Primary Education and Gender Key Concerns for Reading Association
NEWARK, Del., Sept. 14 -- The International Reading Association (IRA), joined by more than 150 individuals and organizations, urged U.N. Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan to address gender equality and the empowerment of women for each of the eight Millennium Development Goals.
“The education of women and girls is at the root of strong societies,” Alan E. Farstrup, executive director of IRA, noted. “Educated women are empowered to ensure their children get the best education and medical care. They understand the value of good nutrition and lifestyles that provide physical, mental, and emotional health. Education for all citizens is the surest defense against crushing epidemics such as sexual exploitation and trafficking, child labor, and AIDS.”
Despite troubling reports about the number of children -- and girls in particular -- not in school, IRA acknowledged progress since the 1990s. IRA commended the sensitivity of its affiliates in Macedonia, Pakistan, Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, Bangladesh, and Tanzania in promoting universal education.
Following is the text of the letter sent to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
September 12, 2005
As the UN meets in September 2005 to evaluate progress on the Millennium Development Goals, we recognize that much has been accomplished toward promoting high quality, universal education and gender parity. We commend your efforts. But we believe much more needs to be done -- especially with regard to equal educational access for women. We urge you to specifically address gender equality and the empowerment of women in all task forces for each of the eight Millennium Development Goals.
The education of women and girls is at the root of strong societies. Educated women are empowered to ensure their children get the best education and medical care. They understand the value of good nutrition and lifestyles that provide physical, mental, and emotional health. Education for all citizens is our surest defense against crushing epidemics such as sexual exploitation and trafficking, child labor, and AIDS.
Across the globe 115 million school-aged children are not in school. The problem is acute in war-torn countries. According to the Institute of Development Studies, over half of the more than 200 million children and young people who have not completed primary school live in regions devastated by armed conflict. Girls face even greater obstacles. According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2005, we have seen some success in girls’ education since 1990, but it has been insufficient, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where 32 percent of girls 7–18 years old have never attended school.
The International Reading Association -- and the many individuals and organizations who signed this letter -- are using their influence and resources to promote the UN’s goals of achieving universal primary education and gender equality. As an example, IRA’s affiliates in Macedonia, Pakistan, Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, Bangladesh, and Tanzania work with the local communities to promote universal education while understanding the sensitivities of local customs and cultures. When Kenya, in 2003, introduced universal free primary education the number of girls in school vastly increased in that country. Such government action shows progress can be made.
The International Reading Association -- and the undersigned on page two -- urge you, with our ongoing support, to improve the fate of all nations by continuing to make universal primary education and gender parity essential UN Millennium Development Goals. The UN’s efforts are needed now more than ever to finish a job well-started. Again, we urge you to specifically address gender equality and the empowerment of women in all task forces for each of the eight Millennium Development Goals.
Alan E. Farstrup
International Reading Association
800 Barksdale Road
Newark, DE 19714
Alaska State Literacy Association; Association of American Publishers; Black Hills State University Reading Council; Board of the Bay-Arenac Counties Reading Council; CCIRA; CEC; Center for Applied Linguistics; Central Massachusetts Reading Council; Center for Literacy, College of Education, The University of Akron; Children’s Literacy Initiative; Coalition of Reading and English Supervisors of Texas; Creative Associates International; Duplin County Reading Association; Erie Reading Council; Falls Church City Public Schools; Metro Detroit Reading Council; MSRC; National Alliance of Black School Educators; National Association of Secondary School Principals; National Community Education Association; National Council of Teachers of English; National Council of Teachers of Math; National Education Association; National Headstart Association; National Science Teachers Association; New Mexico Council International Reading Association; Ohio Council of the International Reading Association; Oklahoma Reading Association; Pioneer Valley Reading Association of Massachusetts; Washington Reading Council; Wisconsin State Reading Association; Woman’s Edge Coalition; Washington Organization for Reading Development.
