Global Education Action Week 2007

During Global Education Action Week 2007, activities will take place worldwide to raise awareness ab

This week and up to 29 April millions of children around the world will be joining together in activities as part of Global Education Action Week.

The Global Campaign for Education initiated the idea five years ago to raise awareness about the importance of providing every child with a proper education.

Throughout the week, children will participate in events aimed to remind local and national leaders that they need to place literacy and education at the top of their political agendas.

This year, many children made human and paper chains to signify the right to education that every child has, no matter where they live. They are encouraged to send their paper chains to world leaders attending the G8 conference this June, and schools across the globe have been doing so, as well as raising awareness in other creative ways.

The Global Campaign for Education also invites people to show their support by signing up to an online chain on its Join up! website, which currently has over 40,000 participants.

And we at newstatesman.com would like to invite children, teachers, parents and education supporters all over the world to share their experiences during this week's activities by submitting them in writing and pictures to our website at online@newstatesman.co.uk.

Manor Park Public School, Ottawa, Canada

About 600 children in grades one through six at Manor Park Public School launched Global Education Action Week on April 17 by opening the huge paper chain each had contributed to in the gymnasium. Then Irene Adanusa, President of Education International Africa Region and General Secretary of the Ghanaian Teachers' Association, spoke about what education was like in Ghana, and Member of Parliament for Vanier, Hon. Mauril Bélange, offered his help to any of them who were willing to work on providing education to a particular worldwide community.

The children commented on their experiences.

"Education is very important for the world. Everyone, adults, teenagers, children should have and education. Throughout the world, right now, children are the most important people to have education. Many children don’t have the opportunity to be what they want to be or to do what they want to do because of a lack of education.

The week of April 23, 2007 is Global Action Week. Throughout this week people around the world joined in this campaign to raise awareness to help the children who have no education. Kids around the world made people or paper chains to show how important education is. This campaign helped a lot! But still, to give education for all by 2015 we still need 18 million more teachers. Over 80 million kids still don’t have an education.

To me, it’s very important for children to have an education. I want their dreams to come true. I want them to have a future! I hope the people from richer countries feel the same way and do something about it. Families in poor countries need the money to survive. If their children have an education they might become teachers and help their families. It’s important for everyone to have an education!"

-Laily Popal

"Why is education important? Why can't people just "live" without it? Because without an education, you never know what the future holds for you. Drugs, alcohol, things that sometimes lead to even...DEATH! A lot of people have made promises,but why haven't these promises been made? Doesn't everyone deserve an education? Some children must work hard to support their families when they should be in school learning. but why are these things happening? Over 18 million teachers are needed so that EVERY SINGLE child gets an education. but we cannot do it alone. You must help. So go ahead, and save a life."

-Matouga Mohamed

"Education is important for all children because there are over 1 million children that have dreams of becoming doctors, dentists, firemen, policemen and lots of other lifesaving professions. These children can make a difference in the
future.

All children have a right to get educated. One day you will realize that you made the right choice and maybe they might help you!

Help the uneducated!"

-Ibrahim Matar

"Why is education important for all the children in the world to have? Well,
education is one of the most important things to have in the world. If you
don't have an education, it will be even harder to be what you want to be,
and do what you want to do. My school, Manor Park, had an assembly about
global education. We invited some people to come and talk to us about global
education. Amazingly, we had a lady come all the way from Ghana to talk
about it! For example, she stated how Africa does not have enough qualified
teachers for all the children, as well as the fact that they don't have
enough schools. If everyone in the world could hear something like this, it
would have a huge impact on the understanding of the importance of global
education."

-Simon Mertick

Ysgol Emmanuel, Rhyl, Wales,

On April 20, the 471 students and staff at Ysgol Emmanuel in Wales came together to show off the paper chain they had been making to local MP, Chris Ruane. The children will be sending the chain, which includes contributions from children ages four to 11, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in preparation for the G8 meeting in June.

Some of the children shared their thoughts on the fight for global education.

"It is really good to help others."
-Reilly, age 9

"I didn't know there were so many children not in school, that is amazing!"
-Kelsi, age 8

"Its not fair for them. We do loads of fun things at school!"
-Cameron, age 9

"My mum says I should never break a promise so I don't think they should!"
-Jared, age 11

Taipei, Taiwan

"The National Teacher's Assocaiton planned the ‘Official Back to School Day’ on April 23 inviting administration representatives and legislators to schools and joining hands with the children in support of the campaign. There students asked officials to sign-up to the campaign, thereby undertaking to urge the Government to keep its promise of promoting quality education for all both in Taiwan and around the world. Through the campaign, children learned not only to cherish the education resources in Taiwan, also to take social responsibility to fight for everyone's education rights."
-Liao Wan-Ju, Associate Director of Dipl. Dep., NTA, Taiwan

Spain

More than 70 cities in Spain have been united in Global Education activities. Tens of thousands of students, professors, parents and mothers are making human chains. Not only the students are participating in the mobilizations. Politicians are, as well, and among them is Leyre Pajín, State Secretary of Development. He participated in the chain in Madrid and is committed to continue working so that the Education is a right for all the children of the planet.

