Gordon Brown given UN education role

Gordon Brown given UN education role

BBC |July 13, 2012

By Sean Coughlan| BBC News education correspondent

Former prime minister Gordon Brown is to become a global education envoy for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Mr Brown’s aim is to see 61 million more children enrolled into education across the world by 2015.

Since leaving office in 2010, the former UK prime minister has produced a series of reports on education in developing countries.

Earlier this year he launched a campaign for an international fund to bring education to all children.

Mr Brown said his new role would be a “great privilege”.

“Ensuring that every child in the world has the opportunity to go to school and to learn is a longstanding passion of mine,” said Mr Brown.

“Education breaks the cycle of poverty and unlocks better health and better job prospects.”

Global goals

The announcement, made in New York, means Mr Brown becomes a UN envoy – supporting UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

This unpaid position is the first big job for the former prime minister since he left Downing Street two years ago.

But it does not mean that he will be leaving domestic politics.

His office told the BBC that Mr Brown definitely remained the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

That could lead to further criticism from those who have attacked him for attending few debates and voting in Parliament on only a handful of occasions.

He joins the likes of the former US President, Bill Clinton, and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Mr Brown has been campaigning in support of the millennium development goal that by 2015 all children should have access to at least a primary school education.

While it seems increasingly likely that some of the millennium goals will be missed, Mr Brown has called on the international community to try to keep its pledge on primary education.

Mr Brown earlier this year published a report warning of the “silent emergency” of millions of children not receiving any education – and called for an urgent investment to change this.

He reported that in South Sudan, girls were more likely to die in childbirth than complete a primary school education.

Mr Brown says he wants to support the UN secretary-general’s initiative, Education First, which aims to prioritise education within development projects.

“Enrolling an additional 61 million children and ensuring a quality education for all by the end of 2015 will not be easy – but it is a goal which, working together, we can achieve,” says Mr Brown.

Mr Brown has worked with his wife Sarah on a number of international education projects, including promoting the cause of children in conflict zones who miss out on education.

In a report on South Sudan published in April, he said that more than 40% of the world’s children missing out on education lived in “fragile states” or those affected by violence.

He warned that at present, only 2% of humanitarian aid goes into education.

Mr Brown has said he will continue to serve as MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

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