Paralympians join MPs to launch new education report

Paralympians and Send My Friend Young Ambassadors at the Houses of Parliament.
Inspirational Paralympians Ade Adepitan, Sarah Storey and Anne Wafula-Strike spoke to a packed room today in the Houses of Parliament at an event launching a new report from the Global Campaign for Education.

They were highlighting the need for all children worldwide, including marginalised and disabled children, to have access to a quality education.

In 2000 world leaders promised quality primary education for every child in the world by 2015, but with just 3 years to go there are still over 60 million children missing out on even a basic primary education.

The athletes were joined by the Young Ambassadors for the Global Campaign for Education, Eilidh Naismith and Billy Davidson from Glasgow, both 16. They represented the thousands of UK school pupils who took part in this year’s Olympic-inspired Send My Friend to School activities, asking world leaders to ‘Go for Gold’ to make sure every child gets into school by 2015.

Ade Adepitan, wheelchair basketball star and co-presenter of Channel 4’s London 2012 Paralympic Games coverage said: “I was born in Nigeria and find it quite alarming that there are now 10.5 million children in Nigeria alone who don’t go to school. Every child deserves the right to have an education and a decent future. And the challenges are even harder for disabled children… many of them are destined to a life of destitution and poverty.”

Sarah Storey, multiple gold medal winner at the Paralympic Games said: “The circumstances of your life melt away in a sports arena and regardless of gender, wealth, disability or culture, sport can be enjoyed worldwide. The legacy of this inclusive Games is something we all need to build on and not just in a sporting context.”

Every child deserves the right to have an education and a decent future. And the challenges are even harder for disabled children…

The final word came from Anne Wafula-Strike, the first ever wheelchair racer from East Africa to compete in the Paralympic games: “Growing up in Africa with a disability is very hard. And being female too is even harder…. Education is the key that opens doors…we must go out and speak out.”

The new report Equity and Inclusion For All in Education advocates that the UK government urgently review its policies and starts meeting the needs of the children who may be left out, including disabled people, ethnic and religious minorities, girls and people living in vulnerable locations. Otherwise progress on reaching the goal of universal primary education by 2015 will stall.

Photos: Mark Chilvers/GCE