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Western Union sets own 'PASS' mark

Company commits US$1.8m to support education programmes over three years

Monday, May 12, 2014    

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GLOBAL money transfer company Western Union has committed some US$1.8 million over three years to support education programmes around the world, including Jamaica.

Here, the entity — through the Western Union Foundation — has partnered with UNICEF and the Junior Achievement Programme to support programmes that aim to achieve higher levels of attendance, retention, and numeracy and literacy among students in Grades one through four at selected all-age, primary and junior high schools. The focus is on boys and will be concentrated in the western end of the island, the company told the Jamaica Observer.

It explained that in the first year of the project (2012/2013), 23 teachers were trained in hands-on delivery methods using improved curricula; 239 parents were sensitised to the importance of their assistance in their children's learning; and 1,100 students completed one semester of the Junior Achievement Programme.

"We're very conscious of the situation for young people, especially in western Jamaica where drop-out rates and learning outcomes for boys are of particular concern. I'm pleased that Western Union can help children in Jamaica and around the world," president of the Western Union Foundation, Patrick Gaston, told the newspaper from his office in Englewood, Colorado.

"Just a single newly trained teacher can impact hundreds of children's education over their career," he continued.

He explained that the funds are generated through the company's three-year sponsorship of the UEFA Europa League in which every successful pass of the ball is converted to cash. The initiative is therefore dubbed PASS.

"Western Union has committed to turning every successful pass made during the 2012/13, current and next season of the competition into funds to support access to a quality education for young people. (We have) pledged to donate a minimum of $1.8 million over three years to support UNICEF's education programmes around the world," Gaston said.

The sponsorship period ends in 2015. To date 303,647 passes have been made.

In the partnership's first year, funds have also been allocated to support UNICEF's education programmes in Nigeria and Turkey. Donations for the second year (2013/2014) are targeted for Brazil, Senegal, Nigeria, Turkey, China and Morocco, and future donations to be considered for projects in Colombia and Romania.

Beneficiary programmes are chosen based on need at the time and opportunity for the greatest impact for young people, and will be defined by UNICEF's education specialists in consultation with Western Union, the company explained.

"UNICEF will also work to strengthen parental and community access to information, and support them to improve their engagement with schools. This type of activity is proven to increase attendance and retention rates. UNICEF does not typically measure impact for children in terms of days of education delivered. However, funding from the Western Union Foundation will enable UNICEF to scale these education interventions and we are confident that with this support Western Union's goal can be achieved," Gaston said.

Deputy representative for UNICEF in Jamaica, Deidre Kiernan, is happy for the partnership.

"We are very excited to partner with Western Union to strengthen children's educational opportunities. Western Union's funding is supporting programes in rural Jamaica that are helping the keep children in the classroom, ensuring that they complete school and can have a brighter future," she said.

Added Andre Largie,country manager for Western Union in Jamaica: "As a Jamaican myself, it means a lot to me that Western Union can help children from my home country and around the world. "

Western Union's PASS initiative is a cause marketing programme supporting Education for Better, a three-year Western Union commitment to help meet the global education goals launched at the UN General Assembly in September 2012. The programme includes advocacy, products, volunteerism and marketing support for secondary and vocational education. It harnesses the power of football to build awareness for the need for greater investment in education around the world and helps deliver on-the-ground educational support that will make a positive difference to young people and their communities. PASS aims to support the delivery of one million days of school over the duration of Western Union's sponsorship of the UEFA Europa League.

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