March 05, 2019

Let's work together to get every child in the world into school says UN envoy Gordon Brown

A girl writes on a slate in her classroom at Coleyah Centre Primary School in Guinea

Photo credit: UNICEF Guinea

Highlighting the effect of wars and refugee crises, he called for co-operation among countries to ensure education is delivered to over 200 million children. 

The power of hope can make education for every child in the world a reality.

That was the stirring message from Gordon Brown - the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education - when he called last night for co-operation among countries and international agencies to get all children into school.

His passionate speech in Amsterdam was illustrated by pictures of children affected by wars and humanitarian disasters - including refugees, child labourers, child brides and victims of violence and starvation.

"We can make the dream of education for all come true," said Brown at the annual Goed Geld Gala in Amsterdam last night, hosted by the Dutch Postcode Lottery to celebrate the work of charities.

He called for governments across the world to help launch the new International Finance Facility for Education - a global fund to unlock $10 billion for education and get more than 200 million children into school.

Brown added: "We can all be ambassadors for justice, agents of hope and advocates for change who can ensure that, instead of some children in some of the countries developing only some of their potential only some of the time, we can develop all of the talents of all the people in all of the worlds’ countries."

His inspiring speech came on the night that Theirworld received a new series of grants from the Dutch Postcode Lottery (Nationale Postcode Loterij) to deliver education to thousands of children around the world impacted by conflict and disaster. 

Gordon Brown makes his impassioned speech at the Goed Geld Gala in Amsterdam

Included in the total was a special award of 3.15 million euros ($3.57 million) - which will launch a unique public-private partnership between Theirworld and Education Cannot Wait, the global education fund for children caught up in emergencies. 

Showing a picture of a child affected by conflict, Brown said: "This is one of 13 million refugee children. There are 34 million displaced, 75 million caught in conflict zones - and only one in 100 refugees will ever get to college or university.

"Over the last 50 years, while we have made advances in civil rights, women's equality, LGBT rights, the rights of the disabled, in one area we have failed badly – too little achieved for too many children, especially girls."

The Sustainable Development Goals agreed by all countries at the UN promise quality education for everyone by the year 2030.

But, Brown said: "In 2019, 260 million children are not going to school today or any day. Some 400 million will never get to secondary school. 800 million will leave school early with no qualifications at all."

He said the International Space Station had shown what can be achieved when countries co-operate.

Brown added: "If once implacably opposed enemies can co-operate up there in the skies in the most complex cosmic arena, then surely we can  co-operate down here on Earth to deliver a basic education for every child."

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