Every Child into School by 2010: 1Goal, the World Cup, and SMS

Posted by PenelopeChester on Jun 29, 2010

Every four years, the world’s biggest sporting event captures the attention of football aficionados. The FIFA World Cup is more than just a soccer competition, though. For host countries such as South Africa, the tournament represents a chance to showcase the nation’s treasures, attract investments, and beguile tourists. For the creators of the 1Goal campaign, the World Cup offers a unique opportunity to develop the organization's largest-ever cause-related campaign. 1Goal, which is backed by FIFA, seeks to get every child into school by 2015. 

1Goal was founded by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), a coalition of more than 100 organizations from over 100 countries that has been coordinating advocacy, research and lobbying activities to end what GCE refers to as “the global education crisis.” The 1Goal campaign also benefits from serious star power, with co-chairs Queen Rania of Jordan, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu lending their weight and global profile to the campaign. 

Education for All

Worldwide, 72 million children are currently not attending school. Since 1999, GCE has been working to hold world leaders to their pledge to make "Education for All" a reality. Alex Kent, head of 1Goal South Africa for GCE, explains that 1Goal represents an opportunity for the organization to ensure that “education is at the forefront of policy-makers’ attention.” 

Specifically, the campaign seeks to make "Education for All" the lasting legacy of the 2010 World Cup by calling for further investments in education and by “working with governments to increase funding so that all children can go to school by the time of the next World Cup in Brazil," according to Samuel Barratt, media director for 1Goal. The campaign is calling on the international community to increase funding for education-related initiatives from $4 billion to $16 billion each year, and is urging developing countries to earmark 20% of their budgets for education. 

Assessing the impact of 1Goal, Kent explains that even though “there is still a long way to go," an additional 40 million children have been enrolled in schools since 2000, which is “very much a result of what has happened at the local level.”

The 1Goal campaign is one of GCE’s largest-ever undertakings. In addition to receiving endorsements from FIFA, the international soccer community and some of the world’s biggest celebrities, 1Goal is also using the power of mobile technology to reach its goal of rallying millions of supporters from around the globe to get behind the cause.  Supporters of the campaign can sign 1Goals platform online, on the mobile site, or via text message.

Recruiting mobile operators

Last October, Queen Rania approached the GSM Association (GSMA), an organization that represents the interests of the worldwide mobile operator industry, to garner support for 1Goal. She addressed GSMA’s board in November in Hong Kong, and spoke at the Mobile World Congress in February. According to Mark Smith, GSMA’s director of communications, getting mobile operators to join 1Goal “was not a hard sell at all.” On the contrary, Smith explains, “operators that have joined saw the opportunity to be a part of what is a remarkable campaign.” 

GSMA’s role in the 1Goal campaign is to coordinate the recruitment of mobile operators, the content and collateral of marketing materials, and the collection of "sign-ups" to 1Goal via mobile phones. So far GSMA has managed to get 25 operator groups on board for the 1Goal campaign. Smith notes that these operator groups represent 140 operating companies in 82 countries that collectively reach more than 1.5 billion users.

The central aim of 1Goal is to get people to sign up to show their support for the campaign. It is the first of its kind for GSMA and its members. Smith says GSMA “wanted to show the immediacy, intimacy, and scale of the [mobile] medium to reach people on a personal level.”  The actual number of people signing up to 1Goal via text message has not been disclosed but the organizer hope that it will boost the 9.5 million sign-ups obtained from individuals who have added their name to 1Goal via its online platform.

“Many of the operators involved have educational projects and initiatives, and they have been very supportive of the education message,” says Smith, who adds that “each and every operator in the campaign has gone to great lengths to support it.” Some of the mobile operators have been creative in their backing of 1Goal. In Bangladesh, for example, operators have aired special television commercials. In India and Sri Lanka, cricket stars were recruited to increase sign-ups. In Hong Kong, point of sale and other promotions have been used. The Spanish operator Telefónica is promoting the “Education For All” message across all of its territories. In addition, handset manufacturers such as Nokia are also creating apps that enable people to download 1Goal content.

The active participation of worldwide mobile operators in the 1Goal campaign is one of the unique aspects of the FIFA-backed legacy project for the 2010 World Cup. Leveraging the global appeal of the tournament has enabled the creators of 1Goal to attract a star-studded line-up of supporters, from soccer heros Pele, Ronaldo and Zidane, to royalty such as Queen Rania, and celebrities including Shakira, Bono and Salma Hayek. Getting celebrity support is one thing, and many advocacy campaigns rely on such a strategy. But providing a platform for the collective voice of millions of individuals around the world to buttress the call of Education For All allows 1Goal to legitimately claim that its objective is supported by people on a global scale. 

The role of the Private Sector

The way Smith sees it, the involvement of the private sector is “essential, not just from a fundraising perspective, but from a visibility and momentum perspective.” He notes that in addition to giving 1Goal a truly global dimension, “mobile operators are in a great place to lend support to campaigns like 1Goal, partly because of scale, but also because of the power of the medium to reach people on a personal and immediate level.” Mobile phones are ubiquitous and immediate, and operators are “some of the biggest media and sponsorship spenders,” he says, adding that they've provided assets that are helping to extend the reach of the campaign. 

In addition to the participation of mobile operators via GSMA, Barratt notes that, in general, support from elsewhere in the private sector has been critical for 1Goal. He refers to “media companies giving '1day for 1goal,' which range from Sony and the Xbox product having ad hoardings in the game, and SABC committing to getting two million people signed up to support the campaign."

Beating poverty through education

Education is widely recognized as one of the most productive and long-lasting social investments. Indeed, as Barratt notes, “education is the primary method through which poverty can be beaten.” But with so many competing political priorities, and the great need for additional commitments and actions to support economic and social development worldwide, how can 1Goal and the Global Campaign for Education reach its objectives? 

A number of smaller initiatives fall under the broad umbrella of Education For All (like UNICEF’s Go Girls! Education for Every Child public outreach campaign or the African Children’s Educational Trust), and the Global Campaign for Education is backed by more than 100 non-governmental organizations. Sign-ups from the 1Goal campaign will be presented to world leaders in a bid to ensure they follow through with the commitments made in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar, as well as deliver on the Millennium Development Goal Two of achieving universal primary education by 2015. 

According to 1Goal South Africa chief Alex Kent,  the summit of heads of state planned for early July by South African President Jacob Zuma – which will be specifically dedicated to education – represents the first forum where the list of 1Goal signatories will be presented in order to exhort leaders of both developing and developed countries to provide further funding for education. Barratt notes that the 1Goal organizers “hope that the Education Summit – the first-ever political summit held during a sporting tournament – will see new pledges and commitments being made.” This will be followed by another presentation of 1Goal sign-ups at an education summit later this year. 

A winning strategy

Meanwhile, as World Cup fever continues to build, Smith says there has been a corresponding increase in 1Goal’s reach. “The concert on the eve of the World Cup had a special moment when (FIFA president) Sepp Blatter dedicated the event to 1Goal," he says, "and this was aired globally, having a big impact on the campaign – especially in South Africa.”

Barratt says that “mobile has dwarfed other channels of communications in terms of its reach, with the volume of SMS messages going out.” In many cases, mobile operators are running the campaign throughout the duration of the World Cup, and Smith expects that 1Goal will see its numbers swell, and hopefully, its impact strengthened.

(Image courtesy: Mark Smith of GSMA)

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