OXFORD, England – “Education, education, education” was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s mantra when he set out his priorities for office in 1997. But while Blair’s remarks were focused on education in Britain, Gordon Brown has made it his mission to work for improvements in education globally.
Speaking at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship he announced the formation of a new organisation, “Education without Borders” to tackle the issue.
Brown, who succeeded Blair in 2007 and served as prime minister until 2010, said social enterprise working with governments could solve the problem of millions of children not being able to go to school.
Education is the best way of breaking the cycle of poverty, Brown told delegates. While travelling around the world looking at schools he had found that the thing mothers want the most for their children is education.
“Go to Indonesia and see people begging to go to school, go to Kenya to see 1 million children queuing up to go to school when it becomes possible,” an animated Brown said. “For those children who cannot go to school you see the death in their eyes.”
Some 90 percent of disabled children in the developing world do not go to school but new technology exists to help make this possible, he explained.
Nigeria has 9 million children who do not go to school, but the country has the resources to help and technology has the ability to help them deliver this, Brown said.
“We need to work with governments to convince them to take the issue of education seriously.”
Millions of children do not go to school because governments have broken down, he said.
“We need a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for the education world,” he said and announced an new organisation, “Education Without Borders”, modeled on the medical humanitarian aid agency MSF.
Brown also said ensuring that children had good education would also would help the security of the world by stopping fundamentalist schools from spreading.
The “Education Without Borders” initiative will help to ensure that children living in conflict zones and fragile states are provided with education, according to the “Gordon and Sarah Brown” website.
Along with his wife Sarah, Brown has been supporting education initiatives around the world to help provide education for 69 million children worldwide by 2015.