Millions of children from very poor families still do not have access to schools where they could succeed.

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Statement by ATD Fourth World before the ECOSOC in July 2011.

ATD Fourth World has issued a statement before the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) in July 2011 (E/2011/NG0/83). This statement addressed the difficulties faced by families living in extreme poverty in sending their children off to school. In addition to raising those concerns, the statement also considered various solutions to deal with those issues.

The 2010 Millennium Development Goals Report suggests that despite the considerable investment and efforts put into providing children with educational facilities throughout the world, progress has been slow and insufficient to achieve the goals set by Objective 2 of the Report, i.e. to ensure that by 2015 all children- boys and girls would be able to complete primary education.

In its statement, ATD Fourth World highlights the causes of such failures, such as:

  • Bad housing, the lack of access to clean water or other factors relating to their poor living conditions like, for instance, the opportunity cost of those children being sent to school while they could contribute to raising an additional income to support their families. All those factors put together act as a bar to the children having access to full time education;
  • The discrimination faced by the children coming from such a poor background, when they are confronted by the remarks of their teachers and other children at school as to clothing;
  • The lack of motivation and the low expectations from the professionals in the education system;
  • The direct and indirect costs of education- at times in the form of bribery by teachers or from the administrative staff of the school;
  • The lack of understanding and respect for cultural diversity accounted for by the activities and school hours, thereby causing tensions with families living in conditions of extreme poverty;
  • The difficulty of dialogue between parents living in extreme poverty and the education system.

The suggestions put forward are:

  • Tailoring the school activities to account for the needs and demands of the local community;
  • Reinforcing the trust and confidence of parents and children in the education system;
  • Guaranteeing that education is provided to children which is free and of high quality for all.

Clic here for acces to the complete statement

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