NEW YORK/ADDIS ABABA, 21 April 2015–UNICEF and ING, a Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation, today announced the renewal of a decade-long partnership that to date has provided access to better quality education for more than 1 million of the world’s hardest-to-reach children.
During the past 10 years, ING has inspired its employees and customers worldwide to raise funds for UNICEF, helping to improve children’s access to education in remote communities in Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Nepal and Zambia.
In Ethiopia, 458 Alternative Basic Education Centres for pastoralist children have been built, benefiting over 50,000 children. Andover 3,400 facilitators (teachers from the community) have been trained to apply a ‘childfriendly’ teaching method.
“ING shares UNICEF’s deep commitment to improving the lives and well-being of children and young people around the world,” said Koos Timmermans, Member and Vice-Chairman, Management Board Banking, ING. “We are united by a conviction that education is a fundamental building block for the development of children and their societies. We are proud that with the support from our customers and employees, the ING–UNICEF partnership has positively affected the lives of 1 million disadvantaged children.”
The partnership has trained 17,000 teachers and has been instrumental in the development of new ways to reach marginalised children. In 2006, ING was one of the first investors to support Alternative Basic Education Centres, providing much needed educational opportunities for pastoralist children in Ethiopia. The strategy has now been fully integrated into the country’s education system. In Nepal, ING was also the first investor to support the Adolescent Development and Participation programme in 2013, helping to equip young people with social and financial skills.
The second phase of the partnership will shift its focus to adolescents. While the world has made remarkable progress for millions of children over the past decades – reducing child mortality, increasing the number of children enrolled in primary school, and expanding access to health care services – far too many of the 1.2 billion adolescents worldwide have been left behind.
“UNICEF is grateful to ING – and especially to its employees and customers – for their commitment to improving children’s lives and futures,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We are excited that our renewed partnership with ING will focus on reaching adolescents and helping them develop the knowledge and skills they need to build brighter futures for themselves, their families, and the societies in which they live.”
For the next three years, the renewed partnership aims to reach 335,000 adolescents in six countries – Indonesia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Nepal, the Philippines and Zambia –enabling them to develop into socially and financially empowered adults and full members of society.
Behind these figures are the individual stories of teachers and children like Mohamed, a young Ethiopian man who herded goats until he was 11 years old and was given the opportunity to be one of the first children to enrol in an ING-supported Alternative Basic Education Centre. “The school building was made of sticks and we shared one book between five students and were sitting on rocks,” said Mohamed, who is now 19 years old, remembering his first experiences at school.“So much has changed since then! Right now, the children in my community have their classes in a real school building; they have tables and chairs and every child has a textbook. Most importantly, parents really understand now why children should go to school.”
In 2005, UNICEF faced a challenge in providing basic education for pastoralist children in Ethiopia. Young pastoralists, who make up a significant part of Ethiopia’s population of children, grow up in areas far from primary schools. But with ING’s support, UNICEF and its partners initiated a new concept called Alternative Basic Education Centres (ABEC) to provide education for these children – an approach that turned out to be the first step towards a new, successful education model.
These alternative learning centres introduced education into the pastoralist lifestyle so that the school calendar and the time schedule were adapted to the daily chores of the children who take care of the livestock. This approach turned out to be so successful that, over the years, 458 centres have been built in Afar, Somali, SNNPR and Oromia regions of Ethiopia.
Furthermore, the government raised the standard of these alternative schools to meet that of regular primary schools. As a result, many of the schools have now been formalised or will be formalised in the future; teachers receive professional training and pastoralist children can continue their education in formal secondary school.