By the end of 2012, MSC Cruises' three-and-a-half year partnership with UNICEF and their joint “Get on Board for Children” initiative will have raised two million euros for an innovative project designed to combat poverty and inequality by helping ensure that disadvantaged Brazilian children gain access to quality education.
Brazil is one of the 11 most unequal countries in the world and has alarming levels of poverty in its favelas. MSC Cruises has been market leader in the country since 2008 and is proud to have demonstrated its commitment to the local community through its successful partnership with UNICEF.
The ‘Platform for Urban Centres,’ supported by the partnership, focuses on combating inequalities by ensuring better quality and more equal education opportunities for the vulnerable children of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro using a bottom-up integrated approach in which the community is a vital part of the solution.
Since July 2009, guests on board each ship in the MSC Cruises’ fleet have been invited to ‘get on board for children’ and make a difference by offering a small donation in addition to their cruise fare. These donations have had a huge impact on the lives of thousands of children and young people living in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and on the public policies needed to create a more equal society.
Impact of the ‘Platform for Urban Centres’ on the community
More than 3,300 children and adolescents with disabilities are now attending regular schools in the cities’ school systems, over 130,000 children are attending day care centres, and an extra 1,000 children were able to finish primary education at the appropriate age since the programme began.
The programme focuses on empowering communities through peer-to-peer training, with more than 3,400 children and adolescents and 3,400 leaders from the 127 participating communities now trained as ambassadors for the programme. This has led to the preparation of over 60 local action plans to improve access and quality of education services, half of which are already being implemented.
More than 60 education-themed events and activities have been held by the communities participating in the project, schools are now working more closely with NGOs, parents and health services, and community leaders are actively participating in the preparation of municipal education plans.
The programme has also helped to generate important results outside of the classroom. The number of people using family health care programmes in Rio de Janeiro grew from 22.6% in 2008 to 62.3% in 2010, while the percentage of women receiving prenatal healthcare in Sao Paulo rose from 73% in 2008 to 77% in 2011. With the help of the project, the number of centres for social welfare in Sao Paulo increased from 31 in 2008 to 46 in 2011, and homicide rates amongst adolescents in Rio de Janeiro were reduced from 38 deaths per 100,000 habitants in 2008 to 30.9 deaths per 100,000 habitants in 2010.
The completion of the ‘get on board for children’ project at the end of December 2012 by no means signals the end of MSC Cruises’ collaboration with UNICEF. As a family company based on family values, MSC Cruises’ social priorities are children, families and education, and the company will continue to work with UNICEF on a new project set to be announced in early 2013.