Donations from the IKEA Foundation will enable UNICEF and Save the Children to improve education in 18 countries.
Millions of IKEA customers took part in the Soft Toys for Education campaign over the holiday season, raising €10.1 million for educational projects by buying IKEA soft toys and children’s books.
For every soft toy or children’s book sold in IKEA stores during November and December, the IKEA Foundation donates €1 to educational projects run by Save the Children and UNICEF.
The projects train teachers, improve child-protection systems, provide educational materials, and increase school attendance in some of the world’s poorest communities.
Thanks to this year’s donation, UNICEF will fund the Schools for Africa initiative in eight countries and the Schools for Asia initiative in China. Save the Children’s share will support education for children with disabilities and those from ethnic minority groups in Asia and Europe.
“Helping children with disabilities and children of minority groups gain access to a quality education is empowering children, families and communities in creating a better and brighter future. Through the IKEA Foundation’s commitment to helping marginalized children, change is made. We are very grateful for our partnership with the IKEA Foundation and thankful for all hard working IKEA employees as well as IKEA’s customers,” said Elisabeth Dahlin, Secretary General of Save the Children Sweden and Chairperson Global Lead Agency for the Save the Children and IKEA Foundation collaboration.
Josephine Bourne, UNICEF Global Chief of Education added “Giving the most vulnerable and excluded children the opportunity to go to school and learn is essential to building their future. No child should be denied this opportunity because of poverty, disability, gender, conflict or disaster, such as the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. UNICEF is grateful for the continued and invaluable support from the IKEA Foundation, IKEA customers and co-workers worldwide to fulfil children’s right to quality education”
The Soft Toys for Education campaign has helped improve education for more than 11 million children in 46 countries since 2003.
The funding can be used for a wide range of educational activities, even helping children continue to learn when disasters strike. For example, €880,000 of last year’s donation is supporting UNICEF’s efforts to help children in Sierra Leone learn remotely via radio programmes while their schools are closed because of the deadly Ebola outbreak; the money is also helping children and families get the lifesaving information and support they need to survive.