Ogata donates Korean prize to refugee education

Press Releases, 16 October 2000

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, has decided to donate her US $200,000 award as Laureate of the 2000 Seoul Peace Prize to a new Refugee Education Trust, UNHCR said today. Ogata pledged her personal support for the trust: "For refugee children, as for all other children education should be a promise not a dream," she said.

The Refugee Education Trust is being established to mark the 50th anniversary of the UNHCR on December 14, 2000. "The longevity of the UNHCR is not in itself a cause for celebration, but we believe that it is important to pay tribute to the courage, creativity and resilience of refugees are," Ogata said.

The Trust will be an independent body composed of internationally renowned individuals and education experts. It will seek funds from private and public donors, focusing on providing post-primary education to refugee adolescents and youth in developing countries.

A recent study commissioned by UNHCR found a massive discrepancy between refugee enrolment in secondary school (3 per cent) and the average enrolment for nationals (18 per cent) in the least developed countries. That discrepancy increases when gender is taken into account, and is even more pronounced at tertiary education level.

The 2000 Seoul Peace Prize was handed to Ogata in Seoul on Friday. On the same day she was received by the President of South Korea, Kim Dae Jung the winner of the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize and a former refugee. President Kim is also one of hundreds of former refugees who have agreed to feature on UNHCR's special anniversary website (www.unhcr-50.org), the Gallery of Prominent Refugees, one of many projects which mark a half century of refugee achievements.

The Seoul Peace Prize was established in 1990 following the Seoul Olympic Games. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and former US Secretary of State George Schultz are among previous laureates.