Posts tagged ‘education’
It’s been a whirlwind of activity in New York. To give you an idea of the crazy week we have had out here, this is a snapshot of what I’ve seen and done…
8.30 in a taxi with bollywood movie star Rahul Bose talking about the progress on education and health in India. Followed swiftly by briefing with Kristen Davis making the comparison of the 700 billion dollar bank bail out all over the media this week, and the mere 50 billion the G8 promised to poverty eradication and have still not delivered on.
Next, a big but crowded room where 4.5 billion dollars was committed specifically to getting more kids into school, and where Bono solemnly pledged to continue to be a pain in the bum if leaders did not keep their promise. Ok, so he may have worded it a bit more colourfully…. At this event, the Global Campaign for Education invited leaders, companies and activists to be part of their ‘class of 2015’ and to step up progress on getting all kids into school. And definite progress was made here with some new money being put on the table.
Sneaking across the hall to find out what was happening on malaria, and hearing 3 billion dollars being pledged for bed nets and medicines.
Then on to a smaller and even more crowded room where governments and companies pledged to take action to save the lives of millions of women dying needlessly in pregnancy and childbirth every year.
Some of you have already taken action on this crucial issue back at home, to make sure your leaders got the message before they come to New York. For those of you who weren’t lucky enough to be involved, take a look at these flashmob videos on YouTube to see what your fellow campaigners in France, Germany, Netherlands and the UK have been up to. There is no doubt that thanks to many of you this issue was taken very seriously in New York.
That’s a lot of billions and a lot of activity I hear you say. So what’s the result of the whirlwind?
Most of the money pledged in New York for health, education, water and sanitation by rich countries was not new money. So those billions sound impressive, but it mostly money that rich governments have already promised before. And frankly that’s disappointing.
But these same leaders did make more specific pledges to invest their money in the right ways – in getting children into school, saving women and children’s lives, and getting taps and toilets for all people. And that’s impressive. There is definitely something to celebrate. So this is a massive thank you to all of you who have taken action – it made a difference.
So our verdict. This was a great boost to keeping governments focused on health, education, water and sanitation for all. Let’s hope the class of 2015 can keep its concentration up so we can give them all an A in 7 years time!
by Dominique Jenkins, Oxfam Popular Mobilization & Media Coordinator
The term horse trading is an Americanism that dates back to early 19th century and refers to intricacies of assessing, bargaining and trading of horses. Apparently one had to be a shrewd dealer in order to obtain the best horse for the best price or vice versa.
Of course Accra, the site of the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, is a far cry from 19th century America but the big dealers or rather donors were no doubt conducting the business of last minute bargaining to come up with aid terms in the interest of their countries. In the end, donors and recipients agreed on five development markers aimed at poverty eradication and aid effectiveness.
Driving around parts of Accra it is easy to see why Ghana is cited by the World Bank one of three countries in Africa that has made considerable progress in effectively using foreign aid to reduce poverty.
Judging by the location of the Forum, Ghana’s International Conference Center, which boasts of large, air conditioned meeting rooms, where wi-fi internet service and copious servings of hot tea, and of course cocoa (Ghana is the world’s second largest producer) were available, and observing the construction site of the impressive new presidential residence, a shopping mall and many upscale eateries frequented by a growing middle class in Accra, it is easy to see why the country has gained this distinction and to assume that things are going quite well for all Ghanaians.
Yet, this burgeoning urban affluence is a stark contrast to the young women and men hawking food and household goods on the streets. Many of them are about two tro-tros (customized vans carrying about 25 passengers around the city and connecting to rural areas) voyages away from villages where things are not quite the same. Of Ghana’s population of 23 million, well over half are small scale farmers and fisher folks living in rural areas and barely making ends meet. And considering that social spending coming from foreign aid is not sufficiently targeted to the rural poor in Ghana, like most countries, many are lacking essential public education and health services.
