Mary Robinson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Professor Muhammad Yunus Call on Leaders of G8 Countries
WASHINGTON, DC (June 30, 2009) — In an open letter sent today to the leaders of all G8 countries, Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town; Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland; and Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, called on G8 heads of state to renew their commitment to the world’s children. The authors of the letter specifically asked the leaders to announce an agreement on the creation of a Global Fund for Education (GFE) at the G8 Summit, which will be held July 8–10 in L’Aquila, Italy.
The letter acknowledges the world’s financial climate, but notes that world leaders must “provide the safety net of knowledge to the world’s poorest children and save them from paying with their lives for our financial mistakes. Education must be an integral part of the global response to the economic crisis.”
Worldwide, 75 million children are unable to attend school, 226 million adolescents are not enrolled in secondary school, and 770 million adults remain illiterate. In over 50 countries, many in sub-Saharan Africa, half of all children never complete primary school. Yet literacy is widely considered a prerequisite for economic development, and education the key to breaking inter-generational cycles of poverty. Despite this, global aid for basic education has been decreasing at an alarming rate.
The authors of the letter stressed the importance of U.S. leadership on this issue, citing President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to make $2 billion available for the launch of the GFE. “Such a bold and ambitious plan should be endorsed by other members of the G8 through a public commitment to such an initiative, which must be launched before the end of the year with full funding,” the letter said.
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