Opening remarks by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma at the Heads of State and Government 2010 Soccer World Cup Education Campaign Summit
11 July 2010Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government;
African Union representative, His Excellency President Ali Ondimba Bongo, of the Republic of Gabon,
Former Heads of States and other Eminent Persons present,
UNESCO Director General
Dr Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee and delegation,
FIFA President Sepp Blatter;
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers;
1Goal co-chairperson Archbishop Desmond Tutu and all representatives,
Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena and African Football legends,
Miss South Africa, Nicole Flint,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Good afternoon and a warm welcome to you all at this important 2010 Soccer World Cup Education Summit.
We are happy to welcome you all, on this historic day of the final match in the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup tournament.
We convened this Summit because of our strongly held view that the first Soccer World Cup tournament on African soil should have a lasting legacy.
The most important investment in the future of any nation is in education. No legacy could be higher than that.
We today seek to reaffirm the political commitments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All goals by 2015.
This Summit occurs ahead of other major events which are coming up this year. These include the G20 Summit in South Korea in November and the Millennium Development Goals High Level Plenary Meeting in New York from September 20 to 22.
These should also be used to take the mission of this Summit forward.
You will recall Excellencies, that the international community has adopted two main goals in the field of education.
We have the Millennium Development Goal Two, to achieve universal primary education and the Education for All initiative, to bring the benefits of education to every citizen in every society.
We are today using the power of football to promote the achievement of these goals because the status quo in education, especially in Africa, is cause for concern.
Over the past ten years the international community has registered significant strides regarding access to and gender equality in primary school education, with 42 million additional children enrolling in school.
However, there are approximately 72 million children, almost half of whom are in Africa, who are not attending school. In addition, more than 700 million adults across the world do not have basic literacy skills.
Based on these figures, it is unlikely that the Education for All Goals, including universal primary education and gender equality in education, would be reached by 2015.
As Heads of State and Government, we have to renew our commitment to advance the MDGs relating to education.
The forthcoming United Nations MDG meeting in September and the possible delay in delivering on the MDGs by 2015, must encourage all of us present here to redouble our efforts to ensure we do not prolong the suffering of those most affected.
There is a lot that we need to do as governments to make this happen. Solutions will vary from country to country. However there are some basics that we can look at in the developing world especially in Africa.
These include ensuring that school fees and uniforms do not become a barrier to education. We have to fund feeding schemes to ensure that children are physically ready to study.
We have to strengthen ties with community and non-governmental organizations, the religious sector and others to help us reach children in remote areas who are not attending school.
We must commit to improve learning and teaching by investing in the training and employment of more teachers.
We must invest in programmes that ensure that children do not drop out prematurely from school.
We must invest in early childhood development and education. Adult education is also a necessary pillar.
We are happy to welcome development partners from the North in this largely African Summit. You will recall that in the year 2000 G8 Summit in Japan, G8 countries began an outreach dialogue with African leaders.
Among the many benefits, the outreach dialogue allowed for the constant exchange of ideas around our shared responsibilities in development.
In subsequent summits leading to Canada last month, commitments to ensuring the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals have been captured in various declarations.
It is only fitting then that in 2010, on the margins of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we call on the developed world to partner us in the implementation of those undertakings.
Today we also commend the 1 Goal Education for All Campaign initiative, as a legacy of this World Cup. Organisers have run an intensive worldwide campaign to popularize access to education.
The international response has been overwhelming, from political leaders, football stars, musicians, actors and other prominent personalities around the world. This has demonstrated the power of mass mobilization for a good cause.
We congratulate all throughout the world who have been part of this campaign. We urge you to continue leading us to the next World Cup in Brazil.
Esteemed guests, in this Summit we look forward to hearing the perspective of FIFA, the African Union, the United Nations family, the donor community, 1goal initiative and other key partners in this projects today, we thank you all for coming.
Working together we can make education a lasting legacy of this World Cup.
I thank you!