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April 9, 2008 - Low-income Brazilian communities mobilised to improve the quality of education in schools

BT and UNICEF today announced the launch of a new youth participation project focusing on education and communications for young people from low-income communities in Brazil. BT is providing £500,000 (Brazilian equivalent to be included) to fund this programme.

The programme will support and train Brazilian adolescents on how to use a wide range of communications tools to improve the quality of education in their schools and communities, and to enhance their life decision-making process. 10,000 adolescents across ten schools, in five of Brazil’s largest cities: Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and Fortaleza will benefit from the BT and UNICEF partnership.

In addition, partners from the Brazilian Communication and Participation Network of NGOs will also be involved in this programme and will be responsible for implementing the project in each of the five cities.

The adolescents in Brazil will use communications tools and techniques such as the internet, radio, blogs, photography and video to publicise campaigns to improve their schools and to shape public policies on health services, the environment, digital inclusion and other community issues. Video and blogs could, for example, be used to urge local officials to improve poor water and sanitation facilities.

The project will provide PCs, digital cameras and other equipment in schools. A dedicated web site will also enable the adolescents to publish stories and photographs that illustrate their experiences and share learning with their peers.

UNICEF is advocating with the Brazilian Ministry of Education on this youth participation project, and is actively encouraging the Ministry to roll-out other youth participation projects at schools nationwide.

Luis Alvarez, President EMEA and Latin America, BT Global Services said: “Our partnership with UNICEF creates education environments where children receive the support they need to thrive. Access to information and communications technology can help to foster new skills, in turn enabling them to pass exams, get a job, play an active role in their communities, and achieve their goals in life. BT is committed to making a positive and sustainable difference to the communities in which it operates globally. By working with UNICEF we are helping to develop the skills of young people at a very local level and ultimately improving the futures of children around the world.”

Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Brazil Representative, said: “Brazil faces an enormous challenge in ensuring that children remain in school. Only four out of every ten students who start primary school actually complete secondary education. One of UNICEF’s priorities is to promote youth participation in their communities. To have access to communication tools and to be able to express their views are basic rights of adolescents. Furthermore, a UNICEF survey in 2006 found that adolescents in Brazil who participated in community activities appeared to be less susceptible to dropping out of school, teenage pregnancy and involvement with violence.”

BT’s partnership with UNICEF in Brazil aims to engage adolescents in social issues that affect them, and to help make their school environments more stimulating, in order to reduce high dropout rates. By equipping these adolescents with communication and technology skills, BT and UNICEF will also be helping to strengthen their future job prospects, so that they have a better chance of success in their adult lives.

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About BT
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications solutions and services operating in 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of local, national and international telecommunications services to our customers for use at home, at work and on the move; higher-value broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, Openreach, BT Retail and BT Wholesale. In the year ended 31 March 2007, BT Group plc’s revenue was £20,223 million with profit before taxation of £2,484 million. British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. For more information, visit www.bt.com/aboutbt
UNICEF has been working in Brazil since 1950 in partnership with federal, state and municipal governments, UN agencies, civil society, private sector, the media and international organizations to advocate and promote the rights of Brazilian children. UNICEF’s work in Brazil focuses on the rights of each and every child: to survive and develop, to learn, to be protected and protect themselves from HIV/AIDS, to grow up free from violence, and to be first in public policies. Globally, UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information, please visit www.unicef.org.br and www.unicef.org.uk
For further information about UNICEF
Please contact UNICEF’s Media Relations/Communication Officers in London, Brasília and São Paulo:
Lara Schlotterbeck, Head of Media Relations, Tel: +44 20 7312 7677 or email: laras@unicef.org.uk
Gilberto Nascimento, Communication Officer, UNICEF Brazil, Tel: +55-61-8166-1635 or email: gnascimento@unicef.org
Adriana Alvarenga, Communication Officer, UNICEF Brazil, Tel: +55-11-5904-6681 or email: aalvarenga@unicef.org

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