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The Cathal Ryan Trust invests $14 million in UNICEF programmes focusing on education


NEW YORK/DUBLIN, – UNICEF announced today that The Cathal Ryan Trust will contribute $14 million to help some of the most vulnerable children in Sri Lanka.

Globally, if the 2015 MDG targets of universal primary education and gender equality are to be met, it is critical now, more than ever, to step up commitments and invest wisely in education interventions.

The two-year partnership with the Trust, based in Ireland, will support a range of integrated education and health initiatives in the South Asian island nation. The Trust was founded in memory of the late Cathal Ryan, a highly successful Irish businessman who spent time in Sri Lanka in the late 1970’s.

“Creating more enhanced learning opportunities for the most disadvantaged children brings the world closer to achieving our goal of education for all,” said Saad Houry, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “By investing in the best possible education for all boys and girls, the corporate and philanthropic community is being strategic about the return on its investment.”

This is the Trust’s first partnership with an international development agency and is being carried out in collaboration with UNICEF Ireland.

“Working in partnership with organisations like UNICEF allows access, personal protection, detailed expertise in each area, financial protection and the ability to communicate with the government to work alongside our vision,” said Danielle Ryan, representative of The Cathal Ryan Trust. “It is going to allow us to do more than we expected in a shorter amount of time.”

Since the conflict ended in 2009, UNICEF has been working to reach some of the hardest hit communities in Sri Lanka’s north, which were also badly affected earlier by the 2004 Tsunami. These communities are still struggling to obtain access to basic education, adequate health services, clean water and sanitation.

The Trust’s resources will help build ‘child-friendly’ schools in Sri Lanka for approximately 6,000 children. Learning kits and books will be provided for students. Each school will be built to ‘child-friendly’ specifications that provide safe, healthy and protective educational environments where children and their rights are protected with trained teachers and separate toilets for girls and boys.

The Trust will also enable the rehabilitation of healthcare facilities benefitting approximately 25,000 children under the age of five, 5,000 pregnant women and 5,000 lactating women.

The announcement was made at a high-level event on philanthropy and education, “Partnering with the philanthropic community to promote education for all,” celebrated at the General Assembly Hall in the United Nations.

UNICEF has a long history of partnering with the business and philanthropic community to promote the right to education. Schools for Africa, a partnership between UNICEF, Nelson Mandela Foundation, and the Hamburg Society for the promotion of Democracy and International Law has helped provide quality education for five million children in Africa.

The ECOSOC event saw the participation of the ING Group which, through its employees worldwide, has also mobilized millions of dollars and staff time for UNICEF education and emergency programmes in Brazil, Ethiopia, India and Zambia through its “Chances for Children” programme.

Listen to a special UNICEF radio Beyond School Books podcast on the role of philanthropy in promoting education for all featuring Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of The Earth Institute, Columbia University and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

UNICEF Ireland - Founded in 1962, UNICEF Ireland is one of 36 UNICEF National Committees that support UNICEF’s global mandate for children through fundraising, advocacy and education in Ireland. For more information, visit


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