Music, the dances and the games have brightened up the central acts, turning them an authentic celebration.

Human chains have been created in many of Spain's large cities. In Barcelona one was created in Sagrada Family Square, in Seville, a chain was created in front of the cathedral and ,in Madrid, it took place in the Plaza Mayor. In Aragón, the Plaza del Pillar was united forming a chain.

In the Canary Islands, radio ECCA emits weekly programs, in collaboration with the UNESCO, in which the institutional children and representatives look for solutions to facilitate the right to the Education of All.

In Cantabria the mobilization will be massive in the main localities of the region. In the Basque Country all the mayors and delegates of education participate. In Navarra, they will mobilize themselves on the most centric streets. And, in La Rioja, children of two and three years will mobilize until they have gone to the patios of the schools.

Hana Bieliauskas is a junior at Ohio University majoring in magazine journalism. She is currently studying in London.
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The French millennials marching behind Marine Le Pen

A Front National rally attracts former socialists with manicured beards, and a lesbian couple. 

“In 85 days, Marine will be President of the French Republic!” The 150-strong crowd cheered at the sound of the words. On stage, the speaker, the vice-president of the far-right Front National (FN), Florian Philippot, continued: “We will be told that it’s the apocalypse, by the same banks, media, politicians, who were telling the British that Brexit would be an immediate catastrophe.

"Well, they voted, and it’s not! The British are much better off than we are!” The applause grew louder and louder. 

I was in the medieval city of Metz, in a municipal hall near the banks of the Moselle River, a tributary of the Rhine from which the region takes its name. The German border lies 49km east; Luxembourg City is less than an hour’s drive away. This is the "Country of the Three Borders", equidistant from Strasbourg and Frankfurt, and French, German and French again after various wars. Yet for all that local history is deeply rooted in the wider European history, votes for the Front National rank among the highest nationally, and continue to rise at every poll. 

In rural Moselle, “Marine”, as the Front National leader Marine Le Pen is known, has an envoy. In 2014, the well-spoken, elite-educated Philippot, 35, ran for mayor in Forbach, a former miner’s town near the border. He lost to the Socialist candidate but has visited regularly since. Enough for the locals to call him “Florian".

I grew up in a small town, Saint-Avold, halfway between Metz and Forbach. When my grandfather was working in the then-prosperous coal mines, the Moselle region attracted many foreign workers. Many of my fellow schoolmates bore Italian and Polish surnames. But the last mine closed in 2004, and now, some of the immigrants’ grandchildren are voting for the National Front.

Returning, I can't help but wonder: How did my generation, born with the Maastricht treaty, end up turning to the Eurosceptic, hard right FN?

“We’ve seen what the other political parties do – it’s always the same. We must try something else," said Candice Bertrand, 23, She might not be part of the group asking Philippot for selfies, but she had voted FN at every election, and her family agreed. “My mum was a Communist, then voted for [Nicolas] Sarkozy, and now she votes FN. She’s come a long way.”  The way, it seemed, was political distrust.

Minutes earlier, Philippot had pleaded with the audience to talk to their relatives and neighbours. Bertrand had brought her girlfriend, Lola, whom she was trying to convince to vote FN.  Lola wouldn’t give her surname – her strongly left-wing family would “certainly not” like to know she was there. She herself had never voted.

This infuriated Bertrand. “Women have fought for the right to vote!” she declared. Daily chats with Bertrand and her family had warmed up Lola to voting Le Pen in the first round, although not yet in the second. “I’m scared of a major change,” she confided, looking lost. “It’s a bit too extreme.” Both were too young to remember 2002, when a presidential victory for the then-Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, was only a few percentage points away.

Since then, under the leadership of his daughter, Marine, the FN has broken every record. But in this region, the FN’s success isn’t new. In 2002, when liberal France was shocked to see Le Pen reach the second round of the presidential election, the FN was already sailing in Moselle. Le Pen grabbed 23.7 per cent of the Moselle vote in the first round and 21.9 per cent in the second, compared to 16.9 per cent and 17.8 per cent nationally. 

The far-right vote in Moselle remained higher than the national average before skyrocketing in 2012. By then, the younger, softer-looking Marine had taken over the party. In that year, the FN won an astonishing 24.7 per cent of the Moselle vote, and 17.8 per cent nationwide.

