Each child represents an opportunity for the world
Letter to Friends around the World # 88

In the heart of parents who live every day in conditions of exclusion and severe poverty, lies the hope for a world where each person has their place.

To create a future where suffering and constant deprivation will no longer exist, they devote themselves body and soul to their children's education, to make sure they do not abandon their studies.

Yet often, all that remains from their memories of school is the bitter taste of disappointment and the pain of humiliation. Madame Lenoir still dares not talk to teachers, "because when I arrive they stop talking" she tells us "and when at last they say something, they are always negative about my children." Abdou keeps his head down when his teacher asks him "What does your father do? "Nothing" he answers because he knows that working on the land is looked down upon. David arrived an hour early at the school gates on the first day of term, so impatient to learn. Three months later he was no longer attending school. Meanwhile, Emma continues to go to school, but is scared other children will make fun of her because of the mud that sticks to her shoes when she leaves her neighbourhood.

No child can learn if they have feelings of shame and rejection.

So teachers are rejecting stigmatisation and discrimination and are innovating. Many correspondents in the Forum on Overcoming Extreme Poverty are taking action and working with schools within their communities. Similarly, ATD Fourth World is working to create spaces where meetings and discussions can take place between education professionals and parents who have a difficult life, so that together they can develop the best possible learning environment for their children.

In May, UNESCO organised the World Conference on Education For All in the Sultanate of Oman. The purpose of this meeting was to define a new post-2015 Education For All plan. This event brought together 300 participants, including a large number of ministers, experts and certain representatives of nongovernmental organisations, including the ATD Fourth World Movement. Most of the people attending the conference have been working for years to try to improve access to school for the most excluded children. Proposals were developed for implementation. We discussed them so that our schools can be transformed, foster a culture of cooperation between pupils, and enable parents to be seen as the leading partners to guarantee quality education for all.

Together, we continue to believe that each child represents an opportunity for the world, and that we have a duty to give that child a school where they can learn with confidence.

Isabelle Perrin,

Director General

International Movement ATD Fourth World