Statement by Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education
Thursday, 10 September 2015, 12:00 EST

  • Brown backs new plan to enroll 1 million Syrian refugees into school in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon
  • Calls on international community to provide $250 million in resources to support international agencies and governments to deliver education for Syrian refugees
  • Experts outline measures to scale-up double-shift schools, temporary learning centers and catch-up programs for refugee children
  • 200,000-student target in Lebanon could be achieved in time for September start of school if $30 million shortfall is bridged
  • Some refugee children have been out of school for over five years, vulnerable to child labour, trafficking and early marriage

Brown said: 
“Today, as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, I am backing three reports on Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, showing in graphic detail how we can immediately help over 1 million Syrian refugee children off the streets and into schools. 

“Nearly four million Syrians, half of them children, are now refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

“Despite the wonderful and heroic work of the international agencies, whose humanity I applaud, millions of children are falling through the net, trapped between a humanitarian system that rightly focuses on shelter and food and a development aid system that does not plan for emergencies.

“Millions of the refugee children will go through their entire school-age years in exile and thousands of them will never enter a school classroom.

“These children will be away from their homes for more than 10 years on average.  They will have lost their childhood, something never to come back.

“So today, with detailed recommendations in three separate reports – one on Jordan, one on Turkey, and an updated report on Lebanon – published by Theirworld with A World at School and the Global Business Coalition for Education – we are putting forward a plan that could take ONE MILLION Syrian refugees away from the dangers of child labour, child trafficking and child marriage and into education.

“THE FIRST REPORT ON LEBANON shows the progress we have made but the challenges that are still to be overcome for what may soon be 500,000 school-age refugee children and youth.

“Yesterday I talked with the Lebanese Education Minister who has set up a double-shift system and a target to accommodate 200,000 of the refugee students this year in Lebanese schools. He is also expanding accelerated learning for thousands more who have missed out.

“The international community is still short about $30 million to fully reach the target for the new school year in Lebanon, slated to start in a few days’ time. School places are now guaranteed for just over 140,000 students, but our long-term plan is to reach all students. 

“THE SECOND REPORT OUTLINES THE CRISIS IN JORDAN where 90,000 refugee children still remain out of school. 

“This week I talked to King Abdullah of Jordan who is supportive of the efforts in partnership with the international community to provide education for these children.

“THE THIRD REPORT CHARTS THE TRAGEDIES IN TURKEY, host to the largest number of Syrian refugees and the largest number of refugees worldwide.

“These refugee children in the region could be in school if we were to scale-up finance for the efforts, including expanding the double-shift system pioneered by the Lebanese Government and being used in Jordan and Turkey, and by putting in place other measures for Syrian young people to catch up on missed years of school.

“We must also ensure the youngest children do not miss out by preparing them to learn through expanded early childhood education.

“In Lebanon, under the double-shift system, the first half of the school day is used to teach children in French and English, the second half to teach Syrian refugees in Arabic.

“Normally, during emergencies there are no buildings, no staff and no capacity. But in the case of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where most Syrian refugees reside, what is missing are not the classrooms or the trained teachers – but the money to pay for them.

“For an average of $500 a year, or less than $1-2 per day in many instances, we can provide school places that would allow parents and children to do what they say they would prefer to do: gain the skills to rebuild their communities and country.

“Building on the approximate $150 million we have already raised this year for education for Syrian refugees, we will need upwards of $250 million more to achieve these goals.

“I call on the international community not to cut or shift international aid to the region but, as the school year begins, deliver these vitally needed additional funds.

Read the reports here.

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Statement from Gordon Brown on 500 Day Anniversary of Chibok Kidnapping

It has been 500 days since 276 young girls were abducted in Chibok Nigeria from a Government Secondary School.  While 57 of these girls have escaped, 219 still remain missing and have been at risk of trafficking, forced marriage and other forms of exploitation.  These were some of Nigeria’s most courageous young women who wanted nothing more than an education to build a better future for themselves and their families and make their community and country stronger.

Through prayer services, candlelight vigils, marches and even a meeting with the UN Secretary-General, this Week of Action culminating on Day 500, led by the Bring Back Our Girls movement, has shown that people from across the world will not forget the girls of Chibok.

Today I announce that the Safe Schools Initiative partnership, catalyzed by the Global Business Coalition for Education with the Nigerian government, and supported by UNICEF, UNDP and multiple donor agencies from across the world, has now supported nearly 50,000 young girls and boys, displaced by the violence of Boko Haram, receive an education.  Thanks to the campaigns led by A World at School, donors have contributed resources to: distribute learning materials, including 35,000 bags, children displaced by the violence; train 683 teachers to teach the internally displaced children in double-shift schools in safer communities; transfer 2,400 of the most at-risk girls and boys to safer schools in other parts of the country; pilot new interventions for making schools safe; establish new state coordination committees to oversee Safe Schools Initiative interventions; and approve a reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok.

On this 500 Day Anniversary, I urge all donors to remember the girls of Chibok and to support the Safe Schools Initiative Multi-Donor Trust Fund so that we can work together to make it possible for more children in Nigeria to safely go to school and learn.


Photo: © Brook Ward/

Statement From Gordon Brown on International Youth Day

On International Youth Day UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown said:

“Today’s events mark a new development in thriving youth activism. Not since the end of World War Two – exactly 70 years ago – have so many children and teenagers been displaced from so many countries.

And never have so many become refugees as a result of civil conflicts and the break up of regimes.

Today 30million young people are officially displaced persons, exiled from their homes in their own countries.Around 10million have become refugees, forced to seek shelter in countries far from their home and their families.

There are currently 5.5 million children who have been affected by the Syrian conflict, most of whom enjoyed education before the civil war.

Most now go without any school or education. It is a tragedy of epic proportions yet amidst the pain and the suffering there is still aspiration, a desire for life and for knowledge and for opportunity.

And with a focus on the direct engagement of young people in fighting for their rights, we should be proud to highlight the fact that nothing less than a civil rights struggle is underway, led by young people and their endless energy.

Today we can announce there are almost 1,000 global youth ambassadors, led by A World at School, today making the case for an end to youth exploitation and the right to universal education.

And next month, a town hall rally will be held in New York, on September 28, and addressed by youth leaders standing alongside Graca Machel to highlight their demands for support.” 

2015 is the ‘Year of Fear’ for children says Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, summed up some of the reasons why millions of children are not at school around the world. He said: “This is not the year of the child but the year of fear.”

Mr Brown addressed journalists at the UN in New York yesterday to emphasise the need for a humanitarian fund for education in emergencies.

He said there were “rising numbers of girls and boys at risk from conflict in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Burundi, South Soudan, northern Nigerian and from natural disasters in Nepal”.

On child labour, he added: “We expect the figure to rise as in crisis zone after crisis zone even school-age children who were once at school are being forced into child labour.

“Today in some of the world’s most troubled spots it is open season for traffickers, with girls snatched from the streets in Nepal to adolescents forced into marriage in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.”

He said it was vital to get children back to school quickly in Nepal after the earthquake, adding: “The government is directly warning half a million girls – now on the streets – and their parents, to beware of suspicious gangs trying to recruit them and traffic them out of the country.”

Mr Brown reiterated the call from A World at School and Plan International for a Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies which he said could be launched later this year at the UN General Assembly. It would remove delays and prevarication when disasters strike.

He said the best answer to the many problems facing millions of children around the world was education.

“Not only does school offer opportunity and safety,” he said, “It restores hope that as children they can plan for a better future.” 

