Tirana 12 May 2009 - Italian football legend, AC Milan, teamed up in an exhibition game with the Albania National Team at “Qemal Stafa” Stadium, in support of Albania Reads. The Albania Reads Initiative helps to establish libraries in public schools, and is part of a movement to promote the culture of reading among school children. UNICEF ambassadors David Beckham and Paolo Maldini have for many years supported programmes for under-privileged children around the world.
The Albania Reads Initiative puts books into the hands of students. The contribution of AC Milan, in the amount of 50,000 Euro, enables UNICEF and its partners to equip libraries in an additional 50 schools. UNICEF works alongside the Ministry of Education and Science, publishing houses, media, private sector, writers, Albanian celebrities, civil society, children, parents and communities to enhance the reading skills of children in Albania.
Students and teachers have been enthusiastic about this programme and they put the books to good use. For many students, access to good quality books can be a life-changing experience. The renewed interest in reading is likely to reverse a situation where many adolescents, especially from remote and poor communities were not able to complete more than the simplest reading tasks. Lack of reading practice results in low ability to read, slow learning and missed opportunities
“UNICEF is committed to continue to support the Ministry of Education and Science and other partners to improve the quality of education and ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn” says Detlef Palm, UNICEF Representative.
The match between AC Milan and the Albania National Team is sponsored by Taçi Oil and the Sheraton Tirana Hotel Towers. Following the game, the Sheraton Hotel hosted a dinner which was attended by former AC Milan players and featured an auction of players’ shirts. The proceeds of the auction were given to UNICEF for the Albania Reads Initiative. Since 1995 Starwood Hotels and Resorts (of which Sheraton Hotels are a part) have been supporting UNICEF through its global initiative “Check Out for Children”, which has raised over US$21 million worldwide for UNICEF programs. Funds are raised for the “Check Out for Children” partnership by adding US$1 to each guest’s bill at check out.
Albania Reads has been supported by a number of corporate partnerships. To date, 970 school libraries have been set up with the help of Ikea Foundation, Vodafone Foundation, Raiffeisen Bank and AMC. Previously disadvantaged young people from the Youth Albanian Professional Services (YAPS) Foundation build new bookshelves and help distributing the books. Books have also been donated from publishing houses.
UNICEF works in more than 150 countries to help children survive and thrive. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF works to advance the Millennium Development Goals by supporting child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, access to clean water and sanitation, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation and AIDS.
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