Gordon Brown: Create Emergency Fund for War, Disaster-Struck Kids


United Nations envoy Gordon Brown has proposed an emergency fund to be created for young people being struck by natural disasters and war.

UNESCO says 124 million children are currently not enrolled in school – something that the education summit in Oslo, Norway wants to see reversed. The Oslo Summit on Education for Development seeks to bring global leaders and decision-makers to encourage their education funding promises to become reality.

Conflict and disaster prone children are the most at risk, which is why Mr. Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and present UN envoy, has called for an exclusive, multi-million dollar education fund to support families in war-struck countries and nations hit by natural disasters. The percentage of humanitarian aid invested in education is inconsequential, Mr. Brown argues:

“Despite the mass exodus of child refugees, currently just a tiny percentage of humanitarian aid is spent on education.”

UNESCO reports that just 2% of humanitarian aid went to education in 2014 and that the 4% target set back in 2011 is inadequate and must be revised. Mr. Brown adds:

“A humanitarian fund for education would have allowed us to help Syrian refugees and those caught up in the Nepal earthquake emergency without having to spend months sending the begging bowl around the international community which is what happens now.”

The under-funding of education, which is $22 million short is denying children valuable life opportunities, Børge Brende, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway say in a co-authored article:

“Behind these figures there are children and youth being denied not only a right, but opportunities: a fair chance to get a decent job, to escape poverty, to support their families, and to develop their communities.”

They add:

“We have a responsibility to make sure we fulfill the promise we made at the beginning of the millennium: to ensure that boys and girls everywhere complete a full course of primary schooling.”

According to a recently published report by the Overseas Development Institute, 65 million children are directly affected by natural disasters and conflict. For this to be reversed, a total of $4.8 billion is needed annually, or just $74 per child.

Youth in war and disaster free countries are deprived of education, too. In low-income countries, just 17% of children have access to early education, while 5 in 10 children under five years old are without access to education.

The Global Business Coalition for Education, with LEGO and H&M among its members, are supporting the cause of “investing in children early to help provide the best possible start in life.”.

In a Huffington Post UK article co-authored by Jacob Kragh of the Lego Education Foundation and Sanna Lukander, VP of Learning for Rovio Entertainment Ltd., and Maria Bystedt, Acting Global Manager at H&M Conscious Foundation, the three call for:

”[G]overnments around the world to invest more in their own countries and clearly present the need for early childhood programming. . . . Globally, only 4.9% of total public government expenditure on education was spent on pre-primary education in 2012.[W]we encourage business leaders and civil society worldwide to complement government efforts to support early childhood development and education.”

Brown’s call for a global emergency education fund is supported by Oxfam, Save the Children, World at School and ActionAid, BBC reports.