Montblanc CEO Lutz Bethge and actress Hillary Swank have recently travelled to Ethiopia with the mission to witness both the progress achieved to date with the help of funds raised by Montblanc and the challenges still to overcome in the area of education. They were joined by Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Christian Schneider, Executive Director, UNICEF Germany.
Hilary Swank embarked on this journey of discovery to Ethiopia, her first visit to the African country, to lend her support to UNICEF and Montblanc’s shared commitment to give every child the opportunity to learn how to read and write.
The group travelled into the countryside beyond the Ethiopian capital, witnessing the often-difficult living conditions for children in these remote areas. An initial visit to the Dima Guranda Primary School in the Sebeta District, Oromia Region, gave Hilary Swank and Lutz Bethge an opportunity to see how successful the Child-to-Child (CTC) preprimary education has been in providing preschool-aged children with early learning opportunities at very low cost.
Through the hard work of young facilitators, usually older students, CTC has become a winning model to prevent children from dropping out of primary school. While at Mekdella Primary School, Hilary Swank was particularly moved by the “Gender Club”, a school supported activity programme promoting gender equality in education giving girls and boys practical knowledge to overcome inequalities and violence, as well as achieving a better understanding of health, hygiene and environmental issues.
Despite language, social and cultural barriers, education truly unites and empowers. At each stop of this visit, it became increasingly clear that change is underway, with UNICEFʼs efforts making a crucial contribution to breaking the poverty cycle, one step at a time. During the visit it became clear that, education is not just about the bricks and mortar that make a school building.
It is first and foremost about making sure the children in those schools have the trained teachers they need, get access to the necessary learning materials and benefit from the quality of teaching that will enable them to take that education and improve their own lives and their communities. Whether in the bigger classrooms of Addis Ababa or in remote villages where classes are often taught inside a mud hut, inspired teachers equipped with adequate learning tools can transform any child.
Montblanc has supported UNICEF since 2004. Because cultural commitment is an integral part of Montblancʼs brand philosophy, Montblanc wishes to take an active role in the international promotion of education and cultural values. With a heritage deeply rooted in the culture of writing, Montblanc shares UNICEFʼs commitment to ensure all children have access to a proper education to learn how to read and to write.
Montblanc has raised over $5 million dollars for UNICEFʼs education programmes worldwide. The “Sign Up for the Right to Write” and the “Power to Write” global fundraising initiatives were launched in 2004 and 2007 respectively. In 2009, Montblanc renewed its commitment to UNICEFʼs work to build a better future for children through access to quality education funded with proceeds from the “Signature for Good” initiative. This campaign will run again throughout 2013 – parts of the proceeds* raised from the sale of the new “Signature For Good” Collection will go towards vulnerable children supported by the Schools for Africa and School for Asia initiatives, as well as UNICEF education programmes in Latin America.
*Montblanc will donate 10% of the retail price excluding VAT/Sales Tax to support UNICEF’s education programs. UNICEF does not endorse any brand or product. No portion of the purchase price is tax-deductible. For more information visit unicef.org
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