Press release: Gordon Brown in talks with President-Elect Buhari of Nigeria about missing girls

Gordon Brown has welcomed the release of 200 girls from captivity by Boko Haram and called for the immediate release of all abducted girls.
“It is time to end the nightmare,” said the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, who will have talks with President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari tomorrow.
“For a year families have not known whether their daughters are dead or alive, married off, sold off or violated as a result of their captivity.
“Now that some girls have been released we want all girls released. And we want them home with their families in days – not months or years.
“I will talk to President-Elect Buhari tomorrow about how the international community can provide air and military help to free the girls.
“And I will also offer help for safe schools which allow girls to participate in education, free of fear.
“We need more secure,​ better-​prepared ​safe ​schools​ to make girls and parents know everything is being done to protect them.
“Today 10 million children don’t go to school in Nigeria.
“By creating safe schools and communities ​where girls are free of fear we can get every child into school and learning.”

Media Release: Nobel Winners Join UN Education Envoy In Kidnapped Girls Plea

Three of the world’s leading children’s education campaigners have written an open letter demanding the release of 200 schoolgirls, kidnapped one year ago next week.
Joint Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi have joined with  UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown to plead with the international community to keep up the fight to free the girls and to create more safe schools for education, free of fear. 
They want world leaders to invest in strategies and systems to make schools safer in countries where terrorism has escalated.
On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram gunmen swarmed the town of Chibok in Nigeria’s North East and spirited more than 200 girls away in the dead of night. They have not been seen since.
Worldwide outrage followed over the mass abduction and a campaign, Bring Back Our Girls, was launched. But repeated attempts to locate the group have failed. Now, the campaigners want to ramp up efforts to find them and remind the families of the kidnapped girls that the world has not forgotten.
Beginning this week, a seven-day remembrance of the girls will include vigils, marches, demonstrations and letter writing. Schools in Nigeria are being called upon to organise​ searches ​under the title ​Global Schoolgirl March and ​at the same time the ​Chibok Girls Ambassadors ​-​ schoolgirls aged 10 to 18 who ​have  volunteer​ed their time in support – will be joined in  campaigning across the world by A World at School’s global youth ambassadors who will organise vigils in support of the girls in more than 100 countries.
The letter, organised by Mr Brown will be sent to new Nigerian President Muhammada Buhari – who has promised to crack down hard on Boko Haram – and other global leaders.
Also signed by Malala and Kailash, it states:
“We wish to reawaken the international community  to the plight of more than 200  Nigerian girls kidnapped from their school on April 14 last year and who have been held captive for a year by an organisation whose name means ‘western education is a sin.’ The girls have been  taken prisoner simply because they wanted to study and to enjoy the benefits of an education.
“A year on, the girls parents wake up every morning not knowing whether their daughters are alive or dead and whether they have been violated, fire end into marriage  or sold into slavery.
“We support the week-long remembrance of the girls, starting on April 8, and the call that they be immediately returned to their parents.
“We call on all who can do so to join with Nigerian school pupils in the Global School Girl March  and to engage in supportive activities working alongside the ​Chibok Girls Ambassadors and A World at School’s 500 Global Youth Ambassadors in more than 100 countries round the world.
“And we call on the international community to give every possible assistance to the new Nigerian President Buhari, whom we welcome to office, to secure the earliest possible release of the girls and to create Safe Schools in Nigeria in which girls will be able to learn in secure surroundings, free of fear.”

Statement: Brown Calls for Immediate Release of Student Victims in Kenya University Attack

​Today, gunmen burst into early morning Christian prayers at Garissa University College in Kenya- only 90 miles from the border with Somalia – taking hostages from the service, separating Christian​s​ and Muslim​s​ and shooting innocent students.

The attack has been carried out by militant extremist group al-Shabab, who were responsible for the attack on the Westgate shopping Center in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in 2013 when 67 people died.

As many as ​600 students were unaccounted for on the campus of 815 at the time of this statement. At least ​21​ people have been killed.

UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown said:

“Gunman from the militant group al-Shabab, who have shot and ​taken hostage students in Kenya today, must be sent a message that attacks on schools, colleges and universities are a crimes against humanity and that educational establishments are designed as safe havens​, deserving protection in exactly the same way in the Geneva Conventions as Red Cross hospitals.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the staff, students, family and people of Kenya impacted by today’s heinous attack.

“This fierce shootout and hostage situation which has left many injured comes a year after Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 school girls in Chibok, Nigeria, a similar incursion in Pakistan where several months ago 120 students were killed and in South Sudan where children are being abducted from schools to serve as child soldiers.

“I have been working closely with the Ms. Leila Zerrougui the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to ensure all attacks on schools and education are documented and reported to the Security Council.

“Today I am calling for the immediate, safe release of the students in today’s attack in Kenya, a release of the more than 200 school girls abducted in Nigeria before the one-year anniversary on April 14th and for a release of the 89 schoolboys who were sitting for exams in Wau Shilluk, South Sudan. 

“There have been more than 10,000 attacks on schools ​and educational establishments ​during the past five years.  This is unacceptable and individuals and armed groups using schools as theaters of violence must be brought to justice. 

​”​We must support the Security Council ​in using all means at its disposal to put an end to these attacks on ​education.


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Press Release: UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown calls 2015 the year of ending the violation of the rights of the child

