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TODAY: World’s Oldest Student Takes New York; Will Deliver Epic Message to UN


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85 year-old Kimani Ng’ang’a, the world’s oldest elementary school student, has travelled from his small village in Kenya to tell the United Nations to send the world’s poorest children to school. Tomorrow, he will take an emblematic field trip through the Big Apple, accompanied by a mountainous selection from some five million cut-out dolls which were created by children around the world.

The kids call them “buddies.” Each carries a message to educate the 100 million-plus children worldwide who cannot afford to attend school. Says Mr. Ng’ang’a, whose life will be featured in an upcoming film by the makers of Hotel Rwanda, “it’s my life dream to make sure nobody has to wait as long as I did to receive an education. It’s a basic human right.”

Events will begin at 10AM Sept. 13 within New York City’s Battery Park, where the “buddies” will be loaded onto a yellow school bus by Kumi Naidoo, Chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. From there, they will make several stops throughout the city, carrying along with them their crucial message.

At 4:00PM, the bus will make its final stop across from the United Nations at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, where Mrs. Nane Annan, wife of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, will receive a virtual shower of buddies. Says David Archer, Head of Education for the international anti-poverty agency, ActionAid International, “We’re doing this because the denial of basic education leads to over 1 million unnecessary child and maternal deaths a year. Moreover, children who have never seen the inside of a classroom are precisely those that face the most acute poverty, and should be the prime target of the international community if it is at all serious about realizing the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals of halving extreme poverty by 2015.”

The Millennium Development Goals, as of now, are considered off-track. The target of the only Millennium Development Goal for the year 2005 was to enrol an equal number of girls and boys worldwide into school, yet as of today, two-thirds of the children who have never been to school are girls. The glaring failure to meet this goal is at risk of being ignored later this week at the UN review summit. “This goal just can’t be ignored,” said Mr. Ng’ang’a. “Lives are at stake.”


Photo Editors: High-resolution photos will be available after the conclusion of the day’s events at

Broadcast-quality b-roll can be provided upon request.

The full schedule of the day’s events, and additional information about the UN World Summit and the Millennium Development Goals, can also be found at

For further information contact:

Deborah Tompkins, 202-341-1765 or

Sandy Krawitz, 202-492-7207 or sandy.krawitz(at)

Pictures: Laurence Watts, +44 20 7561 7561 or

Policy: Lucia Fry, +44 7976 908006 or lucia(at)


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