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Speech by Kailash Satyarthi on the launch of HLP

Johannesburg, May 20th,2011

I am honoured to follow these two inspirational figures. On behalf of GCE ,I welcome their new commitment to convene the High Level Panel.

One out six people on our planet is still deprived of an education. This is the biggest scandal of our times. Illiteracy is the biggest Ongoing Apartheid.

The fact that a five year child in France or Britain has more chances in getting into college than a child in Africa has of completing primary school, shames us all.

Education is the key to ending poverty- for both families and countries. Financial and growth benefits to investing in education are overwhelming. Gordon’s report brings even stronger evidence to this argument.

Education is the great liberator from injustices and inequality that occur within so many countries.

But we also need to take these evidences to the key decision makers. This will be the key work of the Panel that we have set up today.

No politician disagrees that we should get all children into school. Moral argument is clear. But most world leaders fail the children. What is missing is the political will. What is missing is a new global momentum to promote the right to education. I hope this panel will help addressing such challenges.

We need pencils and books in the hand of our children, not tools and guns. We need our children in classrooms, not at work.

We have seen some impressive progress on health in recent years, due to leaders in business and civil society galvanizing global action. If we have to bring about an end to poverty, and if we are serious about tackling inequality, then we need to see the same action on education.

The G-8 and G-20 leaders have kept the agenda off for to long, we expect the panel will play an important role in bringing it on track.

I also appeal South Africa to play a pivotal role in moving the agenda forward in its role as co-chair of G-20 development committee.

I am delighted that Graca and Gordon have agreed to co-convene this panel and we are looking forward in working with them.

Kailash Satyarthi... the seeker of truth
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