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Ministers back TES campaign

Education is crucial to rebuilding life inAfghanistan. Through The TES UNICEFappeal UK pupils can help their 1.5 million Afghan counterparts, starved of lessons under the Taliban

The United Kingdom's four education ministers today give their backing to a TES campaign asking pupils to help children in Afghanistan get back to school.

They are urging UK pupils to play an active part in providing an education for 1.5 million children in the war-torn country where many have been denied schooling.

Governments and aid agencies agree that this is one of the key ways of restoring normality to thousands of Afghanistan's children.

The TES campaign, run jointly with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is being led by Professor Ted Wragg of Exeter University. News International, The TES's parent company, is donating pound;30,000 to start the appeal.

Professor Wragg said: "This campaign is a unique attempt to harness the energy and immense goodwill of our pupils to raise money for their poor Afghan brothers and sisters. British children, however frisky on a wet afternoon, are the kindest on the planet when it comes to helping someone in need."

Little of the Afghan school system remains with 80 per cent of school buildings severely damaged or destroyed. There are only 20,000 trained teachers instead of the estimated 60,000 needed. A chronic shortage of textbooks, pencils and paper is exacerbating the problem.

Estelle Morris, the Education Secretary, said: "One of the consequences of the long years of turmoil in Afghanistan is that a whole generation of young people, particularly girls, have missed out on a basic education.

"As people there rebuild their country and their lives, schools will play a central role and investing in the children of Afghanistan is one of the best ways we can help people as individuals and as a nation. That's why I support The TES and UniceF's campaign to give every primary school child the tools they need to improve their life chances."

Jane Davidson, her counterpart in Wales, Martin McGuinness in Northern Ireland and Cathy Jamieson in Scotland also gave their support. The leaders of teacher and headteacher unions have also promised to back the campaign.

Week by week we will be putting forward fund-raising ideas for schools to follow. The first, outlined this week in our special Afghanistan pull-out, involves making a kite, the symbol of joy and liberation for Afghan children.

We will also be providing teaching ideas to help schools raise awareness about Afghanistan and encourage pupils to become active global citizens.

The TES campaign "Children Helping Children" will run until the end of summer term taking the issues directly into UK classrooms. We will work with UNICEF to provide:

* specially-devised learning kits for 1.5 million pupils

* training and materials for 60,000 primary teachers

* emergency repairs and materials for all primaries

* support to revive the Afghan education service.

This is the first time The TES has mounted a combined education and fundraising campaign. All the money will be channelled through UNICEF.

Bob Doe, TES editor, said: "There is a huge effort going into getting children back in schools and we urge every school in the UK to help. There are some very concrete, identifiable things that pupils can help with: pound;7 will provide an Afghan pupil with specially commissioned books; pound;20 will retrain a class teacher."

Through UNICEF the appeal will raise funds for catch-up classes for girls who missed education, adult literacy and counselling for traumatised children.

David Bull, executive director of UNICEF, said: " We invite you to join this journey and help children towards a better future."

The campaign also has the backing of Nane Annan, wife of UN secretary general Kofi Annan, Glenys Kinnock MEP and former war correspondent and MP Martin Bell.

Coverage will be complemented by weekly materials and teaching ideas in the paper and on the website (www.tes.co.ukafghanistan). Tell us what your school is doing on afghanappeal@tes.co.uk For more information and how you can involve your school, see our four-page pullout in the centre of The TES Leader, 22

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