Speaking from the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mr Brown said: 
“It has been one month since the kidnapping of 89 South Sudanese boys from their classrooms to train then as child soldiers, 
“It has been three months since the Peshawar school attack where 140 were killed, 
“It is one year on from Boko Haram’s mass abduction of more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria, 
“It is exactly four years since the Syria conflict began, which has exiled one million children and displaced two million more, most of whom are no longer at school.
“It is time for us to end the shameful breaches of international law that violate the rights of millions of children by calling a halt to the militarization of schools, stopping the now-growing abduction of school pupils as weapons of war and insisting – even in conflict zones – that properly resourced ‘safe schools’ enable children to enjoy their education in peace.
‘Today I am making a plea from the heart to the conscience of the world that we now wake up to the suffering faced by millions of children. 
There have been more than 10,000 attacks on schools during the past five years
Terror attacks on schools around the world have risen to higher levels than at any point in 40 years 
28 million boys and girls are not in school in areas of conflict or emergency
Children’s rights are abused with little clarity about the rules and guidelines that would ensure schools had the same protection as safe havens and hospitals have under the Geneva Conventions 
And today only one per cent of humanitarian aid is allocated to education
“I have visited Pakistan, Nigeria, the DRC and South Sudan and will soon visit Lebanon and seen how children have become the silent tragic victims of conflict: their rights neglected as world renowned author JK Rowling has said because ‘who is easier to silence than a child.’
“I want to propose urgent action to deal with what has, even in the early months of 2015, become a growing crisis from Iraq to Nigeria, from South Sudan to Pakistan. 
“Today I am calling for four fundamental changes to strengthen our defense of the rights of schoolgirls and boys. And I am promising to urge the international community to invest in making our schools safer in some of the most troubled and dangerous areas of the world.”
“First, I call on international partners to reach agreement this spring on a new multi-million dollar Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies. We have set a deadline for progress at the Oslo Summit on Global Education in July.
“Second, with the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Borge Brende, I am calling a conference on educating the half-million Syrian child refugees in Lebanon on April 16 in Washington in support of a new pact for the delivery of education with the Lebanese minister of education, our aim to raise the missing $163m needed to operate a double shift system in Lebanese schools to educate all Syrian child refugees. 
“Third, following the successful start to the Safe Schools Initiative in Nigeria, which has the support of President Goodluck Jonathan, we are now announcing today a new safe schools partnership between private and public sectors starting in Pakistan. With the support announced today of Prime Minister Sharif, we will launch a 1,000 school pilot to use technology to make schools safe. And we will shortly announce plans to extend the Safe Schools Initiative to South Sudan, Lebanon and the DRC. 
On Wednesday, speaking from Islamabad, Prime Minister Sharif said: 
“The Government of Pakistan is committed to rooting out terrorism and extremism from the country. Security of the educational institutions is at the core of the national agenda of the Government. We appreciate technological assistance from friends as terrorism has no boundaries and terrorists have no religion. Pakistan has been at the forefront of international efforts to counter terrorism and has rendered great sacrifices in this regard. We value the support and cooperation extended by Rt Hon Gordon Brown and all other partner organizations to make the Pakistani schools safe and secure and to improve the standard of education in the country.”
Brown continued: 
“Fourth, we are asking all countries to sign the international Safe School Declaration to protect schools from military use and attacks – giving schools the same protections as Red Cross hospitals.  These efforts to protect schools from attack are now supported by 30 countries and international organizations.
“The tragedy in South Sudan with schools being militarized and over 12,000 children abducted to serve as child soldiers must be stopped.  I am supporting the education campaigns of UNICEF to help 400,000 South Sudanese children go back to Safe Schools. 
‘I look forward to  this year’s Security Council report on children in armed conflict to be presented by the excellent and hard-working UN Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict who has given special attention this year to violations in South Sudan.
“Among the new developments to address the children’s crisis, I can announce today a 1,000 school pilot in Pakistan in a partnership between the government, UNICEF and the Global Business Coalition for Education, spearheaded by a pro-bono technology contribution from Predictify.Me, a US-based data sciences and predictive analytics firm. The partnership will deliver state-of-the-art technology and simulation software to assess the level of risk preparedness of schools and generate recommendations for school and community safety plans.  Each school will receive specific recommendations for improving the school’s set-up to become safer and recommendations for community measures and ongoing risk forecasts.
“In Nigeria, the Safe Schools Initiative, established in response to the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls nearly one year ago, has reached $30 million, with the most recent contribution from the United States government as part of the White House’s Let Girls Learn initiative. Brown announced that nearly 30,000 children displaced by Boko Haram are in double-shift schools and additional children in at-risk areas are benefiting from school relocation and increased security measures. 
“I am calling for the release of the more than 200 school girls abducted in Nigeria before the one year anniversary on April 14th and for a release of the 89 schoolboys who were sitting for exams in Wau Shilluk, South Sudan.  It is sad that the kidnappers are now offering to return the children to sit for their exams but then keep them in captivity to serve as child soldiers.” 
Brown added: “We can no longer wait.  It is time for decisive action,” insisting a new fund for education in emergencies is necessary to prevent millions of children and youth from falling through the cracks.  “We must build stronger and more innovative partnerships linking business, technology, foundations and governments to deliver on the safe schools agenda.”
Editor’s Notes:
Three countries are now benefiting from “Safe Schools” efforts backed by the UN Special Envoy.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif supported a Safe Schools Initiative with the UN Special Envoy following a 15-point best practices plan released by global education campaign A World at School.
Brown backs a new, innovative partnership which will deliver state-of-the-art technology to promote Safe Schools in Pakistan in cooperation with the government, UNICEF, the Global Business Coalition for Education and local NGOs.
Spearheaded by pro-bono technology contribution from Predictify.Me, a US-based data sciences and predictive analytics firm, headed by Rob Burns, CEO and Dr Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani, Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist.
The Pakistan Safe Schools initiative will introduce the use of simulation software to assess the level of risk preparedness of schools and generate recommendations for school and community safety plans.
New scheme will start with a 1,000-school pilot covering all four provinces and the federal territory of Islamabad.
Each participating school will receive a report providing a designation on the degree of risk, specific recommendations for improving the school’s set-up to become safer and recommendations for community measures and ongoing risk forecasts.
Call to action for donors to come on board to support this work so it can be rolled out and scaled up nationally.
In Nigeria, the Safe Schools initiative, catalyzed by an initial investment by Global Business Coalition for Education corporate leaders, has mobilized more than $30million for the protection of schools.
International support has come from the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany and the African Development Bank.
One million Nigerians are internally displaced, 157,000 refugees in Niger, 40,000 in Cameroon and 17,000 in Chad.
Six million of the 11 million Nigerians who live in the three states under State of emergency have been affected by the insecurity, with four million in Borno State alone.
By end of 2014, according to UNICEF, a total of 338 schools have been destroyed, at least 196 teachers and more than 314 students killed and more than 276 abducted.
The Safe Schools Initiative has moved forward with three programs:
1. Transfer Program: This program transfers students from high-risk areas in the three states (Adamawa, Borno & Yobe) that have been the most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency and are currently on the emergency rule by the federal government.  These states have a high risk of attacks on schools.  Students are transferred to one of 43 federal community colleges across the northern part of the country. The program started with 2,400 students from the three states (800 from each state).


2. Safe Schools Model: This model rebuilds schools to make them more secure and safer for children and teachers. The Nigerian Army Engineer Corps assessed schools in each state to determine what is needed to make the schools secure to deliver quality education. 
  • Scanners, solar power and risk profiles for schools have been part of these efforts. 
  • Strengthening the School-based Management Committees (the link between the school, community and first responders) to determine who to call when an alarm is sounded. 
  • Considering issues around emergency planning, emergency management and evacuation plans

3. Education provision for internally displaced individuals: UNICEF has been leading and working with government to provide education to IDPs living in camps.  This includes the procurement of school-in-a-box kits and 35,000 schoolbags for displaced students to be distributed in the camps. Activities to have a double-shift schedule and multi-grade patterns are underway.
More than 14million children are suffering as a result of war in Syria and Iraq with an estimated three million girls and boys forced out of school, many for years.
The humanitarian appeal for the education sector remains only 15 per cent funded in 2015.
In Lebanon, partners are working to ensure financing for nearly 500,000 out-of-school children.
Brown agrees with the Lebanese Minister of Education’s proposal for an enrollment pact between government and donors to advance progress in Lebanon. 
The UN Envoy is working with the government to ensure delivery arrangements to make education possible and with donors to form a pact for long-term, predictable financing. $100million of the $263million has been delivered in support of the plan.
A meeting will be held April with the government and key donors during the IMF/World Bank Spring meetings to advance progress for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.



70% of the 1200 schools in the major conflict areas are closed and 36 schools are being used for military purposes.

More than 12,000 children have been recruited by all sides in the conflict.


UNICEF continues to urge the release of hundreds of children, including 89 schoolboys about to sit exams, taken from Wau Shilluk in Upper Nile State.


UNICEF has commenced a nationwide back to learning campaign in South Sudan targeting 400,000 out of school children. 200,000 of the target children and adolescents are in the conflict states and have been forced out of school by the fighting


For more information, please contact:
Ravneet Ahluwalia


Press Release: Mass Hostage Release Sparks Chibok Girls Plea

Gordon Brown has issued a fresh plea to the kidnappers of 220 Nigerian schoolgirls to release them immediately.
The former British Prime Minister urged Boko Haram militants to free the girls who were taken from the town of Chibok last April. 
Mr Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, was speaking after the same terrorist group yesterday released 158 women and children taken during a separate raid on Katarko, in December. They were held captive for more than a month before finally being freed  and reunited with their families.
The circumstances of their release are still unclear but it may spark hopes that the Chibok girls can finally be returned home.
Mr Brown said families had suffered 10 months of “cruelty and anguish” not knowing their fate. Despite a worldwide campaign, Bring Back our Girls, their whereabouts remain unknown.
The last clue to where they might be was a heartbreaking but chilling picture of the girls huddled together on scrubland, all wearing black and grey hijabs. It was taken just weeks after the kidnapping and sent to news agencies by Boko Haram.
Mr Brown promised that there would be no let up in the campaign to find them and free them.
He said: “I am making a humanitarian plea after the terrorists released a separate group of women and girls following a kidnapping that took place in December. Now they have released some hostages, they should release them all.
“Boko Haram are piling cruelty upon cruelty by failing to free the girls. They have now been away from their families for 10 months.
“We will keep up pressure until they are released and if they are still prisoners we will mark the one year of captivity with a vigil planned at the United Nations in New York on April 14.”

