Africa launches education campaign
Britain gives $15 billion
By Emmanuel Camillo
1:15 p.m. April 10, 2006
MAPUTO, Mozambique – African leaders launched a campaign to get every child in school by 2015, and Britain responded Monday by pledging $15 billion in education aid to developing countries over the next decade.
British Treasury chief Gordon Brown joined Mozambique President Armando Guebuza, former South African President Nelson Mandela and other African leaders in launching the Free Education For All initiative.
Brown's announcement follows a pledge by Britain and other members of the Group of Eight industrialized nations at their summit last year to double aid for Africa, the world's poorest continent.
“We must keep our promises,” Brown said in the Mozambique capital, Maputo.
More than 100 million children worldwide do not go to school because of a lack of teachers and schools, according to the Global Campaign for Education, an alliance of teachers unions and aid groups. The campaign urged other G8 countries, including the United States, to make up a shortfall of $10 billion needed to make basic education for all a reality.
Aid groups and anti-poverty activists welcomed Britain's pledge and urged other wealthy nations to follow suit.
“This is a man who believes going to school should be a right, not a privilege,” U2 singer Bono said of Brown.
Bono helped organize last year's Live 8 benefit concerts to pressure world leaders to spend more in Africa.
“Education for all in Africa is essential for the eventual eradication of poverty and was one of the historic promises made by the G8,” said Bob Geldof, organizer of the Live 8 and Live Aid concerts.
“In the next few weeks and months, starting at the World Bank spring meetings in Washington, the leaders and finance ministers of the G8 must deliver as Gordon Brown has done so impressively today.”
The Global Campaign for Education said aid money must be channeled to poor governments for teachers, books and classrooms, and not be spent on short-term projects that only benefit a limited numbers of students.
In particular, the campaign wants funds committed to a fast-track initiative established by donors to give additional aid to poor countries that have demonstrated a commitment to getting every child in school, including spending at least 20 percent of their budgets on education.
Mozambique is one of 20 countries that have met fast track conditions, but none have received the full amount of aid they need or were promised, the campaign said.
At least 1 million primary children are still out of school in Mozambique, despite an enrollment rate above 90 percent and the construction of 6,000 schools a year.
Earlier, Brown visited a school where children were studying on the floor because of insufficient benches. He also was told there were not enough textbooks and exercise books to go around.