Didn’t we all enjoy the press conference of the young Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai?! She took this opportunity to tell the world with great persuasiveness to give girls and women an equal chance to a good education. She cleverly included boys and men, bridging a possible gap of controversy.
She heard the news of her prize at school at 10 o’clock in the morning. It was remarkable that she chose to continue attending her lessons that day as usual, before addressing the world press.
Malala risked her life in Pakistan by going to school and demanding her right to an education in the face of the ultra-conservative extremists’ violence. Now that she is attending school safely in Birmingham (UK), she won’t be deprived of any lessons.
She is an inspiration for anyone committed to better chances of an education for boys and girls all over the world. She also inspires the Kapatiran Board and volunteers in their efforts for underprivileged children in the Philippines. Kapatiran has supported hundreds of families sending their children to elementary school for almost 15 years now. The support consists of a financial contribution towards school fees and requirements. Just as important is the role of our local co-ordinators, who monitor the beneficiaries’ progress and arrange meetings with child and parents and/or teacher when there is a problem. Kapatiran’s support is very important for the children’s motivation as well: they are proud to be a Kapatiran scholar, it gives them this extra incentive to (continue to) do their best.
Recently, the Kapatiran board chose me as their chairman. I take over the baton from my predecessor Wim Vermeiden, who led Kapatiran for 11 years with a combination of passion and common sense.
In spite of the attention the media are paying to equal chances on education for everyone, it has grown increasingly hard over the last few years for organisations like Kapatiran to raise funds. Public opinion has it that people are tired of donating: the feeling is that developments are too slow and that funds are often not spent properly.
For the third year in a row I am staying in the Philippines for a number of months, thus having the opportunity to visit some Kapatiran projects. Other board members do the same when they are in the Philippines visiting family or friends. We can assure you that the direct, small- scale and personal approach of Kapatiran’s Basic Literacy Program works. The importance of elementary education needs no argument: if you cannot read, write, do sums, and have no basic knowledge of how society works, your existence is bound to be marginal and exploitation lies in wait.
Kapatiran feels strengthened and inspired by the worldwide recognition of Malala and we will continue to do our utmost to provide children in the Philippines with the education they deserve.
We hope we can count on your continued support for this in the future.