Press Release: Prime Minister Sharif Backs New Pakistan Safe Schools Initiative and Pledges to Make it ‘A Success’

A World at School today launches a 15-point plan for a Pakistan Safe Schools Initiative – backed fully by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and UN Special Education Envoy Gordon Brown –  in a multi-million dollar campaign for girls’ and boys’ education.  

It follows an agreement between former British Prime Minister Mr Brown and Prime Minister Sharif to work together on a joint effort for the security and safety of schoolchildren. And the plan will be accompanied by an appeal to donor governments, foundations and the business sector to finance the initiative.

Prime Minister Sharif said yesterday: “I am personally committed to making this initiative a success.”

Since the 1970s Pakistan has experienced more attacks on education than any other country in the world. Terrorists have destroyed thousands of school buildings, taken the lives of hundreds of teachers and students and denied the right to education to thousands more.

In the past five years, more than 1,000 schools have been destroyed in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which includes Peshawar, where the latest and deadliest attack took place on December 16. During an eight-hour shooting spree more than 130 boys and girls and nine teachers were massacred by Taliban gunmen.

Now a full-scale response – championed by Mr Brown – is being launched to help protect schools, students and staff from further attacks. It will require major international funding.

The Pakistan government has already taken steps to implement some security measures and the Punjab government has released a set of requirements for schools, include installing closed-circuit cameras, raising boundary walls of schools to at least eight feet and topping them with razor wire before they reopen following the 2015 winter break.

But so far only 118 of 1,440 schools in Peshawar have been able to properly implement the new measures and reopen. Additional financing is urgently needed for scale-up, particularly for those schools and communities most at risk

The rigorous, 15-point best practices plan released today, which is built around global experience and expertise, is designed to ensure schools are safe for all children.  The report was produced in collaboration with the Global Business Coalition for Education, a coalition of private sector businesses working to deliver quality education for all of the world’s children and youth.

The report is intended to complement and support current government activities and serve as a basis for a framework to build school and community-based interventions to promote Safe Schools alongside support from the international community.

 The proposal includes:

 *  Community engagement to establish peace zones in and around schools

 *  Negotiations with religious leaders to promote education

 *  Establishing a community watch system

 *  Individual security plans for every school

 *  Setting up of rapid response units

 *  Installing state-of-the-art communication systems

 *  Creating special plans for schools in high-risk areas

In the wake of the recent attack in Peshawar, the Pakistani province of Punjab responded rapidly with a set of security measures to prevent future attacks on schools, as did other government authorities. These measures address many critical aspects of school infrastructure and defence in the most high-risk areas.

However, the 15 best practices proposal is a full framework for a comprehensive and integrated approach to protecting all schools by involving communities, empowering school staff and protecting children physically and psychologically from the threat of attack.

Mr Brown said: “One answer that helps educational institutions to stand up to terrorist violence and counter it is to designate our schools as safe schools and make them more secure. It is only by taking measures such as those in the 15-point plan that we will reassure parents and pupils that everything is being done to counter extremist threats.”

Prime Minister Sharif said: “The recent tragedy at Army Public School Peshawar in Pakistan has yet again brought into focus one of the many manifestations of terror. The ruthless and inhuman murder of 146 schoolchildren and teachers also indicates the variety of challenges that we confront as we strive to bring safety to our children at schools. The safe school initiative of Gordon Brown is perhaps the first targeted programme which will go a long way in helping us to achieve this target.”

UNICEF Pakistan has also been promoting school safety, working with partners on programmes such as the Pakistan Safer School Project – a four-year disaster risk reducation initiative funded by USAID and operating in three provinces. Another, the Education in Emergency Programme, has trained teachers in camps for internally displaced people about disaster risk reduction.

In Nigeria, the first Safe Schools Initiative, launched by the UN Special Envoy with A World at School, the Global Business Coalition for Education and the Nigerian government, following the kidnapping of 276  Chibok schoolgirls, has leveraged $30million from business, the Nigerian government and international donors resulting in a government initiative and a United Nations multi-donor trust fund for Safe Schools. In the first phase of activities, Safe Schools interventions are now in place in many schools and 2,400 of the most at-risk students from three states hit hardest by Boko Haram’s terrorist activities have been enrolled in safer schools.

Later this year further steps will be taken to protect schools. The draft Lucens Guidelines have been drawn up with the aim of better protecting schools and universities from use by armed groups for military purposes and to minimise the negative impact that armed conflict has on students’ safety and education.

These guidelines, supported by several countries including Norway and Argentina, and championed by the UN Special Envoy, will result in a “Safe Schools Declaration” later this year with concrete guidance to states and non-state armed groups for the planning and execution of military operations to schools and education from attack.

But for now, Pakistan is the priority. Members of the Pakistan Working Group of the Global Business Coalition for Education as well as donors engaging in the Local Education Group are being asked to identify how they can contribute to this national effort to promote best practices for creating safe schools.

Through these efforts, a comprehensive and well-financed Safe Schools Initiative will reassure families and children that education is safe and provide a bold step forward in the achievement of universal education in Pakistan.

Statement from the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education

A multi-million dollar global initiative aimed at helping protect millions of schoolgirls from violence will be launched this week following a devastating new UN report. 

The next phase of a Safe Schools plan will be unveiled in the wake of the Human Rights report, which claims schoolgirls and boys have been under attack in 70 countries over the past five years.

The study, from the Human Rights Commissioner of the United Nations, challenges us to take urgent action, showing that the previously-reported terrorist violence against schools that have gained worldwide attention – the Peshawar attack which killed 139 boys in December and the Boko Haram assault in Nigeria when 220 girls were abducted  – are the tip of the iceberg.

Later this week, a blueprint for safe schools in Pakistan, highlighting community and school based best practice, will be produced by A World at School and launched by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown following conversations with Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan.  The guidelines will complement and support the existing measures undertaken by the Pakistani government, which were quickly rolled out following the Peshawar attack to improve school safety. 

The UN Special Envoy launched the Nigerian Safe Schools Initiative following the kidnapping of the girls of Chibok in May, 2014. These initiatives are part of an effort to create a Safe Schools movement from Nigeria and Pakistan to DRC, Afghanistan and beyond where education for girls and boys must be safeguarded and protected. The Pakistan blueprint comes just after the Geneva-issued report has discovered that schoolgirls and boys have faced nearly 10,000 individual attacks on their educational institutions in the past five years including murder, arson, kidnapping and intimidation against girls, simply for wanting to go to school.

In 2012 alone there were, 3,600 separate attacks against educational institutions, teacher and schools. This past week, schools in Afghanistan were under attack as gunmen in Haska Mina first went to a girls’ school, tied up watchmen and set off bombs in the school’s office. In a second attack at a nearby boys’ school the gunmen launched an armed assault on a classroom. Numbers of casualties have not been confirmed.

Starting in 2010, when girls were abducted form their school buy the Somali extremist group Al-Shabaab, the Human Rights Commissioner has documented how children, fearful of violence in their school precincts, are refusing to go to school. And parents, worried that their children are no longer safe in school, are failing to send them there.

And then, says the Human Rights Commissioner, out-of-school girls fall prey to child labour, early child marriage and child trafficking. Out of school they are far more vulnerable to being exploited, sold into slavery or abused.

Safe Schools interventions help educational institutions stand up to terrorist violence and make schools more secure by providing fences and boundary walls, creating safety plans, providing communications links with police and security forces, and implementing community-based initiatives to promote safe schools.