Janet Adams, Iowa Reading Association; Joseph Aguerrebere, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; Richard Allington, President, International Reading Association; Peggy M. Altoff, National Council for the Social Studies; Chuck Amorosino, TESOL; Patricia Anders, University of Arizona; Aisha Armstrong; Robert Arnove, Indiana State University; Kathryn Au, University of Hawaii; Allison Baer, Western Michigan University; Margie Bell; Pamela Bell-Smith, CSRA RESA; Joanne Brewer; Marsha Riddell Buly; Oweita Calvert; Bonnie Campbell Hill; Judy Casey, CCIRA; Cheryl Chevalier; Margaret Chow; Ann Chrestman, New Mexico International Reading Association; Stan Cianfarano, New York State Reading Association; Tanna Clark; Kim Collier, Eric Cooper, National Urban Alliance; Becky Danello, Stafford County Public Schools; Cathy Davis, CREST; Susan Davis, Representatative, US Congress (D-CA); Barbara D’Emilio; Barbara DeSerres; Brett Dillingham; Nell Downs Shirley Duffy; Helene Dvorkin; Jennie Eddy, Oklahoma Reading Association; Mike Ellerman; Shirley Ernst; Donna Ewigleben; Robert Ewigleben; Kathleen Froriep, Ocean County Reading Council of IRA; Patricia George, Past President, Alaska State Literacy Association; Janis Gibson, Past President, Arkansas Reading Association; Deanna Gilmore; Margaret Goodman, World Learning; Vincent Greaney; Susan Griffin; Priscilla Griffith; Susan Grimm McCoy; Tanetha Grosland; Jerry Guay, Montana State Reading Council; Gloria Guba; Noel Gunther; Karin Halpin, President ASLA; Marjorie Hancock, Kansas State University; Jane Hansen; Ellis Hardison; Linda Hardison; Kristin Harris; Kathleen Hayes, RI State Coordinator; Ann B. Heller; Jeffrey Holland; Margaret Janz; Deborah A. Jensen, Hunter College, CUNY; Peggy M. Johnsen, Whitworth College; Kathy Jongsma, Zayed University; Barbara Kapinus; Linda Katz, Children’s Literacy Initiative; Jean Klein, Legislative Chair, CT Reading Association; Catherine Kurkjian; M. Charito Kruvant, Creative Associates International; Janet Churchman Langlois; Sheryl Leeds; Susan Lenski, IRA Board; Karen Lewis; Marsha Lewis; Jill Lewis, IRA Board; Kathy Liddell, President-elect WSRA; Mary K. Lose; Dan Mangan; Jerrielyn Mapp; Judy Marcantel; Cathleen March; Marcia Mattson; Amy Roth McDuffie; Greg Meece; Lani Messer; Joseph Mika, Wayne State University; Carole Monlux; Judy Morrison, Washington State University Tricities; Lesley Morrow, Past President, IRA; Linda Nell Downs; Evangeline Newton; Ruth Oswald; Richele O’Connor, Wright State University; Donna Ogle, Past President, IRA; Kathleen Operhall; Nani Pai; Jeff Passe; Linda Pavonetti, Oakland University; Jacqueline Peck, Kent State University; Elizabeth Poe; Elizabeth Primas; Steve Quate, CCIRA; Connie Ramsey; Peggy Ramsom; Mary Beth Reese; Janice Richards; Cynthia Rizzo, NMIRA State Coordinator; Cathy Roller; Sharon Romaine; Stephanie Romano; Sherrie Rudick, Teaching Strategies Inc.; Margaret Salt; Katherine Schlick Noe, Seattle University; Patricia Schroeder, Association of American Publishers; Susan Schumann; Sue Seiber; Judith Shank; Andrea Sledge, Central Washington University; Claudia Sobczuk, Past President Washington Organization for Reading Development; Ardis Sparks, President, Washington Organization for Reading Development; Dana Sprenkle, Martha Strachan, Central MA Reading Council; Nikki Tate, Chair, Island Reading Council, IRA; Ann Teberg, Whitworth College; Gayle Theiman; Barbara Tierney; William Tierney; Janet Tinari, New York State Reading Association; Anne Tunney; Sylvia Vardell, Texas Women’s University Evelyn Wall; Toni Walters, Oakland University; Diane Walworth; Dorothy Watson; Valerie Weems-Garber; Bruce Whitehead; Carmelita Williams, Past President, IRA; Sarah Womble; Terrell Young
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