“I didn’t know what else was in the world. I had never even seen paper until I was rescued four years ago, and it was then I first went to school. Now, I want to be able to read and write. I want to be a teacher when I grow up.”
These were 11-year old, Devli Kumari's words when she spoke at the United Nation's event to launch the ‘Education for All’ campaign during the General Assembly session.
Devli spoke of her life and experience as a child laborer in India. The event was attended by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, pop stars Bono and Bob Geldof, and other dignitaries.
She is a step closer to realzing her dream to be a teacher. As she spoke, a group of government and private-sector partners were making a pledge of $4.5 billion to help educate some 15 million children worldwide over the next three years. The partners are participants in, ‘Education for All: Class of 2015’, the campaign launched during the event. The pledge came from corporations such as Intel, Microsoft and Cisco, civic and sports associations such as FIFA, charities, faith groups and the Governments of Australia, France, Norway, Spain, Saudi Arabia, the European Union and the United Kingdom.
After the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, where world leaders pledged to ensure universal primary education by 2015, it still has not met its goal. UNICEF’s programmes focus on ensuring the right to quality education for all girls and boys, eliminating gender disparities in education, restoring learning in emergency situations and helping to rebuild education systems in post-crisis transition countries.
As Queen Rania of Jordan put it, “Schools don’t just build lives, they save lives. It is a test we cannot afford to fail.”