It is by taking measures such as these that we will reassure parents and pupils that everything is being done to counter extremist threats.
The draft Lucens Guidelines have been drawn up with the aim of better protecting schools and universities from use by armed groups for military purposes, and to minimize the negative impact that armed conflict has on students’ safety and education. These guidelines put forth by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack and supported by many countries – and championed by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education – will result in a “Safe Schools Declaration” later this year with concrete guidance to states and non-state armed groups for the planning and execution of military operations to protect schools and education from attack. 

In Nigeria, the Safe Schools Initiative, launched by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education with A World at School, the Global Business Coalition for Education and the Nigerian government, following the kidnapping of the Chibok school girls, has leveraged $30 million from business, the Nigerian government and international donors resulting in a government initiative and a United Nations multi-donor trust fund for Safe Schools.  In the first phase of activities, Safe Schools interventions are now in place in many schools and 2,400 of the most at-risk students from three states hit hardest by Boko Haram’s terrorist activities have been enrolled in safer schools.

Between 2011 and 2012 there were 105 attacks on schools in Pakistan. In the wake of the tragic massacre that took the lives of over 130 innocent children and more than 10 teachers in Peshawar, the Pakistani Government has already begun to direct educational institutions to take additional security measures.  The guidelines, which serve as the basis for a comprehensive framework, highlight 15 best practices to complement these efforts.


Photo Credit: Vicki Francis/DFID

Press Release: Pakistan PM Backs International Effort for Safe Schools

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has agreed to support an initiative aimed at helping deliver Safe Schools in his country.
The proposal, first put forward by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, follows December’s massacre of 132 young students at their college in Peshawar. It was the worst school atrocity of all time.
Prime Minister Sharif and former British Prime Minister Mr Brown spoke at length last week and both agreed that every effort should be made to keep schools safe and open for girls and boys and to not interrupt their education. Businesses, foundations and aid agencies are being asked to support the Safe Schools efforts in Pakistan.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Sharif said :”While appreciating the continuing commitment of  Gordon Brown to the cause of education and universal enrolment across the world,  PM Sharif reiterated his personal commitment and resolve to work with him in addressing a challenging situation for school education and security of school-going children in Pakistan.”
Mr Brown revealed that he will look for additional international support for school infrastructure, such as boundary walls and telecommunications that link schools to authorities as well as community-based school safety programmes. Parents and pupils need to be reassured that everything is being done to secure their safety.
The first Safe Schools Initiative was launched by the UN Special Envoy following terrorist group Boko Haram’s abduction of 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria. A fund has so far mobilised $30million from business, the Nigerian government and international donors and a multi-donor trust fund has been established at the United Nations.
Nigeria’s initiative focused on school and community interventions, with special measures for the most at-risk and vulnerable children. It aims to build better school fortifications, link schools to police stations by mobile telecommunications and create community security groups promoting safe zones for education consisting of teachers, parents, police, community leaders and young people themselves.  The first set of schools have received safe schools interventions and the first cohort of the most at-risk girls have been relocated to government schools in safer regions of the country.
The Peshawar massacre by Taliban gunmen on December 16, sparked worldwide outrage and led to a global petition.
It read: “To the Prime Minister of Pakistan, leading donor countries and world leaders:
To honour the children killed in Peshawar, we, the world’s youth, teachers, parents and global citizens appeal to our governments to keep their promise, made at the United Nations in 2000, to ensure all out-of-school children gain their right to education before the end of 2015. We are standing up to bring an end to the barriers preventing girls and boys from going to school, including forced work and early marriage, conflict and attacks on schools, exploitation and discrimination. All children deserve the opportunity to learn and achieve their potential. We are #UpForSchool.”
It has so far been signed by 1,500,000 people.
Mr Brown said: “In the year 2015 every boy and girl should be at school, safely, and no one should be prevented from an education. We cannot stand by and see more children too afraid to learn and schools shut down.
“Even in the world’s most dangerous places we must now establish the right of all children to schooling and make a new idea of ‘education without borders’ a reality.”

Press Release: Gordon Brown Calls for Global Emergency Education Fund

United Nations Education Envoy Gordon Brown has called for a global emergency education fund to be established for children who are out of school because of conflict, disease or natural disasters.

The former UK Prime Minister said: “We need an emergency fund for education when there are humanitarian crises. 

 Brown lambasted governments for not committing enough aid money to Syrian child refugees in Lebanon. $100million has been pledged to help install a country-wide double-shift system but the total needed is still $163million short.

“Lebanon has agreed to find educational places for these children,” Brown said.

“The teachers have been persuaded that they should be taught in Lebanese schools. The teachers have agreed to do double shifts. But the international community has failed to see that for a dollar a day it could provide schools and educational opportunity for all refugee children.”

“We should not have to wait more than a year for help to come when we have a plan and could act immediately. A child needs hope and education and a future.”

“From Gaza and Iraq to Colombia, South Sudan and Thailand, refugees and internally displaced children all deserve hope and opportunity at the onset of a humanitarian crisis. Education cannot wait.”

At the World Bank Spring Meetings in April, Mr. Brown will reiterate the call for ministers to commit more resources to an emergency education fund and he hopes to formally announce its setting up at an Oslo education summit in July. 

Read more at Project Syndicate here.

Statement From Gordon Brown on Boko Haram Attacks

Gordon Brown said:

“It is time for the whole world to condemn Boko Haram’s evil use of young girls as suicide bombers to carry out their murderous attacks.

In the first incident on Friday, a bomb strapped to a schoolgirl exploded in the centre of Maiduguri, Borno state, killing at least 20 people. Then on Sunday two girls simultaneously blew themselves up in a market in Potiskum, Yobe state, killing 3 and injuring over 40.

“These children have been exploited and abused we must do everything in our power to protect others who might be forced into becoming suicide bombers committing ever more violent and shocking atrocities.

“As we approach the first anniversary of the kidnapping of the Chibok girls from their school we must resolve to do more to ensure children are in safe schools and not victims of senseless acts of war.”

Statement From Gordon Brown on Release of the ASER Annual Report in Pakistan

I would like to congratulate Baela Jamil and all of the staff and participants on the fifth anniversary and launch of the ASER Annual Report for Pakistan. This trailblazing report has been instrumental in bringing to the forefront issues of out-of-school children and quality of education and learning in Pakistan.  I am particularly pleased that this year’s report has taken the innovative leap to include special consideration for children with disabilities.

ASER is the largest citizen-led, household-based initiative in Pakistan, working at the grassroots level to collect data, spur a national conversation and instigate action on education. This year the report reflects the realities of over 279,427 children in 165 Districts, 4,698 rural villages and urban blocks and 93,093 households across Pakistan. 

The statistics paint a bleak picture about the realities children face, which we all must work together to change.  One-fifth of rural children are out of school – and 15% have never seen the inside of a classroom. Girls are constantly the victims of discrimination with enrollment levels hovering at about one-third in public and private institutions in rural Pakistan. Moreover, we learn that even after reaching class three, the vast majority of children still are unable to read a simple story in their native language.

What I find inspirational about the ASER report is that it is not just a report – but instead a call to action across the nation.  Through the household surveys, a quarter of a million individuals in Pakistan signed the “Up for School” petition calling upon governments and international leaders to work together to ensure that the right to education is realized for every child.  The data in this report fuels local and national discussions about the quality of learning, exclusion from education and the lack of investment in our children that must be changed if we desire bright futures for the children and youth of Pakistan.

With the turn of the New Year and the launch of the ASER report, I hope that 2015 will be a year of action for children’s right to learn in Pakistan and across the globe.  I hope you will join the participants of the ASER report and stand “Up for School.”

Statement by Gordon Brown on Pakistan School Attack

Statement by Gordon Brown United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education 

Speaking from Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he is visiting schools and meeting children,

Gordon Brown said:

“We are already mourning a human tragedy of monstrous proportion that will bring grief to every school in the world.

“No child should expect that when he or she goes to school that their lives are at risk.

“No parent should have to fear that when their child leaves home for class that they should never return.

