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Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland with a group of people at a school with children in India

Commonwealth Secretary-General visits Uttar Pradesh

20 January 2020

On the first day of her visit to India, the Secretary-General travelled to the city of Gorakhpur in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. She took part in the launch of the Out of School Children Project, and attended the country’s first ever Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Choupal.

Out of School Children project

The Out of School Children Project will give access to education to some of the 17.8 million children who are out of school in India. Local people will be at the centre of the initiative. The project plans to set up 50 schools made from shipping containers across 4 states in India. This truly pan-Commonwealth project will also be rolled out in Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria.

The Secretary-General said: ‘It is a great honour and a privilege to launch the first Out of School school. This is a truly transformational initiative that is helping some of the 127 million out of school children across the Commonwealth gain access to an education that they wouldn’t otherwise have’.

Social Development Goals Choupal

The Secretary-General also attended the first ever Social Development Goals (SDG) Choupal, a community initiative that aims to empower rural India to deliver the United Nations’ SDGs. Traditionally in India, a ‘choupal’ is a community building or space, which acts as a hub for the community and a place for debate.

The SDG Choupal brings together groups including rural communities, women and young people. It supports the UN system of advocacy and community engagement for SDG delivery in India.

At the Choupal, the Secretary-General said: ‘Community partnership is critical to the delivery of the SDGs and I am delighted to be present at the first ever SDG Choupal. This is a fantastic initiative to support the delivery of the SDGs in India. If we are to achieve the SDGs by 2030 we need to include everyone and using the traditional mechanism of the Choupal is a fantastic way to do this.’

India mission

On her mission to India the Secretary-General also took part in the Raisina Dialogue conference with other world leaders and opinion formers. She also met representatives of the India government, members of the Commonwealth family in India, and visited Gujarat.

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