Giggsy's goal is education for Afghan children

As celebrities and union leaders join up in support of The TESUnicef appeal to encourage UK pupils to help Afghan

MANCHESTER United footballer Ryan Giggs and Jemima Khan are backing The TES campaign to get children in Afghanistan back into school.

They have joined the United Kingdom's four education ministers in supporting schools' efforts to raise vital funds for 1.5 million Afghan children in a country which has been devastated by war.

The campaign, run jointly with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), is backed by teacher union leaders as well as MEP Glenys Kinnock and Martin Bell, the former "MP in a white suit" and war correspondent.

It hopes to bring stability back into the lives of the children by repairing schools and providing equipment to restore their basic right to an education. Giggs urges all teachers and pupils to back the campaign.

"I think the Children Helping Children Appeal can make a huge difference in getting children in Afghanistan back to school.

"I know how important it is for children around the world to get an education, and this is even more true for the children in Afghanistan who haven't had the same chance that youngsters here have had."

The Afghan school year starts later this month. For thousands of girls it will be the first opportunity in six years to go to school. Under the Taliban regime, girls were denied an education and women teachers were forbidden to teach.

Many women braved great danger by teaching girls in secret and Nane Annan, the wife of UN secretary general Kofi Annan, said: "I have heard the most heartrending stories of how UNICEF was able to support the home-schooling of girls during the Taliban era.

"The thirst for education was so huge that teachers would disregard the tremendous risks involved. Now that the possibilities are there, how can we stand idly by as children are flocking to schools?"

Jemima Khan, UK special representative for UNICEF, has visited Afghanistan and spoke of her horror at seeing thousands of refugee children "barefoot and in rags still drenched from the night's rain".

She said: "At an age when most children's concerns are which toys to play with and homework, children in Afghanistan have lost any sense of what it means to be a child."

Mr Bell said "the good thing about this campaign is the way it will help our own children make sense of the world and become responsible caring citizens."

Cover story and Ted Wragg, Friday magazine, 31 For teaching materials:www.tes.co.ukafghanistan

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