“The whole world will be shocked and heartbroken at the massacre in Peshawar that has destroyed so many innocent young lives.

“Prime Minister Sharif has called the attack a national tragedy and our thoughts are with families and school friends. Our hope is that emergency assistance can come immediately to those who are injured.

“We must remain resolute in saying that no terrorist group can at any time ever justify denying children the right to an education and we will do everything in our power to support the Pakistan authorities and make sure their schools are safe and protected.

“It has never been acceptable for schools to be places of conflict and for children to be subject to violence simply because they want to learn. Education is opportunity and hope for building nations.

“Too often innocent girls and boys have become targets for terrorists who want to deny children the right to education and schools have become theatres of war.

“No one has the right to deny a boy or girl their education and we will stand alongside the parents and the children against the Taliban‘s refusal to recognise every child has the right to education.” 

Five Million Not at School Because of Ebola

Gordon Brown has written a foreword to a new report on the Ebola crisis, ‘Ebola Emergency: Restoring Education, Creating Safe Schools and Preventing Long-term Crisis’ , which calls for the rapid reopening of schools to help five million children denied learning because of the disease.

It reveals that victims of Ebola stretch far beyond those infected, with millions of boys and girls shut out of classrooms across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as education becomes one of the first casualties of the crisis. The report, published by the Global Business Coalition for Education in collaboration with A World at School, calls for the immediate and responsible reopening of safe schools before the crisis spirals further out of control and the long-term impacts become impossible to reverse. Read the foreword in full below.

Ebola Emergency – foreword by Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education

As the world watches the Ebola crisis unfold, the day-to-day reality has created nightmarish suffering in West Africa. Since March 2014, more than 14,000 people have contracted Ebola and more than 5,100 people have died. The impact of this outbreak has taken a resounding toll on communities already vulnerable or marginalized − the poor, the rural, the illiterate, women and girls. And like most emergencies, education has been one of the first casualties. Nearly 5 million children have been forced out of school in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In the face of this immense suffering we have seen brave displays of heroism as local and international communities have united together in what has become a global effort to fight Ebola. This mobilization of large multilateral organizations, NGOs, the private sector and faiths communities has led to lifesaving acts of courage spanning the most remote of corners.

With children out of school indefinitely, Ebola threatens to reverse years of educational progress in West Africa where literacy rates are already low and school systems are only now recovering from years of civil war. If we do not address our failure to deliver this basic human right in emergencies, millions of young people, those far beyond the borders of the three affected countries affected will continue to shoulder the burden of our inaction.

We must act to provide visionary solutions to mitigate the looming social and economic challenges ahead. Education is the only solution that affords the realization of hope and opportunity while saving lives in the short- and long-term.

The leadership of the Global Business Coalition for Education’s call to prioritize (1) immediate interim education solutions, through the use of new technology, television and radio, (2) responsible reopening of safe schools as quickly as possible and (3) the establishment of emergency plans are all critical pieces of a serious global education response to Ebola.

We must work together to implement comprehensive education strategies to bring the outbreak under control in the short-term and prevent greater social, economic and health crisis for children, families and communities. I encourage business, governments and individuals to heed this call to action.

Statement from Gordon Brown: Youth Up for School Launch in Kenya

“I am pleased that youth from across Kenya are standing ‘Up for School’ and marking the Africa-wide launch of a new campaign to raise awareness of the need to get every child in to school and learning. Shining Hope for Communities, led by Kennedy Odede, is taking on a strong leadership role in the mobilisation of young people in Kenya as we enter the final stretch of our campaign to achieve universal education for all children. By coming together, one person, one signature at a time, we can join our voices across all continents in an undeniable call to action to eliminate child labour, child marriage and discrimination against children, especially girls, so that every child can reach his or her potential through education. I am “Up For School” and hope all Kenyans will join us.”

Statement From Gordon Brown on Chibok Girls

Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, who has visited Nigeria and worked for the release of the girls, said:

“We remain desperately concerned about the Chibok girls who, after six months of captivity, must be freed soon.

“The good news is that we have been told they are safe but we cannot rest satisfied until all are able to return to their homes and their families.”

Statement from Gordon Brown on Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi Nobel Peace Prize Win

“Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi are the world’s greatest children’s champions. They are two of my best friends and two of the greatest global campaigners who deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for their courage, determination and for their vision that no child should ever be left behind and that every child should have the best of chances.

“Kailash’s life-long work in India fighting child labour – which I have had the privilege to see at first hand complements Malala’s work standing up for girls’ rights to education from Pakistan to the rest of the world.

“Both are members of the emergency coalition for global education that Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela’s widow and I have the honour of chairing and their deep-seated commitment to children’s rights will ensure that no injustice can last forever. 

Brown Plea For Gaza Schools

25 August 2014

Gordon Brown has called for financial support to help rebuild the destroyed schools of Gaza and ensure children can go to school.

The UN Special Envoy for Global Education was speaking as it was revealed that more than 200 schools have been wiped out in air strikes and tens of thousands of children are now being forced to live inside classrooms, their family homes in ruins.

Children were due back for a new term today but the system has been thrown into chaos.

Mr Brown said: “For millions of children around the world a new school year is beginning but for thousands of children in Gaza, there is simply no school to go to.

“These schools must be rebuilt and quickly. No child of conflict should be deprived of their education.”

Photo Credit: UNICEF

Press Release: UN Special Envoy Joins Celebrities, Youth, Business Leaders and More Than 100 NGOs in #EducationCountdown Campaign

18 August 2014


United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown today (Monday) announces the official launch of the #EducationCountdown campaign marking the 500-day point until the end of 2015.
World leaders made a promise in 2000 that every child would be in school and learning by 2015 but with exactly 500 days left before the deadline, progress on getting children in to school has stalled. 
Now hundreds of young people across the globe in more than 85 countries have spurred a movement, alongside 100 NGOs, civil societies, teachers, faith-based organisations and businesses and led by A World at School, demanding the right to education for the remaining 58million out-of-school children.
Progress has been made since the vow was made. At the beginning of the year 2000, almost 115million children were out of school. Now, with the clock ticking, global leaders have to respond rapidly if the goal is to be achieved.
Speaking on the eve of World Humanitarian Day, former UK Prime Minister Mr Brown said: “Today we officially launch 500 days of action aimed at helping millions of children go to school and learn.
“We have set our initial targets and a movement is forming across the globe. Youth, faith leaders, businesses, NGOs, civil society and teachers are uniting to build pressure for change. This undeniable force for action will deliver results for our children.”
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon will mark the 500-day countdown by meeting with education campaigner Malala Yousafzai at the United Nations in New York.
Pop stars, film stars and politicians are also throwing their support behind the countdown.
Award-winning singer and songwriter Shakira said: “We have 500 days to make a real difference. Help us spread the word to get children out of the street and into the classroom.”
Chinese pianist and UN Messenger of Peace, Lang Lang said: “The key to peace and development in the world can only be achieved through education. Let us, therefore, unite all of our efforts.”
The business community has also joined in the global groundswell of support led by the Global Business Coalition for Education. Chief Executives Aliko Dangote and Strive Masiyiwa are just two of the high-profile individuals supporting the campaign.
The next stop for the campaign is the United States where hundreds of young people representing all countries will descend upon New York City in September kicking off the week of the United Nations General Assembly to demand the right to education be realised by the Presidents and Prime Ministers attending the annual meeting at the United Nations.


Special Envoy for Global Education on International Youth Day

On International Youth Day, I am moved more than ever by the powerful voice of the 1.2 billion young people across the globe who are boldly taking a stand in calling for the protection of the right to education. This year’s theme of mental health reminds us of the need for inclusion of every single child in the reaching her or his full potential through education, particularly those with disabilities and the 28 million out-of-school children living in conflict areas in need of education and psycho-social support.

