Send My Friend to School campaign praised in parliament

1GOAL Send my friend logoThe Send My Friend to School campaign has been taking off in parliament this year and was mentioned in Prime Minister’s Questions, International Development questions, debates and even a parliamentary petition!

Send My Friend is an annual campaign run by the Global Campaign for Education (of which RESULTS is a member) to get schools around the UK to take action to ensure that every child can go to school, no matter where they live in the world. This year the Send My Friend campaign has linked up with 1GOAL to use the power of football to send a strong message to our politicians that the public wants action on this issue.

9,000 schools across the country have signed up to the campaign, holding events such as assemblies and special lessons and sending thousands of ‘supporter scarves’ to Prime Minister David Cameron asking him to commit to the fight to achieve education for all.

And over 80 schools have met their local MPs to ask them to take action. Over the last few weeks we’ve seen this paying off, with many MPs talking about the campaign in Parliament. Pamela Nash MP, who is currently the youngest member of Parliament, asked the following question as her first ever Prime Minister’s Question:

I am sure that the Prime Minister is aware of the send my friend to school campaign, in which my young constituents at Victoria primary school in Airdrie are involved and about which they will be writing to him this week. The campaign aims to ensure that the Government direct the £8.5 billion that was committed by the previous Labour Government towards universal primary education by 2015. The matter will be discussed on 7 July at the education summit in South Africa, which is tied in with the World cup. Has the Prime Minister personally spoken to President Zuma and other African leaders about their pledges, and will he confirm that a review of the Department for International Development’s funding will not compromise our pledge?

Another new MP, Esther McVey, used her maiden speech (the first speech a new MP makes in Parliament) to talk about the campaign:

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech during the debate on global poverty-a debate in which I was inspired to speak after meeting class P of Hayfield primary school in Upton. If I had not spoken today, I am convinced that they would never have forgiven me-so more of class P later…

Class P has signed up to the 1GOAL campaign to help global poverty through education. The campaign is trying to use the profile of the 2010 World cup in South Africa, bringing together footballers and fans of all ages with charities and local and world leaders, to make education a reality for 72 million primary school children worldwide by 2015. I asked class P to explain what poverty meant to them. They said it was about not being able to go to school to learn and make friends, about being sick but not having a doctor and about living in fear. Most of all, poverty is about living with no hope and dying with no one caring. According to UNICEF, 24,000 children die that way each day, and 10.6 million children die before the age of five-that is the same total as all the children of France, Germany, Greece and Italy added together. So today I bring the message of the next generation to the attention of the current generation-beat poverty through education.

Just yesterday John Leech, MP for Manchester Withington presented a ‘supporter scarf’ from a school in his constituency as a parliamentary petition in the House of Commons. He commented:

I would like to submit a petition on behalf of hundreds of the children, parents and friends of Cavendish primary school in West Didsbury in my constituency. They have signed a petition in support of the 1GOAL Send My Friend to School campaign, which calls on world leaders to ensure that all children around the world will have a primary school education by 2015. I suspect that this is the first time that a petition has been submitted on the Floor of the House in the form of a scarf.

News of more school visits by MPs and more parliamentary actions is coming through all the time, so the campaign is looking very exciting at the moment.

In June, RESULTS activists wrote to the Prime Minister David Cameron to support the 1GOAL campaign and to push him to reaffirm the previous government’s spending commitment of £8.5 billion on aid to education between 2006 and 2015. In response we have started to receive letters expressing the Prime Minister’s commitment to education for all and stating that he has personally signed up to the 1GOAL campaign. We’re also hearing that similar letters are making their way to the schools who have taken part in the campaign.

Unfortunately there is nothing in the letters about the funding commitment, or about concrete actions the government is planning to take to support education in the developing world. If you have received this letter and feel that it does not answer the questions you posed in your letter to the Prime Minister, you could respond and ask for a more specific statement of what the government plans to do to meet the challenge of the 1GOAL campaign. Further parliamentary action on this issue is also sure to be forthcoming.

At RESULTS we’re really excited to be part of a campaign where we can see so many different people taking action together for such an important cause!

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