The Archbishop of York launched the "Education For All" initiative during a session of the UN's emergency summit on Millennium Development Goals yesterday.
Speaking in New York alongside Gordon Brown and Former US President Bill Clinton, Dr. Sentamu said: "We are half way to the 2015 MDG targets and yet 75 million children remain out of school completely. Twice as many, mostly girls, go for a short while but then drop out. We may think we are making progress on education but the facts are that too many children around the world are receiving inadequate education and in many cases, no education at all....This is a scandal for many reasons. If we do not educate our children, what hope can there be for the future? But it is also a scandal because it shows just how wrong our priorities have become."
The "Education For All" initiative is part of the Global Campaign for Education which seeks to provide free, compulsory public education, and to meet the third of the Millennium Development Goals: universal primary education.
Highlighting the urgent need for action the Archbishop said: "As citizens, and as children of God, we need to build a society where each individual can flourish and become the whole person they were created to be. Education is part of that transformative process for us to become fully human. ...Education is about finding out who we are, where we belong, and what the purpose of our lives is. It is not just about acquiring knowledge and skills – the root of 'education' is 'educare' which means to 'draw out'. We need to draw out from every person in every country, the gifts and potential they possess. As Christians, as educators, as human beings, our calling is to help others to attain their full humanity – not to beat them in the race but to share with them the prize."
Dr. Sentamu also highlighted the work of the Edith Jackson Trust, one of the charities for which he is patron, and of their work to build primary schools in Southern Sudan:
"Southern Sudan has the lowest access to education than any other country in the world, with only 20% of children enrolling at primary school and less than 2% completing primary education. For girls, this figure is less than 1%. As a result 92% of southern Sudanese women and 80% of men are illiterate....Girls in southern Sudan are more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than complete primary education.
"Today we need to remember that we who have received the benefits of education have a responsibility to those who went before and those who come after us. That responsibility is to pass on the learning and discernment and wisdom, and to ensure all children are able to receive the benefits of that education."