every dollar going in aid from rich to poor countries, three dollars was coming back in debt repayments. At a stroke, the notion of who was “aiding” whom was turned on its head.
The debt cancellation delivered by that campaign helped cut the number of out-of-school kids by 40 million. Education – as Nelson Mandela said – is “the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Now we must finish the job, and the football world is coming together like never before in this historic World Cup year behind 1GOAL: a bid to get all the remaining 72 million children into school.
South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, is leading the way. His announcement that he intends to bring together world leaders at the time of the World Cup to agree on a course towards education for every child has put fuel in the engine of this campaign and sparked hope of a breakthrough. His leadership then needs to be picked up at the UN Millennium Development Goals summit in New York in September, where education must be at the heart of a wider rescue plan for the promises the world has made to its poorest citizens.
In the 1GOAL campaign, we will do our part. When the campaign launches in April, millions of people – from schoolchildren to business leaders, football fans to policy makers – will add their voices to the campaign, signing their names for the 72 million who can’t. The world knows this needs to be done, and in the 21st century, we all know that with the necessary political will, it has to be possible. What the World Education Blog can do is show us how. We don’t have to agree on all the detail. But disagreement on the detail cannot be an excuse for failure to act.
So with the beautiful alliance of pointy-headed policy wonkery and passionate campaigning energy, this site can change not just one world, but 72 million. And that will make 2010 a year to remember. Whoever wins the World Cup.