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Thousands of children take part in Day of the African Child run

A World at School, Day of the African Child

Dan Boyer is a Senior Project Coordinator for A World at School. He is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to participate in the Day of the African Child Youth Takeover at the African Union on June 16.

 

On the eve of the Day of the African Child, celebrated every year on June 16, to honour those students massacred in their struggle for equal education in apartheid South Africa, thousands of children gathered outside of the gate of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to send a message to world leaders – we are running out of time to fund global education.

The message was delivered in the most literal sense possible – a four-kilometre running race around the sparkling compound. I was lucky enough to be on hand to participate and document their inspiring cause.

Thousands of children dancing in the surrounding streets and chanting for “Education, Educación, Talim, Ukat!” served as a more than adequate substitute to my usual morning-boost,  strong Ethiopian coffee.

A World at School’s Dan Boyer, Chernor Bah and Maddie Serena

After listening to AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Kalokoh pump up the crowd, I joined up with youth delegates from Plan International and A World at School to see if I could keep up with the notorious reputation I’d heard of long-distance Ethiopian runners. A mere 10 metres later, I discovered that this reputation certainly holds true.

While I may have not been able to bask in the glory of the winner’s circle, I was truly inspired by the message of the run and the passion by which the hundreds of children backed it. 

Between 2000 and 2011, the government of Ethiopia more than doubled its spending on education, giving nearly four million out-of-school children their right to education during the same pperiod. It was clear that the children were not only running with purpose, their call to action was being heard.

A sea of runners takes part in the event outside the African Union

While progress is being made here in Ethiopia, there is much more work to be done. Tomorrow, the youth delegates will deliver their message to world leaders during the first ever Youth Takeover of the African Union, coinciding with more than 100 events held in a simultaneous show of support across the globe. 

The youth delegates will deliver a global call to action, demanding quality education and safe schools, in the African Union’s fitting Mandela Hall.

When world leaders convene in Brussels, Belgium, at the Global Partnership for Education’s second replenishment to fund global education in just 10 days, they will have the powerful echo of this call from the African Union to the takeover of Rio de Janeiro’s City Hall.

Smiles on the faces of some of the people taking part in the 4k run

Much like an Ethiopian distance runner – and with nothing less than a generation’s opportunity, hopes and dreams at stake – this movement will not stop until 57million out-of-school children are given their right to education, their right to realise their true potential.

Find out how you can join to take action and support the movement here.

You can see many more pictures from this great event on the A World at School Facebook page.

Don’t miss news, views and pictures from Day of the African Child and Youth Action Month.


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