UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Peter Krämer Foundation have kicked off a new fundraising drive to raise US$80 million to help Africa’s girls, orphans, children living in extreme poverty and other vulnerable children go to school and get a quality education.

The partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in New York, to expand Schools for Africa which has, to date, helped benefit 21 million children. The new phase aims to raise US$80 million between 2014 – 2017 to help the most vulnerable children in Angola, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“School attendance and quality learning remain a challenge for millions of children in Africa who live in communities where schools have difficulties in improving learning,” said Dr. Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF Director of Programmes. “In addition, these children must cope with such daily hardships as poverty and the need to work. The partnership focuses on the most marginalized, giving millions a chance for a better life.”

When it started in 2004, Schools for Africa aimed to raise US$50 million by 2008 to help over four million children in six countries. It reached its goal one year early. In the second phase, 2010 – 2013, the initiative added five more countries. So far, Schools for Africa has raised more than US$164 million for education programmes. Building on its success, Phase III, launched today, added two more countries —Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone.

“Nelson Mandela believes that education is the strongest weapon available to change any society for the better,” said Mr. Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. “This next milestone of Schools for Africa brings his dream of education for all closer.”

The initiative has helped rebuild schools, provide safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, immunization and health checks for children, school meals and train teachers in some of the most remote areas. The initiative also supports the work of the Nelson Mandela Institute (NMI) in Eastern Cape which aims to improve access to quality education in rural areas through research, teacher and leadership development, community mobilization and through building strong and lasting public institutions.

The NMI introduced Magic Classrooms – an innovative approach intended to create an environment that makes learning and teaching fun. There are now more than 70 vibrant and colourful Magic Classrooms for children between 6 and 9 years of age in Qunu, Mqanduli and Bizana in Eastern Cape.

The need for funding is crucial because, despite the significant progress in education over the past decade, according to data released last week by the Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report, of the 57 million children primary-school-age out of school in 2011, almost 30 million were in sub-Saharan Africa. The region also has the highest out-of-school rate of all regions. More than one in five primary school-age children have either never attended school or left before completing the last grade of primary education.

“When all children have access to a quality education rooted in human rights and gender equality, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences generations to come,” said Mr. Peter Krämer, Chairperson of the Peter Krämer Foundation, partner and key donor of the initiative.

The signing of the MoU further strengthens the existing and continued partnership and support from major individual, corporate and foundation donors such as, Gucci, IKEA Foundation, Montblanc, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and many others.

Source: UNICEF

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