Girls from across Africa adopt action plan on education UNICEF reports

The 11-point Platform for Action was presented to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who pledged to deliver it to the UN General Assembly special session on children, slated to run from 19 to 21 September in New York. “I am honoured that the children of Africa have faith in me to carry their Action Plan to New York,” President Museveni told the youth participants attending the launching ceremony in Kampala. “In study after study, girls’ education emerges as the single best investment that any society can make,” UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy told the gathering earlier this week. “Educated girls become educated women – women who participate in the social, economic and political life of their nation.”The Platform for Action, discussed and debated by youth, ministers and experts during the three-day conference, spells out 11 points to promote quality education for girls in Africa. Among other measures, it calls for greater resources and legislation to ensure that girls participate in decisions affecting them. It also urges the abolition of all harmful practices that act as barriers to girls’ education, and the provision of equal opportunities in science, math and technology. In a region severely affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the conference also focused on the need to ensure the safety and security of girls both inside and outside of schools. “It is not just about health and sex education, it is about empowering girls to break the cycle of subordination,” said UNICEF Regional Director Urban Jonsson.Hosted by UNICEF, the Government of Uganda and the Forum for African Women Educationalists, the conference aimed to launch a Girls’ Education Movement – a major effort to transform schools and education systems into environments where girls can achieve and have equal opportunities. Over 150 youth and 20 ministers and deputy ministers of education participated from 40 African countries.