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Action On Education


new internationalist
issue 315 - August 1999


Oxfam International

Oxfam’s campaign ‘Education Now: Break the Cycle of Poverty’ has five core proposals:
A Global Action Plan to ensure that the target of universal primary education by the year 2015 is achieved.
2 Earlier and deeper debt reduction, with savings invested in basic education.
3 More and better aid for basic education, from both the World Bank and Northern governments.
4 Integrating human development into IMF and World Bank programmes so as to protect access to basic education.
5 Action by governments in developing countries, including removing school fees, converting military expenditure and improving teaching quality.

Global Week of Action

A worldwide alliance of teachers’ unions and non-governmental organizations is mounting a Global Week of Action on the right to high-quality public education. Scheduled for the run-up to the April 2000 World Education Conference in Dakar, Senegal, the aim is to put more pressure on aid donors and governments. Among the parallel events will be e-mail petitions, school-to-school solidarity links and a relay race to ‘pass the torch of learning’ around the world. For more details contact one of the organizations on the steering committee: ActionAid, Education International or Oxfam International.


Elimu is a grassroots campaign co-ordinated by ActionAid which strengthens the capacity of Southern organizations (from national bodies to local parent-teacher associations) to speak out on education issues. But to mark the last Literacy Day of the twentieth century – and address the fact that nearly one billion adults will enter the new millennium unable to read and write – Elimu is asking people in Northern countries to send postcards to their local parliamentary representative. Elimu’s suggested text is:

‘I have recently become aware of the global crisis in education. Around 125 million children across the developing world receive no primary schooling at all. One in four adults are illiterate. I am concerned that the poor are being denied their right to a good education. I support Elimu’s “Education is Life” campaign. Please urge the Government to increase aid to basic education in the poorest countries, and to end the practice of “tied” aid (requiring that aid be spent on goods and services in the donor country).’

Contact Elimu via ActionAid (see Britain below).



Education International is the international federation of teachers’ unions.
Post: 155 boulevard Emile-Jacqmain (8), 1210 Brussels, Belgium.
Tel: +32 2 224 0611. Fax: +32 2 224 0606.
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.ei-ie.org

Elimu Web: www.elimu.org
Contact by phone, fax or mail via ActionAid (see Britain, below)

Oxfam International Contact via your local country office, below.


Oxfam NZ is the best local contact point for the Oxfam International and Elimu campaigns.
Post: PO Box 68-357, Newton, Auckland 1032.
Tel: +64 9 358 1480. Fax: +64 9 358 1481.
E-mail: [email protected]


Community Aid Abroad is the best local contact point for the Oxfam International and Elimu campaigns.
Post: 156 George St, Fitzroy, Vic 3065.
Tel: +61 3 9289 9444. Fax: +61 3 9419 5318.
E-mail: [email protected]

Australian Education Union is the national umbrella body for all state teachers’ unions and is the best resource for campaigning. There are strong state offices but the federal office can be contacted at:
Post: PO Box 1158, South Melbourne, Victoria 3205.
Tel: +61 3 9254 1800. Fax: +61 3 9254 1805.
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.edunions.labor.net.au

Yunggorendi First Nations Centre of Higher Education & Research supports the access of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to tertiary study and establishes an environment where their history and culture can be respected.
Tel: +61 8 8201 3033.
Web: admin www.flinders.edu.au/studentinfo/yunggorendi.html


ActionAid and its European sibling agencies facilitate the Elimu campaign in the North. Its literacy programme, Reflect, has broken new ground all over the world. It is working with British and Irish anti-poverty groups to organize Elimu consultations highlighting the growing education inequalities in the North.
Post: Hamlyn House, Macdonald Road, Archway, London N19 5PG.
Tel: +44 207 561 7561. Fax: +44 207 272 0899.
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.actionaid.org

Human Scale Education is an organization dedicated to encouraging new initiatives and experiments, including smaller schools or learning projects and home learning. It is organizing an Alternatives in Education Fair in London on 25 September.
Post: 96 Carlingcott, Nr Bath BA2 8AW.
Tel/Fax: +44 1972 510709.
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.hse.home.clara.net

Oxfam Great Britain
274 Banbury Road, Oxford, England OX2 7DZ.
Tel: +44 1865 311 311. Fax: +44 1865 312 600.
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.oxfam.org.uk
A conference – ‘Facing the Global Crisis in Education’ – will be held by ActionAid and Oxfam in London on 8 Sept 1999.


Oxfam Canada is the best local contact point for the Oxfam International and Elimu campaigns.
Post: Suite 300-294 Albert St, Ottawa, Ont K1P 6E6.
Tel: +1 613 237 5236. Fax: +1 613 237 0524.
E-mail: [email protected]

CODE (Canadian Organization for Development Through Education) supports the formal education system in parts of Africa.
Post: 321 Chapel St, Ottawa, Ont K1N 7Z2.
Tel: +1 613 232 3569. Fax: +1 613 232 7435.

People for Education This activist group defends Ontario’s besieged education system.
Post: PO Box 64, Station P, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S6.
Tel: +1 416-534-0100.
E-mail: [email protected] Web: www.peopleforeducation.com


ACTIONAID Ireland Unity Buildings,
16-17 Lower O’Connell St, Dublin 1.
Tel: +353 1 878 7911. Fax: +353 1 878 6245.
E-mail: [email protected]

Oxfam in Ireland
19 Clanwilliam Terrace, Dublin 2.
Tel: +66 1 8544. Fax: +66 1 8568.
E-mail: [email protected]


Oxfam America is the best local contact point for the Oxfam International and Elimu campaigns.
Post: 26 West St, Boston, MA 02111-1206.
Tel: +1 617 482 1211. Fax: +1 617 728 2595.
E-mail: [email protected]

CACE (Center for the Analysis of Commercialism in Education)
An invaluable website which tracks the incursions of the education-for-profit companies. www.uwm.edu/Dept/CACE/



The US quarterly Rethinking Schools is a treasure trove of thoughtful writing by progressive teachers who have to deal with the right-wing education offensive from day to day. One-year subscriptions within the US are $12.50.
Post: 1001 E Keefe Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53212.
Tel: +44 1 414 964 9646. Fax: +1 414 964 7220.
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.rethinking schools.org

Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities (Harper Perennial) from 1991 remains a blistering indictment of the injustice built into US schooling, while Sandro Contenta’s Rituals of Failure (Between the Lines 1993) paints a similarly bleak picture of Canadian schools.

Teacher and writer Chris Searle has unfailingly promoted a radical, internationalist education agenda in Britain for three decades. None but our words (Open University Press, Buckingham and Philadelphia 1999) looks back on key incidents and insights in a life inspired by the great Brazilian literacy activist Paulo Freire, author of the classic Pedagogy of the Oppressed, who died last year.

The work of Howard Gardner (notably Multiple Intelligences, Basic Books, New York, 1993) remains a fascinating corrective to those politicians who believe children will benefit from a return to Victorian teaching values. What we should all be doing is looking forward rather than back and Edmund O’Sullivan’s book Transformative Vision for Education in the New Century (Zed 1999) does just that, putting ecology, justice and the human spirit in the forefront.

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New Internationalist issue 315 magazine cover This article is from the August 1999 issue of New Internationalist.
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