Gordon Brown speaks to the GCE

By Richard Serunjogi, LCID BME Officer

Gordon Brown last night argued that education is not only a basic human right but the key to economic growth and development.  Mr Brown spoke at a Global Campaign for Education (GCE) event held at Bloomberg in London as part of the launch of his book, Beyond the Crash.

We were joined by Nobel prize-winning economist Professor Amartya Sen in a live link-up from Harvard University whom Mr Brown candidly described as a mentor of his . Mr Brown addressed the short-sightedness of cutting education budgets which he argued are critical to creating a global prosperity that can be sustained and shared.

Gordon Brown, who is the Convener of the High Level Panel for Education for GCE said: “In order to prepare people for the jobs of the future and to ensure that the benefits and burdens of the next wave of globalisation are more fairly shared, education has to be prioritised. Investing in education will deliver vital growth that will benefit the next generation. 69 million children do not go to school today or any day. It’s a scandal of the worst order, a waste of human potential and a fundamental perversion of the real purpose of economic policy.”

The Global Campaign for Education is warning that without a new compact between poor and rich countries, the great strides that have seen some 40 million more children go to school in the last 10 years could be reversed with more children out of school in 2015 than they are today. While Britain is retaining its aid commitments, others such as the Netherlands are dramatically cutting their education budgets and the twin tensions of food and financial crisis force poor countries to reduce their spending.

In his book Mr Brown makes the case for significant investment in education and argues that this needs to be one of the major initiatives of the G20 in 2011, and has to be the cornerstone of any sustainable effort to re-inflate the world economy.

Mr Brown said: ‘Going to school is the best anti-poverty, anti-famine, anti-disease and anti-unemployment programme there is.  As well as boosting jobs and GDP, the evidence is clear that education will help countries take advantage of our transition from an unbalanced global economy to one with multiple drivers of growth.”

A recent report by the UN found that if every child could read, 171 million children could be lifted out of poverty, and if every child received just one year’s education it could deliver 1% growth to a country’s GDP.

Kailash Satyarthi, President of the Global Campaign for Education said:

“The world we live in is the outcome of what we teach it but many governments are condemning a generation of young people to poverty by not investing in education.  The impact of the financial crisis has seen real cuts to aid budgets and Mozambique and Rwanda education budgets recently had to be bailed out. The growth dividend from investing a donor’s dollar in education is clear, we hope that next year world leaders will begin to act on this.

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