WASHINGTON, April 21 (UPI) -- One hundred and twenty-five million children
around the world never attend school. On Sunday, British, Dutch and Canadian
ministers expressed their support for getting all children into school by 2015
but one panelist Phil Twyford, of the non-governmental organization Oxfam,
criticized the absence of the United States.
One of the millennium goals established at the World Education Forum in Dakar,
Senegal was that by 2015 all the world's children should receive primary
schooling. The World Bank believes now that 88 million children will remain
without any education by 2015 unless more begins to be done.
Early Sunday morning in Washington, UK Chancellor Gordon Brown, Dutch Education
Minister Eveline Herfkens, Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin and Norwegian
Development Minister Hilde Johnson all expressed their support for providing the
$2.5 billion per year of external financing that will be required to make the
Children need not just to get into school but also to learn something there,
The children need a "complete education," school fees should be abolished,
education should be linked to prevention of HIV/Aids and the "gender gap should
be closed," for at present less girls receive education than boys. The Dutch
government was "ready now to commit 135 million euros ($120 million) to the
program," Herfkens said.
Brown applauded the education initiative and said "we will do more to
substantially increase Britain's aid budget in volume terms."
Norway's Johnson said "despite Dakar ... not enough has happened." Norway, she
said, would increase the share of its aid budget devoted to education from 8
percent to 15 percent, and Norway planned to increase its total aid budget to 1
percent of gross domestic product -- more than the 0.7 percent of GDP that the
United Nations is currently asking developed countries to devote to aid.
Twyford of Oxfam -- praised by many for its work in promoting the education
initiative -- introduced a critical note. It was crucial in the World
Development Committee's meeting this morning to be precise about how funding
would be supplied to the program. A billion dollars need to be provided now to
support programs, such as Tanzania's, that are already in place.
Meanwhile Twyford said that the United States is "conspicuous by its absence
here." Bush needed to show he was the "education president," Twyford said. His
support for the plan would be a "litmus test of the promises President Bush made
at [the United Nations funding for development conference] in Monterrey."
World Bank President James Wolfensohn added that the U.S. Treasury Secretary
Paul O'Neill had expressed privately his support for the education initiative.