Together for education

The Roche Employee Action and Charity Trust (Re&Act) – the independent charity that manages the donations raised from the Children’s Walk – has had a longstanding and very successful partnership with UNICEF. Since 2003, which is the year the very first Children’s Walk took place, the two partners have been working hand in hand to increase access to education for children.

Over the years, the partnership has grown, benefitting thousands of children in countries such as Ethiopia, the Philippines, Malawi, Nepal, through programmes on early childhood education and child development. In total, it is estimated that at least 420,000 children have benefitted from these programmes, with approximately 13,000 teachers trained, and more than 110,000 parents and caregivers supported.

“I am proud to celebrate 20 years of partnership between UNICEF and the Re&Act Foundation,” says Bettina Junker, Executive Director of UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein. “Roche is one of our most longstanding and loyal partners. The results we achieved together are truly impressive.”

In 2016, Re&Act and UNICEF started working together in Malawi. First, a Teacher Training College was initiated – a dedicated place for teachers to receive professional training in order to ensure quality education. Next, the Living Schoolyard Transformation initiative was launched, addressing key challenges that many children face today: nutrition, education, and climate change.

Another key focus in Malawi has been around demystifying and destigmatising menstruation. In any given school year, Malawian girls are absent on average 12 to 26 days due to having their period. Apart from a lack of access to hygienic sanitary pads, girls in Malawi face the challenge of inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in schools.

In response, UNICEF set up a programme to support the Ministry of Education in equipping schools with sanitation facilities, enabling girls to improve menstrual hygiene. With support from Re&Act and UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein, UNICEF Malawi supports 50 primary schools in creating awareness for menstrual health and to help reduce stigma and discrimination. In addition, teachers and mothers’ groups were trained in menstrual health and hygiene so that they can educate the students and support girls once they are starting to menstruate.

“UNICEF works in the world’s toughest places, to reach the most disadvantaged children and protect their rights,” says Bettina Junker. “Across more than 190 countries and territories, we do whatever it takes to help children survive, thrive and fulfil their potential.”

Bettina Junker is Executive Director of UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein, one of the many partners that Roche supports through Re&Act – the independent charity that manages the donations raised from the Children’s Walk.

Top image: Bettina Junker, Executive Director UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein, in a classroom in Ethiopia.
© UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein

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