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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Meeting with Lynne Featherstone Undersecretary of State at the Department for International Development

‘We were thrilled to be invited to speak with Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the Department for International Development along with other students from across the UK. We all wanted to ask the minister what the UK government is doing to make sure every child worldwide gets the chance to go to school.

The four of us from Ringwood School travelled on the train to London and kept busy during the long journey by making plans for the meeting.  We were joined by two of the global campaigners Katy Barrett and Samantha Kimberley. We were all travelling to London to represent half a million young people in the UK deeply concerned about the 57 million children worldwide who are missing out on education.

We were invited to Oxfam HQ for the morning, with the meeting with Lynne Featherstone scheduled for the afternoon. The primary objective at Oxfam was to prepare a collage representing all the campaigning by Ringwood School and the other four schools. The collage was then to be presented to Lynne Featherstone. We found the thought of the collage daunting:  how could we summarise all this campaigning in one small collage? ‘Just do the highlights’ said Oxfam’s John McLaverty. Easier said than done!  Although we had an obvious edge with this wealth of material we were careful to let the other schools to show what they had done in their own brilliant campaigns.  We really enjoyed hearing about other schools’ campaigns; everyone got on really well and we decided that making the collage was fun.  There was room for everything and, as the photo shows, the final piece looked great!

Next came the high point of the day; our private meeting with the Minister. We went by cab to the Department for International Development, DFID, in Whitehall and were given smart identity badges. Sam quickly introduced everyone and our photos were taken with the minister together with the collage we’d made earlier. The meeting with Ms Featherstone followed and we enjoyed  posing questions such as, “How can we ensure that children who are disabled get the education they need?” and, after seeing how poor some teaching had been in Delhi, “How can we make sure that teaching is of good quality?”  The meeting was chaired by Sam.  He had the challenging task of keeping the meeting to time, and learning everyone’s name in order to call them up to question the minister at the appropriate time.

Ms Featherstone warmed to our questions and answered them as honestly as she could. We learnt a great deal about what the government is doing to try to get all children into education by 2015. She admitted that this goal would not be met!  At the end of the meeting we formally presented Lynne Featherstone with their collage and discussed each school’s efforts to help the Send My Friend to School campaign.  We knew Ms Featherstone had been involved in the campaign in her constituency so were slightly surprised to learn that at this point she seemed completely unaware that we had been to India on a visit to the slums!
Ms Featherstone said,”It was fantastic to meet such passionate children who care so much about the world they are growing up in and helping to shape. I was impressed by their understanding of the importance of education and their commitment to help less fortunate children across the world receive the education they deserve. Education acts as a ladder out of poverty and helps young people reach their full potential. Making sure children in developing countries get a good education is a priority for DFID and we are working with other countries to make sure that education is an important part of the new set of development goals to be agreed in 2015.” 

We left Whitehall with Zahra and Aaron from Kingsbury High and much enjoyed their company.  After photos under Big Ben, we swapped Facebook and Twitter details and went our separate ways. What a fantastic day. Thank you Oxfam and GCE UK for giving us this great opportunity”

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Wanted: young campaigners to go on a fact-finding trip to Uganda!

Wanted: young campaigners to go on a fact-finding trip to Uganda!

A national competition to find the Young Global Education Ambassadors for 2014 is now open to schoolchildren in the UK. The winners will have the opportunity to visit Uganda in early 2014 with the charity Sightsavers and the Global Campaign for Education. 

They are looking for two bright, articulate and passionate and 14/15 year olds (Year 10 pupils) to apply through their school for the Steve Sinnott Award. 

This competition will give the winners, and their teacher, an amazing trip to Uganda to investigate the barriers to education, particularly for children with disabilities. This competition is open to all secondary schools and applications where one or both of the candidates has a special educational need or disability are encouraged.

Find out more:

Millie says: 'This year has been the best year of my life. I loved every minute of it but especially seeing first-hand the education challenges in India and participating in Malala Day. It is demanding and very hard work but such an important campaign deserves such commitment. I urge you to apply, GoodLuck!'

Child Refugees of Syria

Over the last two weeks we have been running assemblies and tutor time activities to raise awareness of the thousands of children how have become refugees as a result of the conflict. There is hardly a day that goes by that the Syrian conflict doesn't reach headline news across the world. It is so important that we do not forget about the thousands of children who have been affected and as a result are missing out on their education.

We delivered with the help of our global campaigns team assemblies to most year groups telling them of the children who are all too often forgotten about! 

We told a story of Israa, a 13-year-old from Syria. Israa and her family were forced to flee Syria after civil war broke out in March 2011 and it became too dangerous for them to stay. The photo shows her in her old home.  They now live in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan.
She says,
Before the war started we spent our time playing outside the house but after it started we had to stay in all the time. We missed a lot of school —sometimes we only went once per week.”
“Bombs fell next to my house. We heard they were raiding our village,  and that if they found people hiding they would kill them. The electricity was cut off; we only had 15-30 minutes every three days.”
“We couldn't bring anything with us to the refugee camp. We brought nothing but one change of clothes and one pair of shoes each. We left everything else behind and my mum’s told me that now everything’s gone - it’s been destroyed.”
“If we return to Syria, we will live in a tent while we rebuild our house. We lost our house but we have our lives.” 

Since 2011, 1.9 million Syrian children in years 1-9 have lost their schooling with 3,000 schools damaged or destroyed. Over 1 million children are now refugees of Syria.  Over 3 million children are still living in Syria in dire situations. These are only a few of the shocking statistics!
All students watched a short film:

This talks about the ‘Education without boarder’ plan to give 300,000 child refugees of Syria education in the countries they have fled to.

Students really engaged within the activities. In tutor groups they were ask to think about the rights of children in Syria and whether they are being met or not.

I feel the activities and assemblies have once again reminded everyone in the school of how lucky we are to live in England and the importance of providing support and education to all children regardless of their situation.