For some people of my generation, the FN has already provided opportunities. With his manicured beard and chic suit, Emilien Noé still looks like the Young Socialist he was between 16 and 18 years old. But looks can be deceiving. “I have been disgusted by the internal politics at the Socialist Party, the lack of respect for the low-ranked campaigners," he told me. So instead, he stood as the FN’s youngest national candidate to become mayor in his village, Gosselming, in 2014. “I entered directly into action," he said. (He lost). Now, at just 21, Noé is the FN’s youth coordinator for Eastern France.

Metz, Creative Commons licence credit Morgaine

Next to him stood Kevin Pfeiffer, 27. He told me he used to believe in the Socialist ideal, too - in 2007, as a 17-year-old, he backed Ségolène Royal against Sarkozy. But he is now a FN local councillor and acts as the party's general co-ordinator in the region. Both Noé and Pfeiffer radiated a quiet self-confidence, the sort that such swift rises induces. They shared a deep respect for the young-achiever-in-chief: Philippot. “We’re young and we know we can have perspectives in this party without being a graduate of l’ENA,” said another activist, Olivier Musci, 24. (The elite school Ecole Nationale d’Administration, or ENA, is considered something of a mandatory finishing school for politicians. It counts Francois Hollande and Jacques Chirac among its alumni. Ironically, Philippot is one, too.)

“Florian” likes to say that the FN scores the highest among the young. “Today’s youth have not grown up in a left-right divide”, he told me when I asked why. “The big topics, for them, were Maastricht, 9/11, the Chinese competition, and now Brexit. They have grown up in a political world structured around two poles: globalism versus patriotism.” Notably, half his speech was dedicated to ridiculing the FN's most probably rival, the maverick centrist Emmanuel Macron. “It is a time of the nations. Macron is the opposite of that," Philippot declared. 

At the rally, the blue, red and white flame, the FN’s historic logo, was nowhere to be seen. Even the words “Front National” had deserted the posters, which were instead plastered with “in the name of the people” slogans beneath Marine’s name and large smile. But everyone wears a blue rose at the buttonhole. “It’s the synthesis between the left’s rose and the right’s blue colour”, Pfeiffer said. “The symbol of the impossible becoming possible.” So, neither left nor right? I ask, echoing Macron’s campaign appeal. “Or both left and right”, Pfeiffer answered with a grin.

This nationwide rebranding follows years of efforts to polish the party’s jackass image, forged by decades of xenophobic, racist and anti-Semitic declarations by Le Pen Sr. His daughter evicted him from the party in 2015.

Still, Le Pen’s main pledges revolve around the same issue her father obsessed over - immigration. The resources spent on "dealing with migrants" will, Le Pen promises, be redirected to address the concerns of "the French people". Unemployment, which has been hovering at 10 per cent for years, is very much one of them. Moselle's damaged job market is a booster for the FN - between 10 and 12 per cent of young people are unemployed.

Yet the two phenomena cannot always rationally be linked. The female FN supporters I met candidly admitted they drove from France to Luxembourg every day for work and, like many locals, often went shopping in Germany. Yet they hoped to see the candidate of “Frexit” enter the Elysee palace in May. “We've never had problems to work in Luxembourg. Why would that change?” asked Bertrand. (Le Pen's “144 campaign pledges” promise frontier workers “special measures” to cross the border once out of the Schengen area, which sounds very much like the concept of the Schengen area itself.)

Grégoire Laloux, 21, studied history at the University of Metz. He didn't believe in the European Union. “Countries have their own interests. There are people, but no European people,” he said. “Marine is different because she defends patriotism, sovereignty, French greatness and French history.” He compared Le Pen to Richelieu, the cardinal who made Louis XIV's absolute monarchy possible:  “She, too, wants to build a modern state.”

French populists are quick to link the country's current problems to immigration, and these FN supporters were no exception. “With 7m poor and unemployed, we can't accept all the world's misery,” Olivier Musci, 24, a grandchild of Polish and Italian immigrants, told me. “Those we welcome must serve the country and be proud to be here.”

Lola echoed this call for more assimilation. “At our shopping centre, everyone speaks Arabic now," she said. "People have spat on us, thrown pebbles at us because we're lesbians. But I'm in my country and I have the right to do what I want.” When I asked if the people who attacked them were migrants, she was not so sure. “Let's say, they weren't white.”

Trump promised to “Make America Great Again”. To where would Le Pen's France return? Would it be sovereign again? White again? French again? Ruled by absolutism again? She has blurred enough lines to seduce voters her father never could – the young, the gay, the left-wingers. At the end of his speech, under the rebranded banners, Philippot invited the audience to sing La Marseillaise with him. And in one voice they did: “To arms citizens! Form your battalions! March, march, let impure blood, water our furrows...” The song is the same as the one I knew growing up. But it seemed to me, this time, a more sinister tune.