By Safvan Allahverdi
More than 260 million children worldwide are not in school, and the number could soar if nothing is done, the UN’s special envoy for education said Friday.
Speaking at a press briefing at UN headquarters in New York, Gordon Brown announced the launch of a plan to boost funding for education.
The International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd), backed by the UN along with the World Bank and four regional development banks, hopes to provide $10 billion worth of loans and grants for building schools and hiring teachers in poorer countries.
Brown said if no action is taken and trends persist, 400 million children won’t be educated beyond age 11 by 2030, the year the UN is targeting to reach its goal of ensuring a primary and secondary education for all children.
"We can't get away from the fact that there's an education crisis. This divide has catastrophic consequences," Brown noted.
"Instead of being in school, children will be trapped as laborers, brides, soldiers
He said the IFFEd could also help end child labor, child marriages
Emphasizing that half the children of school age did not get enough education and some of them are even illiterate, he said nearly 75 million children in conflict areas could not go to school and 10 million of them fell into refugee status.
Brown, who is also a former UK prime minister, said he is in touch with representatives of 20 countries that he hopes will support the plan. He said he has also asked donor countries to act as guarantors on low-cost lending for education projects.