MDGS and Children
At the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, 189 Heads of State and Governments pledged to work together to make a better world for all by 2015. On behalf of their people, they signed the Millennium Declaration which promises to free men, women and children from the dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, and make the right to development a reality for everyone. Eight Millennium Development Goals were adopted, committing rich and poor countries to work together in a global partnership to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, ensure that all boys and girls complete primary school, promote gender equality, improve the health of mothers and children, reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, and protect the environment, all by 2015.
Children are the real future decision-makers of local and national governance. They confront and identify problems where adults may miss an opportunity to see them. Therefore, one main target group of the MDGs are children. United Nations Agencies have put considerable effort into mobilizing their resources and achieving effective results in strengthening the health and life conditions of children aged 7 to 14 years. In Uzbekistan, children help to disseminate information on the Millennium Development Goals through various initiatives and activities, while encouraging their peers to do the same. A MDGs campaign targeting children has aimed to raise awareness of Millennium Development Goals, while implementing outreach activities at country and regional levels.
Since 2004, 540 students from twelve schools in six regions, all between ages 7 and 17, took part in the Millennium Development Goals Poster Competition organized jointly by the Ministry of Public Education and the UN System in Uzbekistan. A local NGO helped to coordinate the competition between schools, and brought the MDG messages to children and teachers. During the various stages of the competition, the UN system coordinated numerous presentations and training opportunities.
Along with the poster design competition, the UN CT also supported two MDG theatre events. In October 2004, the students and young teachers of the University of Foreign Languages in Samarkand and Bukhara staged the amateur, non-professional theatre piece ‘Pinocchio’ in Uzbekistan’s capital of Tashkent.
The event was linked to the poster competition award ceremony, bringing together 500 children, along with adults, teachers and parents, to view a modern version of the fairy tale in the Uzbek language. During the event the children explored the links between the tale and some of the MDGs, by means of a ‘MDG game’ played on stage with the actors.
The MDG campaign involving schoolchildren began to widen in 2006, when the MDG Youth Network Student Volunteers delivered learning sessions on Millennium Development Goals for UNESCO Summer Camp participants from different Uzbekistan regions. Another significant achievement was the launching of the book ‘Adventures in the MDG world’ to school-children from the‘Istiqbol’Gymnasium, located in the town of Margilan in the Ferghana oblast.
Adventures in the MDG world
Targeting children through storybooks is yet another example of an effective public awareness campaign. The MDG story book ‘Adventures in the MDG world’ targets children aged 10 to 15 years old, and aims to introduce the seven MDGs through the popular national character Khoja Nasreddin. Khoja Nasreddin is a widely known joker, a folklore character who comes from the XXIII century and makes a journey to present day Uzbekistan. He experiences life in cities and rural areas, and asks his new friends many puzzling questions concerning education, diseases, the dried out Aral Sea and other topics. During his travels he gives advice to young people. Mainly this book describes the Millennium Development Goals, and helps children identify what they can do to maketheir lives better and safer.
The story book provides some questions and tasks for children to complete, thus encouraging them to reflect on their everyday lives. Not only does the book contain some interesting stories, but it also suggests some interactive games. A young reader will answer questions like ‘how can you be trained for a future profession now?’, ‘what can be done to promote the rights of girls and boys in education?’, and ‘why do kids need inoculations in their early lives?’
A student at the ‘Istoqbol’ gymnasium in Margilan offered his opinion of the book. "I liked this book very much; it gave me a better understanding of what our world and what we should do to make my life more interesting and better. I realized how essential it is to get education not only in subjects taught in our schools, but also about health, infectious diseases and how I can prevent myself from them.”
Moreover, the book also provides children with opportunities to organize award ceremonies, and make postcards depicting each Millennium Development Goal.