When Politician Disses African Education Fundraiser, the Backlash Raises $250K Instead

When Politician Disses African Education Fundraiser, the Backlash Raises $250K Instead

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After a primary school had started a campaign to raise $900 for women’s education in Africa, a senator in South Australia voiced his disproval of the charity effort on Twitter. His grumpy tweet backfired, however, and the backlash resulted in an epic outpouring of $250,000 in donations.

Craigburn Primary School in Adelaide started the “Do It In A Dress” campaign as a means of encouraging their students to raise money for scholarships for girls in Africa, who are required to buy a school dress before attending school.

In a blog post, the school leaders encouraged students, staff, and teachers—even the males—to come to school wearing “a dress or casual clothes” in exchange for a donation. All of the proceeds would then go towards charity.

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“The main thing, of course, is to focus on supporting the education of girls in Africa,” says the school.

Senator Cory Bernardi then tweeted a link to the fundraiser, saying: “One school in SA now has ‘wear a dress day’. This gender morphing is really getting absurd.”

The senator later explained that he felt the campaign was a politicized attempt to force a more liberal, non-gender conforming agenda on primary school students – however, the school responded by saying that they simply thought it would be a fun way for the children to raise money for girls.

“If I look at it in the context of the amount of awareness it’s raised and the money, I think it’s superb,” Craigburn Primary School principal Paul Luke told ABC Radio Adelaide. “If those kids want to have a bit of fun along the way, who is a politician to come along and condemn them for doing so?”

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All of the donations are being given to the One Girl charity – an organization that provides educational scholarships to girls in Africa. The nonprofit’s CEO Morgan Koegel said that while she was delighted over the enormous amount of donations, she was exasperated by Bernardi’s social media post.

“When I saw that Wednesday night, the tweet, I honestly face-palmed because it was just so far off what the campaign’s all about,” said Koegel, according to ABC.

“In the schools that we work in, in Sierra Leone and Uganda, a school dress is a really big deal because only one in six girls has the opportunity to go to high school. For a girl to get to wear a school dress, that means she’s educated, that she’s empowered, that she’s had an opportunity and so we use it to represent the same thing here.”

The school’s donation page has crashed several times from the amount of traffic generated by the controversial tweet. Since Bernardi linked to the page last week, however, it has already raised $272,800 – and still counting.

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(Photo by Rick Persse)

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