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Annan supports attempt to set world record for largest educational lesson

Annan supports attempt to set world record for largest educational lesson

Children participate in lesson at UN Headquarters
In solidarity with people from more than 100 countries who attempted to break the world record for the largest simultaneous educational lesson, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said educating girls is the most effective tool for development.

"We come to this lesson well-prepared. Study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls," Mr. Annan said in a message issued in New York. "If we are to succeed in our efforts to build a more healthy, peaceful and equitable world, the classrooms of the world have to be full of girls as well as boys."

Mr. Annan's message was for the "World's Biggest Lesson," a record attempt organized across the globe by the Global Campaign for Education - a worldwide alliance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and trade unions working for the achievement of universal basic education. The current record for the largest lesson, according to the Guinness Book of Records, was set in March last year when 28,801 children took part in a language class in the United Kingdom.

Also in support of the record attempt, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) brought together hundreds of children and adults in New York who participated in the simultaneous lesson, which coincides with the 2003 Global Week of Action for education, which is celebrated from 6 to 13 April.

During this year's education week, communities, children and organizations worldwide will rally to raise awareness of the millions of girls and women who are still being denied the right to go to school, UNICEF said. This ties in well with the UN agency's own efforts to increase the number of girls in school over the next two years.

UNICEF's Special Representative and world music star, Angelique Kidjo, taught the 30-minute lesson, which focused on the value and urgency of girls' education. Joining her was Nane Annan, wife of the Secretary-General, and UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy.