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Closing the Gender Gap in Education
June 27, 2002

"The rainbow is more beautiful than the pot at the end of it, because the rainbow is now. And the pot never turns out to be quite what I expected." —Hugh Prather


According to UNICEF, ...more than 130 million children in the world, the majority of them girls, are not enrolled in schools. The girls who are enrolled must struggle to learn against the pernicious gender bias so institutionalized and entrenched that it pervades policies and practices, curricula and textbooks, and interactions among teachers and students. UNICEF is committed to promoting "Education for All," with these understandings about the importance of education...

"That educating children opens an infinity of possibilities for them that they would otherwise be denied: a better chance to lead healthy and productive lives, to build strong and nurturing families, to participate fully in the civic affairs of their communities, molding mores and values, creating culture and shaping history.

"That when a nation strives to educate all its young people -- girls as well as boys, the poor and the disadvantaged child as well as any other -- then that nation lays a solid foundation for progress and sustainable development, catalyzing freedom and democracy within its borders and extending its reach as an agent of international peace and security.

"That education play a crucial role in solving the most complex problems facing any country: child labour, HIV/AIDS, poverty and disparity, community violence and civil conflict, and the devaluing of girls and women.

"That education's obvious usefulness to individuals and countries, while a strong argument in support of its value, is secondary to the more fundamental reason why it demands our attention. In truth, the world has no choice but to pay heed and ensure a basic education of good quality to all children. Such is their due as one of their inherent human rights.

"That ensuring children their right to education ensures their other rights as well, including the rights to survival, development and participation.

"And that by ensuring girls their right to education, we take the critical first step towards dismantling the gender discrimination that threatens all other rights."

This declaration was presented in the UNICEF publication "Education For All: No Excuses." To order this publication and learn more about UNICEF's efforts to promote education, go to www.unicef.org.


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