As my airplane descended into Dakar, Senegal a few days after the forum, the reality of the need for more and better aid hit home even more. Here urban and rural reside side by side as horses with carts carrying goods and supplies wait right next to BMW SUVs for traffic lights to change. The sanitation workers have been on strike for a few days and street children and others who have migrated from the rural areas dodge overflowing trashcans to beg for money. Senegal, unlike Ghana, is a LDC. The awareness of the need for effective distribution of aid is unavoidable.
So after the horse-trading has ended and everyone has packed up and gone their respective ways the real outcome remains to be seen by those who are at the heart of the issue – the poor and vulnerable in developing countries. The hopes of many, and the benefit to those in need, will be that donors and recipient countries keep their word to ensure that aid is properly filtered to them, and that when the dealing is done all will be better off because of better aid.
by Dominique Jenkins, Oxfam Popular Mobilization & Media Coordinator
“We are one people; we are one nation; we have one destiny,” sang a group of musicians at the opening of the Civil Society Forum on Aid Effectiveness taking in place in Accra, Ghana from August 31 through September 1st. This meeting precedes the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness that starts the following day.
Yet as delegates prepare for the forum, the bottom line issues are anything but high level as the decisions made here have a huge impact on very basic services essential to development – such as funding for education and health services, particularly for women.
Just before the start of the official Forum, the Accra Women’s forum was held to strategize. A series of discussions with hundreds of representatives from around the world provided recommendations to make aid work better for women, and help make gender equality a reality.
One participant, Bouare Samake head of the Mali chapter of the Women in Law and Development in Africa program, who works with grassroots women’s development organizations, is particularly concerned that the needs of rural women and families will certainly not be met following this meeting. “The process to obtain funding is too complex and far reaching. Yes, donors pledge money, but the process is often long and not earmarked for women’s issues. Women want to be more involved in the process to assure that our issues are considered at all levels.”
Now, many of our colleagues here are waiting to see how these talks will impact on the 1.4 billion people – most of them women – living below the poverty line are. And through the myriad ways in which their concerns are shared, what they would like to see is donors recognizing that we are one nation with one destiny, one that demonstrates global gender justice and economic justice.
by Avinash Kumar, Oxfam’s For All campaign team, India
In 2004 India elected a new government who promise to improve the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people in India. It promised a “Common Minimum Program” including more health centers and schools.
In the same year 40 organizations in India (including Oxfam!) began a movement to raise the voices of hundreds of thousands of people calling for the government to keep their promises, and deliver justice to all people in India. ‘Wada Na Todo Abhiyan’ (or ‘Keep the Promises’) is still going strong and now includes an amazing 3000 organizations from 23 states in India. On 17th October 2007, a staggering 1,236,979 people in 15 states took part in campaign actions to mark World Poverty Day. That’s more than a million people in just one day!
Children leading the campaigning!
As part of this movement, India has also launched the ‘Nine is Mine’ campaign led by children across the country. They are calling for 9% of India’s income to be spent on health & education for all. More than 4,000 children launched a petition in October 2006 in Delhi, and following wide media coverage, 20 of the children met the Prime Minister who listened to their demands and assured them of his support. In just one month more than 300,000 signatures were sent to the Finance Minister, and the children also met the Chairperson of the Child Rights Commission.
Since then, 5,000 signatures a day were sent off to the Finance Minister every month until January 2008. The campaign is keeping the pressure up!
Short video on the ‘Nine is Mine’ campaign.
Massive public campaigning in India has led to some amazing successes.
1. Health & education spending has increased
Following the children’s meeting with the Prime Minister, the next budget saw health spending up by a quarter and education spending up a third. This was still not enough to meet the government’s own promises – but it was a bigger increase than expected because of India’s campaigning!
2. New education bill passed
In an historic victory, after years of delay the Government is finally bringing the Right to Education bill to parliament. If this is passed, it will mean that primary and secondary education for everyone is a requirement by law.
We will be keeping you updated with the latest from the ‘Keep the Promises’ campaign in future blog posts here. To get involved you can visit the ‘Wada Na Todo Abhiyan’ website or take action in our Health & Education For All campaign.