As part of its continued effort to highlight the pressing need for primary education for all, Educate A Child officially launched a new book at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Entitled ‘Challenges & Reality’, the volume contains a new collection of images of out of school children from photojournalist Maher Attar. Educate A Child commissioned the book as a means to bring attention to the world’s children who have not had their right to a primary education fulfilled, despite the promise of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

His Excellency Dr Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage for the State of Qatar, introduced the book on behalf of Education Above All (EAA):

The stirring photo reportage in this new book delves into many of the barriers that children face around the world in accessing a primary education. Through seeing, we can better understand the importance of the work we are doing—and why there is a sense of urgency to maintain focus.’

UNESCO Educate a Child Photography

The book’s launch coincides with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which set the global development agenda for the post-2015 period. Included in the goals is a commitment to finishing the push to provide primary education for all. While progress was made in the latter years of the MDGs, new conflicts and disasters have increased pressure on educational systems in affected and surrounding countries and displaced millions of people, including school-age children. Today, 58 million children worldwide lack access to primary education; more than half of them live in conflict or post-conflict areas. In November, education stakeholders will convene at UNESCO to agree the ‘Framework for Action’ which will serve as the guide for implementation of the new education goal in the SDGs.

EAA CEO Marcio Barbosa said:

The reality is that it will take several years for the policies laid out by the SDGs to take effect on the ground. That’s not soon enough for the millions of refugee and internally displaced children living without an education right now. During this crucial transition period, we must invest in what we know already works, scaling up successful programmes to rapidly reach as many out of school children as possible. That’s the model EAC uses, and it’s effective: since its founding in 2012, EAC has put commitments in place to provide primary education to six million children, including among them one million refugee children.’

The striking collection of photos showcases children attempting to pursue an education in the midst of poverty, conflict and the aftermath of natural disasters. ‘Challenges & Reality’ revisits many of the locations captured in photographer Sebastio Salgado and writer/poet Cristovam Buarque’s groundbreaking book from 2013, ‘The Cradle of Inequality’, showing the progress—or in some cases, the lack thereof—made towards improving education for the world’s poorest and most marginalised children since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000.

HE Dr Al Kuwari said referring to what he hopes readers take away from ‘Challenges & Reality’:

Let these photos remind us why we must act‘Let them be instruments that compel change so that this generation may be the first to realise the goal set out 15 years ago: the goal that every child will be able to fulfil his or her right to education and build a better life because of it.’

See also: