Lilongwe, Malawi, 6th April, 2010—Madonna today joined the Earth Institute, Ericsson and Millennium Promise to announce a new global education initiative aimed at supporting access to primary and secondary education for every child in the world, with an emphasis on girls’ secondary schooling. The initiative—Connect To Learn—will provide secondary school scholarships, with a special focus on girls, and implement information and communications technology (“ICT”) in schools, enhancing the overall quality and availability of the education.
This powerful partnership is designed to address the current global crisis in education, and encourage others to answer the urgent call, which requires action by individuals, corporations, non-profits and governments around the world. More than 70 million girls and boys are not enrolled in primary school. Hundreds of millions are unable to attend secondary school, even when they pass the qualifying exams. Far more than half of those are girls, who face many unique challenges to accessing school. In addition, the quality of education, even for those with access, is often lacking.
Commented Madonna, “It’s time for a change. There are millions of kids around the world not in school so we’re inviting everyone to join us in hooking kids up with access to a basic education through scholarships, and the opportunities that come with access to technology and the world’s information.”
The Connect To Learn initiative aims to increase awareness and raise funds through online giving, corporate partnerships and foundation investments. These funds will provide secondary school scholarships and will also expand a program of school-to-school partnerships, connecting students through the Internet with counterparts in classrooms around the world. In the coming months the initiative will be building partnerships and gearing up for maximum global impact.
“We are embarking on this initiative because there is nothing more important than assuring that today’s young people have the education and skills to be productive global citizens in the 21st century,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute, Columbia University, President of Millennium Promise, and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“We live in an Information Age, and education is the key to prosperity, health, and even survival. Too many children are forced out of school at an early age, because of lack of financial means or the lack of adequate facilities to learn at the school. This is especially true of young girls, who continue to face special barriers in many societies to continuing their education.” Today we have the means to ensure that every young person is able to thrive at school and to connect to the world of knowledge through the Internet, thereby creating a worldwide community of knowledge and mutual understanding in our interconnected age,” said Sachs.
“Connect To Learn is committed to ensure that all young people — boys and girls — can complete a secondary education, knowing that this is the path to ending poverty, ensuring prosperity, and creating a more peaceful and sustainable planet.”
Commented Hans Vestberg, President & CEO of Ericsson, “Broadband is now vital everywhere in the world, and can enable a high quality 21st century education, even at the primary and secondary level. Students all over the world have the possibility to share ideas and learn from each other. It’s time for the classroom to go global and go mobile, since mobile networks have started to surpass fixed in many parts of the world– in discussion,
social networking, and curriculum design and implementation – With the latest communication technology and our global scale, Ericsson is uniquely suited to shaping this new world for future generations.”
“The global education challenge needs a partnership strategy that draws on the best insights of business, government, technology, academia, and community leadership. A special emphasis on the unique benefits and needs of girls' education can promote society-wide breakthroughs in health, gender equality, and economic development around the developing world," said John McArthur, CEO of Millennium Promise.
Initial scholarship disbursement for secondary students and ICT implementation for schools through the Connect To Learn initiative will leverage the infrastructure of the Millennium Villages, which reach half a million people across 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, to ensure successful start-up of the global education initiative’s programmatic efforts. After the initial launch in Africa, the alliance will work to support education and scholarship campaigns in other developing countries and to establish partnerships in support of the cause globally.
Ericsson is also providing the mobile platform via its eStore solution, which extends the awareness of the campaign to all Internet enabled mobile users globally.
To donate or learn more, please visit the campaign web site at www.connecttolearn.org.