patrick2Global money transfer service, Western Union, has partnered former French national soccer team captain, Patrick Vieira, to lend support to UNICEF’s projects in schools within Dakar, Senegal’s capital city.

Such support included a stop at a UNICEF-supported school, PAH-U7, during a visit to Senegal – his birth place – to lend his support to the Western Union PASS initiative.

The global payment service company is harnessing both its position as a Global Partner of the UEFA Europa League and the power of football to deliver much-needed funding for secondary school education for disadvantaged young people in Senegal, focusing on increasing the transition rate of adolescents from primary school to secondary school.

In collaboration with UNICEF—who is working with partners to deliver education programs in Senegal and other countries—Western Union’s PASS initiative is converting every successful pass during its three-year Global Partner sponsorship of the UEFA Europa League into better education for vulnerable children around the world.

“Our Education for Better program, of which our PASS initiative is a part, recognizes that one of the main reasons our consumers send money is for education”, said Patrick Gaston, President, Western Union Foundation.

“We are proud to support UNICEF, using the power and contribution of football so that children here in Senegal and around the world gain better access to a quality education.”

partrick3Increasing access

In Senegal, great efforts have been made to improve children’s access to school; currently, the enrollment rate for free primary school is 94 percent. However, last year, just 58 percent of children in Senegal enrolled in junior secondary school (grades 7-10), and only 29 percent are enrolled in senior secondary school (grades 11-13).

Secondary school costs, which include registration fees, as well as the cost of uniforms and transportation to and from the classroom, average $300 per year. This represents approximately 20 percent of the average annual family income of $1500.

“Western Union’s PASS funding will increase school access, attendance and completion of junior secondary school for disadvantaged young people in Senegal. It will also help raise awareness to address specific obstacles that prevent thousands of girls from completing their education”, said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Senegal Representative.

Funds from Western Union’s PASS initiative will support the transition of 200 adolescents from primary to secondary education in three targeted regions; Matam, Kedougou and Tambacounda.

With grants of $300 provided to each student per year for two years, pupils will be able to overcome financial barriers that hinder their access to school, covering registration fees and costs including learning materials, uniforms, meals at school and transport to and from school.

Promoting awareness

The Western Union PASS funds will also help UNICEF Senegal promote an awareness campaign targeting approximately 3,000 young girls in the three regions on the importance of junior secondary education and the prevention of early marriage and pregnancy – two obstacles that can stop girls from completing their education. Approximately 35 percent of girls in the most disadvantaged regions are forced into early marriage as a source of revenue for their families.

“I have been proud to support the Western Union PASS initiative since September 2012 and I am really happy to come back again to Senegal to learn more about the initiative and see the impact of UNICEF education programmes,” commented World Cup winner Patrick Vieira, who also has his own Foundation in the country.

Senegal is a young country and providing a quality education for the country’s youth is critical for Senegal’s growth and development, he added.

“This funding is significant because it will help more children stay in school and complete their secondary education, allowing them to reach their potential.”

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The million target

Through the PASS initiative, Western Union aims to support the delivery of one million days of education through its partnership with UNICEF. It is a key part of Western Union’s broader Education for Better program, launched at the UN General Assembly in September 2012, which includes philanthropic grants from the Western Union Foundation, advocacy, products, volunteer and marketing support for secondary and vocational education.

To date, the total number of passes contributing to the PASS campaign stands at 356,564. Funding has already been delivered on the ground to UNICEF in Jamaica, Nigeria and Turkey, with support from Western Union for education programs in Brazil, Senegal, Morocco and China scheduled for this year.

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