Operation Day's Work

Operation Day's Work

Operation Day's Work is a charity program based on volunteering by high school students in Sweden to honor the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld [1].

The concept is for the schools to allow the students to leave their high school and work for a single day. The pay for this day of work goes to whatever charity the organization behind the national committee decides. Originally it was called "A Day for Dag".

Today there are Operation Day's Work committees in several countries. The committee in Denmark has helped spreading this type of volunteering to the Netherlands and Italy [2].

The project has been criticised for having excessive administrative costs, a poor choice of collaborators, the support of controversial politicians and the support of organizations connected to terrorism.[3]


Countries with a national Operation Day's Work committee


The national committee was formally founded in 1984.[4]

Instructions from the department of Education specifically state that no student can be forced to take part. The pay for their work goes to a (sometimes controversial)[3] chosen project in a third world country. Only a minor fraction of Danish students participate in this event, mainly because most Danish people see supporting third world countries as something the population has already paid for in taxes. As a result, most students stay in school.[5] Due to a recent agreement with the Danish Ministry of Education the students are no longer considered to be truant during this day.[6] The present Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, created an alternative to Operation Day's work called "Operation School Work" when he was chairman of a youth organization in 1988. As a result, some people suggested he should be accused of murder. [7]

Year Country supported Year Country supported Year Country supported
1985 Tanzania 1996 Ladakh 2004 Nicaragua, Honduras og Guatemala
1986 Nicaragua 1997 Guatemala 2005 Kirgisistan
1988 Namibia 1998 Palæstina 2006 South Africa
1990 Eritrea 1999 South Sudan 2007 Bolivia
1991 Brazil 2000 Romani people 2008 Niger
1992 Somalia 2001 Mexico 2009 Zimbabwe [8]
1994 Ecuador 2002 Nepal 2010 Burma
1995 Mozambique 2003 Cambodja 2011 Peru


The national committee is called Takvärkki. The 2009-2010 project is done for school children in Bolivia. [9]


In Germany there a few organizations which organize the Social Day. The biggest and oldest one is called Schüler Helfen Leben [10] (Students Helping Life), founded in 1992 when war in the Balkans started. Even today this organization runs youth projects in Balkan Region. Schüler Helfen Leben is also the only Day's Work organization in Germany where only students and young volunteers organize the Social Day. Over the years more than 1.000.000 students earned more than 20.000.000 Euro and realized more than 150 youth projects all over the western Balkans. The Patron of the Social Day is the German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Another organization is called "Acktion Tagwerk".[11] This organization is part of the Human Help Network and organizes the social day for children in Africa.


The Italian national committee is called "Operation Daywork".[12] It was founded with aid from Denmark.[2]

The Neatherlands

Founded with help from the Danish committee, [2] the Dutch national committee is called "One Days Work". [13]


Operation Day's Work (Norwegian: Operasjon Dagsverk) is administered by the School Student Union of Norway and was first held in 1964. [14]. The official page provide an oversight of earlier projects:

Year Country supported Year Country supported Year Country supported Year Country supported
1964 Algeria 1967 Peru 1968 Ceylon 1969 Zambia
1970 Zambia 1971 Guinea Bissau and Angola 1972 Portuguese Empire in Africa 1973 Bangladesh
1974 Tanzania 1975 Botswana 1976 Sudan 1977 Brazil
1978 Cambodian refugees in Thailand 1979 Jamaica 1980 Refugees from Eritrea in Sudan 1981 Afghanistan
1982 Zimbabwe 1983 Nicaragua 1984 Bolivia and Ecuador 1985 Namibia
1987 Eritrea 1988 Several places in Africa 1989 Peru 1990 Support for education in freedom
1991 Brazil and Chile 1992 Costa Rica, Ecuador,
Bolivia and Brazil
1993 Cambodia 1994 South Africa
1995 Brazil 1996 Afghanistan 1997 Brazil 1998 Tanzania, Zanzibar,
Malawi and Uganda
1999 Girls all over the world 2000 South Africa, Zimbabwe,
Bolivia and Nicaragua
2001 Indonesia, New Guinea and Malaysia 2002 Sierra Leone
2003 Ceylon 2004 South Africa 2005 Brazil 2006 Nepal
2007 Several places in Central America 2008 Bangladesh 2009 Malawi, Mombasa
Uganda and South Africa
2010 Brazil


Sweden was the first country to etablish this event. Since 1962 the national committee has been under control of a student organization called "Sveriges Elevråds Centralorganiastion, SECO" [15]. There has been a power struggle inside the SECO organization and the government has demanded oversight over the collection of the money.

The campaign for 2010 will support schools in Sudan.[16]

United States

The national committee is called "Operation Day's Work". It was founded n 1999.[17] According to their website they have been involved in the projects listed below.

Year Country supported Year Country supported Year Country supported Year Country supported
1998–1999 Haiti 1999–2000 El Salvador 2000 Nepal 2002 Ethiopia
2003 Bangladesh 2004 Sierra Leone 2005 Vietnam

Another organization called Schools for Schools is using the same concept.


  1. ^ Om Operation Dagsverke, (About), Operation Dagsvaerke Sweden
  2. ^ a b c Operation Dagsvaerk Internationalt, Operation Dagsvaerk Denmark
  3. ^ a b Drop Operation Dagsvaerk
  4. ^ Projects, Operation Day's work, Denmark
  5. ^ Elever svigter Operation Dagsværk, (The students desert Operation Dagsvaerk), Denmark's Radio, November 7, 2007
  6. ^ Retningslinier for statstilskud til Operation Dagsværk (Instructions for aid to Operation Dagsvaerk), the Department of Education in Denmark, September 2004
  7. ^ Lars Løkke efterlyst for mord, by Jesper Lundh, Lokalavisen, March 8, 2009
  8. ^ Country chosen to make the leading African president attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 COP15
  9. ^ Direct action from youth to youth, Operation Days work, Finland
  10. ^ [www.schueler-helfen-leben.de/de/home/verein.html], Germany
  11. ^ Akction-Tagverk, Germany
  12. ^ Operation Daywork, Italy
  13. ^ One Days Work
  14. ^ tidligere prosjekter (Former projects), Operasjon Dagsverk Norway
  15. ^ Frågor och Svar (FAQ), Operation Dagsvaerke Sweden
  16. ^ Årets kampanj, Operation Dagsvaerke Sweden
  17. ^ Our Constitution, Operation Day's Work, USA

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