From global vigils held in support of the Chibok girls to the Youth Takeover of the African Union, over the past several months young people have been the unrelenting voice delivering the message that they will not longer be denied opportunity. In my role as the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, I am continually inspired by the courage of these young girls and boys who continue to demand their right to education, even in the face of great personal risk.

As we begin our final 500-day push to fulfill our promise of universal education, I look forward to working with young people and the UN Special Envoy for Youth as we support our future leaders by ensuring that every child has the opportunity to go to school and realize her or his true potential.

Call For Youth Courage Award Nominations

The Office of the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education is pleased to announce a call for nominations for the 2014 Youth Courage Awards. The inaugural set of Youth Courage Awards were announced at the United Nations, on Malala Day in 2013, honouring 6 young people who had demonstrated leadership and extraordinary courage in the fight to get every child into school and learning, often in the face of tremendous odds and personal risks. This year’s awards will recognize and honor youth who have, through their personal stories and work,  demonstrated courage, leadership and effective action in support of MGD2.


Awardees will be announced at a special Youth General Assembly that will be hosted on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on 22nd September 2014 in New York.


We invite partners to nominate outstanding young people aged 14-29 years. To submit a nomination, please fill out the online form here. The deadline for submissions is Friday August 29th.  

Statement from UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown

“We have yet again seen another day in which 15 civilians, including children, have been killed in a UN run school compound in Gaza.
Since the start of the conflict more than 133 schools have been shelled or suffered collateral damage. This includes 49 government schools and 84 UNRWA schools. 
This attack emphasises the urgent need for both parties to end the militarisation of schools and to recognise that the violation of schools and schoolchildren is outlawed by the international community. 
Schools should not be targeted nor should weapons be stored in them. We must protect these places of learning. 
The international community must now adopt and enforce the Lucens principles. This would write into military manuals that schools are to be seen as safe havens for children not theatres for the execution of war.” 

Statement by United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown

“The bombing of the UNRWA school in Gaza and the death of innocent children will be seen as an international outrage which will sadden millions throughout the world. 
“Schools should never be theatres of war but should be safe havens for boys and girls. 
“As the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has said, schools, and the education of children, must never become instruments of armed conflicts”

“With 120 schools affected since the start of the emergency, I urge all countries to adopt and implement  the Lucens guidelines to prevent the military use of schools in conflict areas and to ensure greater protection for the civilian use of education establishments.”

Photo Credit: © UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0912/El Baba

Vigil to Mark 100 Days of Captivity for Chibok Girls

Vigils are to be held around the world for Nigeria’s 200 kidnapped girls of Chibok on 23 July – exactly 100 days after their abduction from school.

After more than three months in captivity, the vigils will be staged at the same time in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the United States.

A new online petition by A World at School will also call for the safe return of the girls and all messages of support will be passed to Chibok community leaders and families of the girls.

The petition will also be sent, by United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown,  to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The Chibok Girls’ families are also expected to sign the petition and offer their full support for the Safe Schools Initiative.

The Safe Schools Initiative – a fund set up to pilot 500 safe schools in northern Nigeria – is a programme that brings the Nigerian Government and Nigerian business leaders together with the international community to ensure that all children are secure when learning. The fund total currently stands at $23million.

Vigils will be held in several African countries organised by the Global March against Child Labour, in Pakistan by Baela Jamil of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, in India by Kailash Sakharti’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan and across the world by A World at School’s Global Youth Ambassadors.

Mr Brown, who will start his  new term as Special Education Envoy this month, said: “We, of course, hope that the Chibok girls will be released before July 23, however, by marking the 100th day of the abduction of the girls, kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists, and by pledging never to abandon them, we are reminding people that we are in the midst of a global civil rights struggle.

“Girls’ rights should be taken seriously and they should have the right to be at school free of intimidation and violence. We will mark the 100 days by pledging to rebuild their Chibok school and by calling for international support for safe schools across Nigeria.”

World Refugee Day: Syria’s Children

By Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education

Today is World Refugee Day. And today the world is facing a catastrophe that has displaced and exiled more people than the Asian Tsunami of 2004 and the Haiti earthquake of 2010.

For over three years 160,000 Syrians have been killed in the civil war, 2.7million have left Syria and 6.5million are exiled in their own country. In over half the country’s population have been forced from their homes.

It is true that the pace of change in the Middle East has become so bewilderingly fast that amidst the abductions and executions, the bombings and burnings, and the exodus of refugees and the starvation of communities, humanitarians everywhere are struggling to see what they can do to make a difference.

But there are immediate practical and relatively inexpensive steps we can take to help the most v vulnerable victims of a crisis that is not their fault- the child refugees who are pouring into Lebanon and surrounding countries from war torn Syria.

But that is only the start – these already horrific numbers are due to rise in the coming year, with the refugee population spread across the region rising to 4million 20 per cent of Syrians will soon be outside their country, the largest group of refugees, more than 1million, are now in Lebanon, a country which had a population of 4million three years ago.

Now with half a million Syrian children in their country one third of Lebanon’s school age population are Syrians. They are becoming the lost generation- not just thrown out of their own country, poor homeless and at risk of disease – but also excluded from school, job prospects and what matters as much for a young life – hope.

Education is one very practical and immediate humanitarian gift that can be made to help these Syrian children and heed the calls of 50 of the world’s top anti-poverty advocacy groups and international institutions that ‘Education cannot wait.’

Some children now aged seven and eight, have never spent one day in school. Others have started but not finished their education and the evidence is that once out of school for months and then years it is almost impossible to get them back.

On best estimates they are likely to spend at least 10 years away from their homes in camps or temporary shelters.

Of course they need food when starving, shelter when destitute, medical drugs when faced with the risk of polio – and our international effort to provide these is being stepped up – but they also need hope. Hope that there IS a future worth preparing for. If they are not to lose their childhoods – a time that can never be relived and a loss that can never be replaced – the one sure way to deliver hope is by ensuring they can resume their education.

Amidst this backdrop of despair, there is, incredibly, a plan. It puts existing Lebanese schools throughout the country on double shifts, offering one set of classes by day, another by evening, and thus all refugees spread across the country can now have the chance of schooling. And because we are spared the expense of building new classrooms and schools, the annual cost is an astonishingly economic five pounds-a-week per pupil.

It is being acted out in embryo in a small village in the north of Lebanon with the help of a small Edinburgh based charity which has been offering finance and supplies for the refugees. In the morning Lebanese children are taught in English and French and in the afternoon Syrian children come to school to learn in Arabic with the help of Syrian exiled Syrian teachers. The system is working it is, with both communities ready to overcome ancient enmities to assist each other.

The plan that would cover the entire community of excluded Syrian children – a school ‘timeshare’ to cope with an emergency – can be operational within weeks. This week the Lebanese Education Minister will make an impassioned plea for his nation and its people. One of the world’s smallest countries, Lebanon has been left to shoulder the biggest burden of the crisis and it is unable to cope without international support. The burden they now bear is the equivalent of 15million refugees arriving on the shores of the United Kingdom.

Having put himself on the line to sell this plan to a divided population many of whom want to throw out the Syrian refugees, he is asking why so much of the world has yet to support the plan.

The world is slowly listening – 89,000 Syrian children are now in public schools in Lebanon and 36,168 children (50 per cent of girls) have also benefited from non-formal education with a further 15,577 children receiving psychosocial support. However, around 260,000 Syrian children are estimated to remain out of school.

The USA, Norway, Denmark and the UAE have backed the shift school plan, which would cost $195million a year to secure schooling if we cover all the children. It is money that will be well spent.

But with a $100million shortfall just weeks before the new school year begins refugee children desperate for education are unlikely to have school places available for them. I know from my own experience that every single child is precious, every child special, every child unique -and every child deserves a chance to flourish. But an important principle is also at stake too.

