Brown to become UN education envoy


FORMER BRITISH prime minister Gordon Brown will become the United Nations special envoy for education – marking a return to frontline diplomacy.

Mr Brown will launch a new UN push on universal education in September, calling for a fund to finance schools and train two million teachers.

The unpaid appointment by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon underlines fears that the world will miss its target in 2015 to ensure that all children will be able to complete primary school. Unlike health, education has suffered from a lack of interest and cash from international donors.

Since leaving office, Brown has been criticised for muted performances in parliament. He has argued that most former prime ministers have been similarly quiet and that he has focused on constituency matters and “international work” – meeting leaders across the globe to ensure the economic slump does not mean countries renege on their aid commitments.

In a statement, Brown said he hoped to emulate the successes of Kofi Annan and Bill Clinton, special UN envoys for Syria and Haiti. “Ensuring that every child in the world has the opportunity to go to school and to learn is a longstanding passion of mine. Education breaks the cycle of poverty and unlocks better health and better job prospects,” he said.

Unesco has warned if trends continue the number of children out of school in 2015 could be higher than the 70 million today. It said the poorest 46 nations in the world needed $16 billion (€13 billion) a year to meet the goal of universal education but that after the crash of 2008, governments were only giving $2 billion in aid. – (Guardian service)