NBA star and UN ambassador stresses right to schooling in native Argentina

11 August 2009

National Basketball Association (NBA) star Manu Ginóbili stressed the right of all children to complete their elementary and secondary studies during a recent visit to a school in the impoverished Argentine province of Chaco in his role as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

National Basketball Association (NBA) star Manu Ginóbili stressed the right of all children to complete their elementary and secondary studies during a recent visit to a school in the impoverished Argentine province of Chaco in his role as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Mr. Ginóbili, a native of Argentina, made the visit to the school in Fontana on the eve of the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, observed on 9 August. Fontana is home to a sizeable population belonging to the indigenous group known as Qom.

According to UNICEF, education is a challenge for Qom students since they begin school without knowledge of the Spanish language and during their education they receive no instruction in their mother tongue.

“When it comes to Qom students, our efforts must be doubled to make sure that we help fulfil their right not just to an education, but to quality bilingual education as well,” said UNICEF Representative in Argentina Andres Franco.

During his visit to the school, Mr. Ginóbili took part in a language class with the children and emphasized the importance of sport as a powerful tool for child development.

“I am delighted to share this time with the children and to talk about the importance of sport as a way to bridge between studies and fun and in increasing the likelihood that children will remain in school,” he said.

The three-time NBA champion also visited the Centre for the Promotion of Rights, where he heard from Qom women about the importance of having a space where they could learn new skills and gain knowledge about their rights.

Mr. Ginóbili also took the time in Fontana to highlight the “Cities for Education” initiative, which promotes the right of all children and adolescents to complete their elementary and secondary studies.

Supported by UNICEF, provincial and local authorities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the initiative will reach out to thousands of students in Chaco province from preschool to adult night school, as well as all school administrators and teachers.

The initiative provides training for teachers and school administrators on successful teaching methods including sequence learning, which promotes holistic learning through the use of words and concepts that are familiar to the children. Instead of learning single letters, for instance, the children identify each letter with words and sentences which give meaning to the concepts they are learning.

“Strategies such as sequence learning contribute to the success of the first learning experiences of these children, which, in turn, provides them with the incentive to continue their studies,” Mr. Franco said.

 

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