The Global Campaign for Education’s Congress was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil from 22-24 January, and attended by 300 participants. The opening ceremony was addressed by Luiz Dulci, Brazil's Minister for General Secretary of the Presidency, by Vernor Muñoz, the UN Special Rapporteur on Education Rights, and by a representative of the Fast Track Initiative Secretariat.
The delegates heard that 72 million children are currently out of school and 700 million adults are illiterate. This was deemed intolerable and unacceptable by all the GCE Congress delegates who regarded it as a gross violation of human rights on a global scale. They demanded that rich countries honour their promises made to the world's children by increasing Official Development Aid (ODA) to US$18 billion, so as to ensure Quality Education For All children.
Delegates agreed that illiteracy was the biggest scandal of our times, and that education today was in serious crisis. The crisis has been exacerbated by the "war against terror" and by globalisation, which has increased the impoverishment of millions of people. Congress participants reaffirmed their commitment to realise the Education For All goals. They said that they would not allow the international community to continue making excuses for its failure to live up to its promises.
Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of Global March Against Child Labour and founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), was unanimously re-elected as its President. Assibi Napoe, EI's Chief Regional Coordinator for Africa, was appointed to the post of Chairperson of the EFA coalition. She succeeds Elie Jouen, EI Deputy General Secretary. Gaston De La Haye, EI Deputy General Secretary, was elected member of the board.
"This is the first time that such a large number of committed individuals and organisations have gathered under one roof to make Education For All a reality," commented Kailash Satyarthi. "Education is affordable and achievable, and the GCE through its unique character of children, teachers and NGO's collective effort, will generate adequate political will through mass actions and force politicians to keep their promises." Education International has been an active partner within the GCE since its formation prior to the Dakar World Education Forum in 1999. The GCE aims to ensure civil society input is taken into account in the realisation of the Education For All goals and it puts pressure on governments to commit themselves to EFA and make progress towards its goals. Each year, EI member organisations actively participate in the activities organised during Global Action Week to lobby their governments to work harder to realise the EFA goals. This year’s GAW will take place from 21st to 26th of April. The estimated number of out-of-school children fell from 100 million in 2000 to 72 million in 2007. Although significant progress has clearly been made, more effort has to be made to make EFA a reality.