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British School Girls Help Mandela Promote Free Primary Education

Two young girls from Britain will join former South African president Nelson Mandela on Monday to call for free quality education for all children in the developing world. The Global Campaign for Education is sponsoring a publicity event in Mozambique to ask Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, Gordon Brown, along with other world leaders, to keep their promise to provide primary education for all.

Nicky Wimble is with Oxfam, one of the campaign members, and is in Maputo for the occasion. She told Voice of America reporter Cole Mallard that the girls, 12-year-old Jenade Sharma and 13-year-old Lily King Taylor, will say to Gordon Brown, “Commit your money; we want action; send your money to these poor countries so that they can build schools, train teachers, pay teachers a living salary -- so that these teachers stay in their jobs and don’t go and look for a higher paid position in private business…in their country. So it’s really an initiative…for getting teachers into the schools.”

She says the initiative “is a bit dismal at the moment; we’re way off, especially in terms of Africa. It’s not going to happen unless the donor countries act on those promises.”

She says Mozambique “is a brilliant case study,” showing “great success over the last couple of years”; the government has committed 20% of its budget to primary education. But Wimble says a lot more financial help is needed from donors. She says Mozambique is one of 20 countries that have qualified for support. Others are Ethiopia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Niger and Zambia.