500 students demand Education Rights Now !

Around 500 boys and girls contributed on April 24 to make up the longest human chain for the right to education. They joined millions of activists around the world to demand world leaders to comply with their promises made to attain education for all at the Dakar World Education Forum, 2002, and the United Nations Millennium Education Goals.

 

Leire Pajin, Secretary of State for Cooperation and representatives of different political parties joined the human chain. Students demanded the Spanish government to guarantee access to education for all, one of the basic rights which is still not guaranteed at international levels.

 

Speakers at the Event

Lucía Rodríguez, Global Education Campaign spokesman for Spain.

"We are here another year to demand the right to education for all. Since 2003, the Global Education Campaign organizes, joining the efforts of many NGOs and social movements, activities to remind that the right to education should be recognized by all. We are here, in front of the Foreign Office building, celebrating this activity which is one of the many being held in Spain today, tomorrow and throughout this week in more than 75 Spanish cities.

Boys and girls will stand in the streets of their towns asking the political officials to comply with the social commitments for education. All of us here in Spain are joining more than 6 million people in more than 120 countries over the world who are voicing the same demand. This year, with your help, we want to make the longest human chain in the world for a good cause: a long chain as an expression of solidarity to demand the right to education; secondly this human chain means that we are all together assuming the responsibility of achieving an education for all; in the third place the chain's  links symbolize that the six goals set must be achieved all together and that one has no meaning without the other.

What we demand is a basic education for the whole life, a permanent process from childhood to adults and a quality education. I will end my words because I know that you have been working all week, studying where education stands in other countries and on your demands to the government. Today is a unique occasion since we have the Secretary of State for Cooperation here with us. I therefore ask two of you to come up and express your demands. Guillermo and Teresa, please come forward".

Only if we are able to guarantee that public education is a country's right, that the Governments of the South take education seriously, we will be able to build a fairer world. Therefore I will not only continue to work but I ask you to return here in a few months and ask us again what we have done, because our obligation is to answer you. But I will also ask you something: that you continue to raise your voice and not get tired of shouting, no to forget that you are privileged, that there are many children like you who have nothing, and that is why all of us, me more than you, have the obligation to continue shouting."

 

Leire Pajín, Secretary of State for Cooperation

"Good morning. First of all, I want to thank you for being here. My name is Leire Pajín, Secretary of State for Cooperation. I work in this building and I want to thank you for being aware that although you go to school every day, there are 80 million boys and girls who do not go to school, who are not allowed to go to school, who do not have the right to go to school. This is why I am very grateful that you are here, to shout loudly and to voice that we cannot let this happen in our world today. My grandparents and your great grand parents, not long ago in this country also had difficulties in going to school and they worked very hard so that you and I could have a good education and find a good job and a dignified life.

Because of this and because we have the privilege of living in Spain, where education is compulsory and guaranteed, we have the obligation of working so that other children in other countries will have what we have. The governments have a special obligation and we have to answer before you like today in this square and before all the other children, because it is not their fault that they belong to an unfair world that leaves them in the side walk.

We have spent three years working hard to increase the education budget for the South, we have reached 7% but we still want to get to 8% and we have to continue working. We are at the head of countries engaged in activities to build schools and dignified jobs for teachers in Sub Saharan Africa with the Fast Track Initiative. We have just opened a school in marginal areas such as Candeal, Brazil, where for the first time, children can go to school. We have opened a school-workshop in Brazil, which has been chosen as one of the most important projects in the country; I have just visited a month ago another school in Buenaventura, Colombia, where children displaced by violence can go to school. I have seen schools built in Sudan, in refugee camps, but it is not enough.

Only if we are able to guarantee that public education is a country's right, that the Governments of the South take education seriously, we will be able to build a fairer world. Therefore I will not only continue to work but I ask you to return here in a few months and ask us again what we have done, because our obligation is to answer you. But I will also ask you something: that you continue to raise your voice and not get tired of shouting, no to forget that you are privileged, that there are many children like you who have nothing, and that is why all of us, me more than you, have the obligation to continue shouting."

Teresa (student)

"We are here because education is just as important for us as it is for you and I would like to talk about education in the world: today with millions of others in the world, we want to join the human chain for the right to education. Education is a right that all people should have when they are born, it is also the tool to be able to live with dignity and if they live in poverty, to enable them to walk out of it. Education enables other human rights. However, today more than 80 million children do not go to school and more than 700 adults do not know how to read or write. We are here because we believe that this situation can change and because education for all can be achieved".

 

Guillermo (student)

"In order to change this situation we ask the Spanish government to comply with its commitments and to allocate more money for primary education in the South, giving at least 8 out of the 100 Euros which the government gives in aid to developing countries; allowing that the money owed by  the countries impoverished by external debt be used to finance a quality education; supporting international initiatives to finance education and support for teacher training programmes in these countries...Spain can also help to finance teachers temporally when needed..."