Chancellor pledges record UK aid package
Gordon Brown will today put Britain at the head of the international campaign to deliver universal primary education by pledging to quadruple aid for schooling in developing countries over the next 10 years.
The chancellor will commit the government to give $15bn (£8.5bn) over the next 10 years, way beyond the confines of the usual three-year spending rounds.
Mr Brown flew to Mozambique last night to join Nelson Mandela at the launch of a new push to deliver the UN's goal of education for all by 2015. He wants other industrialised nations to pick up the gauntlet laid down by "Britain's offer to the world" and make similar contributions to meet the estimated $100bn global bill to meet one of eight millennium development goals agreed in 2000.
"It is one of the world's greatest scandals that today 100 million children do not go to school - denied one of the most basic rights of all, the right to education," Mr Brown will say in Mozambique. "It's no longer acceptable to a civilised world that two-thirds of Africa's children never complete a primary education.
"Throughout 2006 and 2007 Education For All should not just be a slogan. It should become a global cause around which the world can unite that affirms our dignity as human beings - that no matter your birth or background, every child in every part of the world should have the chance to realise their potential, to bridge the gap between what they are and what they have it in themselves to become."
The move - the UK's biggest-ever aid announcement - commits the government to spend an average of $1.5bn a year for 10 years: enough to educate 15 million children a year. It is four times the $3.5bn spent on education aid in the previous 10 years. Britain's highest annual spend so far is around $400m.
The UK is contributing double the amount that would be regarded as par for a leading industrialised nation. The Dutch and Norwegians are also expected to make big contributions; campaigners say the US, Japan and Germany need to do more.
Ann Veneman, the head of Unicef, described the chancellor's move as "great news for the children of the world".
Kevin Cahill, chief executive of Comic Relief, who was travelling with Mr Brown, said Britain was leading the G8 countries. "People can always do more but this is a genuine commitment. The great thing would be if everyone stepped up to the plate and matched that."
Lucia Fry, head of the Global Campaign for Education, said: "It's great news for education." But she was keen to see the chancellor deliver the $1.5bn a year early rather than build up to it gradually.
Until 2007-08, the money will be taken from cash already allocated to the Department for International Development in the last comprehensive spending review. The department has offered to help poorer countries to draw up 10-year education plans to access the long-term aid. They will be expected to concentrate on teacher training, school building and teaching materials. The aid could be spread across around 80 countries.
Money for schools
· At the G8 summit in Gleneagles last year the eight leaders promised a doubling of aid to Africa worth $25bn (£14.3bn) by 2010.
· Gordon Brown pledges to give $15bn over the next decade for education.
· It is four times the $3.5bn spent on education aid in the previous decade.
· The US gave $3.4bn aid to Africa in 2004.
· Aid agencies estimate a fair amount for education would be $3.9bn a year from the US, $1.5bn from Japan and $800m from Germany.