More than 100 years ago, the Red Cross established the principle that the right to health care transcends borders. Now we can establish that even in war zones children can study. Some good can yet emerge out of the ruins.

Syrian girls study in a camp in Lebanon. Picture: ©UNESCO/L. Addario 

Brown’s plea for Chibok girls on Day of The African Child

Gordon Brown has urged the world to remember the kidnapped girls of Chibok on the Day of The African Child.

Two months after 287 girls were kidnapped from their school the UN Special Envoy for Global Education has also praised young people around the world as they mobilise to demand education for all.

The Day of the African Child, June 16th, honours the memory of students who were massacred in Soweto in 1976 for protesting against education inequality in Apartheid South Africa. The African Union designated the day in 1991 and every year events are organised to promote children’s rights.

Young people, schools, teachers, and faith groups from across the world will unite and dedicate the Day of the African Child 2014 to the delivery of quality for education and safe schools.

On Monday, 100 events will take place in 45 countries. A flagship event is taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where an assembly of youth from across the globe will host a ‘Youth Takeover’ of the African Union deliver a call to action to world leaders.

Brown said: “Young people throughout the world have dedicated today, Day of the African Child, not only to education, but in solidarity with the 287 school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

“Thousands of people have come together united with one cause: safe schools for every girl and boy.

“While the global community has failed to deliver safe schooling, young people are demanding safe, quality schools for all children everywhere and stand in solidarity with the northern Nigerian girls of Chibok and all those around the world who face these struggles.”

Alongside the Addis event there will be a youth takeover of Rio de Janeiro City Hall, attended by Mayor Eduardo Paes and several members of his cabinet and a youth takeover of the Capitol Building in Liberia. Film screenings, art workshops, marches and many other events are taking place around the world from Nepal to Pakistan, Columbia to Yemen.

The public can contribute to safe schools and to the rebuilding of the Chibok school by visiting

Photo Credit: UNICEF

“Global education faces crisis with decline in aid” warns UN Special Envoy

“Global education is facing a crisis following a ten percent cut in aid just at the moment the international community needs to step up efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals,” said Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, in response to today’s announcement that aid to basic education has fallen according to the UNESCO Global Monitoring Report (GMR).

Brown said:

“With 57 million children out of school and just over one year to reach our global goal of universal primary education, we cannot stop our efforts and I urge the donor community to do more to support education.

The new UNESCO GMR figures reflect the aid scenario leading up to 2012 when we launched the Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative.   It is now time for the global community to demonstrate that because of the new global push for universal education, we are seriously responding to the crisis with concrete financing pledges and commitments to enroll more children into school. 

The replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education in two weeks time is a first opportunity to do this. We must support the GPE to reach its $3.5 billion financing target and help 29 million children go to school during the next financing cycle.

The plight of Syrian refugee children, the desperate need for safe schools in Northern Nigeria as made clear by the kidnapping of the girls of Chibok, and the important work necessary from Pakistan to South Sudan to get all children in school make it clear that now is not the time to scale back and give up on the world’s children — it is the time to recommit and scale-up.”

Photo Credit: Global Partnership for Education

Statement by Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education

Today, the United States government has announced the deployment of 80 members of its armed forces to Chad to help in the search for the kidnapped schoolgirls of Chibok, Nigeria.


I welcome the decision by the White House to support the search in Northern Nigeria and surrounding areas to help us “Bring Back Our Girls.” I am pleased that further action is being taken by the US government to assist President Jonathan and Nigerian authorities to locate the schoolgirls.


No child should be go to school in fear of threat or attack.  We must ensure that as a global community we do all we can to locate these girls, make schools safe and ensure the right to education for all girls. 

Gordon Brown Pushes Education to the Top of the Trade Union Agenda

21 May, Berlin

Gordon Brown called on international trade unions to join the 500-Day Countdown for Global Education, supported by the Emergency Coalition for Education, to achieve zero child labour, zero child marriage, zero discrimination against girls and zero exclusion in education.  

Speaking to the 1200 trade union delegates meeting in Berlin, Mr. Brown made an impassioned plea to unite around a movement in support of the civil rights struggle to provide education for all in the wake of Boko Haram’s recent attacks on Nigerian schoolgirls.

Read more here.

Press release: Gordon Brown invited by Nigerian President to play lead role in keeping schools safe

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, has been invited by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to play a lead role in the Safe Schools Initiative. 

Mr Brown will work with Nigerian officials on the plan, which was launched in Abuja on May 7th. The initiative, based on a report produced by A World At School, is a response to the growing number of attacks on education, including the kidnap of 270 girls last month.

Nigerian business leaders from the Global Business Coalition for Education, together with the Nigerian government have committed $10 million each to a fund to promote schools as safe spaces. The UK government also supports the plan and the fund total is now over $21million.

Starting with 500 pilot schools in northern states, the Safe Schools Initiative will build community security groups. The groups will promote safe zones for education, consisting of teachers, parents, police, community leaders and young people themselves.

In the longer-term, the initiative will work in partnership with Nigerian authorities to ensure protection for schools, train staff as school safety officers and provide school counsellors. It will help schools create security plans and work with the government to develop a rapid response system to quickly repair and rebuild school buildings and replace destroyed educational material.

Mr Brown said: “We must ensure that schools are safe for young people to learn and thrive.  No child should go to school without knowing that their schools, communities, teachers, parents and religious leaders are doing all they can to ensure their protection.  And parents must know that we are doing all we can to make schools safe.

“This weekend I told the President that the initiative can be up and running in a matter of weeks. I also assured him that the international community can be marshalled to support the plan so we can cover as many vulnerable schools as possible.

“We are now working with experts from all over the world – including UN agencies in Nigeria and UNICEF experts who have implemented similar programs in other countries – to develop operational strategies to secure schools in the north that are most at risk.

“None of us can stand by and endlessly witness schools being shut down, girls cut off from their education, and parents in fear of their daughters’ lives.  The education system that has the potential to transform Nigeria cannot be undermined by threats of violence.

“I have sent a letter to the African Union in support of the Day of the African Child on 16 June. I have pledged that on this day I will stand in solidarity with the girls of Chibok.

“We will not stop until every girl and boy is in school, safe and learning.”


Read the Safe Schools Initiative report

Donate to the Safe Schools Fund

Take action

Press Release: Children Dedicate Day to Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls

15 May 2014

Millions of children across the world will dedicate a special day to the kidnapped girls of Chibok.

Day of the African Child on June 16th will see events in 100 countries as young people come together to ask for safe schools in Nigeria, where the girls were abducted, and universal education across the globe.

Youth, faith groups, schools, teachers and activists will hold special events and are asking the public to sign up and participate.

Over 250 girls were abducted a month ago in the northeast of Nigeria by terrorist group Boko Haram. This shocking event has captured the attention of the international community as the world tries to understand how this could happen. Young people are taking matters into their own hands and are challenging governments to take action for education.

A flagship “Youth Takeover” event will be held at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A Youth Assembly will be held with young leaders delivering calls for action to African leaders. On the day prior, a Youth Run will take place – a community race through Addis Ababa symbolising the fact that we are running out of time to get every child into school and learning.

Events are already planned in nearly 20 capitals with Youth Takeovers of Parliaments and gatherings outside Nigerian embassies in support of safe schools.

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education said: “The Day of the African Child on June 16th will be dedicated to supporting the Chibok girls and to ensure that all children are safe when they are at school.”

500 A World at School Global Youth Ambassadors have been activated as well as members of the Youth Advocacy Group of the Global Education First Initiative.

The Day of the African Child, which is observed every year on June 16th, honours the memories of students who were massacred in Soweto in 1976 for protesting against education injustice and inequality in Apartheid South Africa. The African Union designated the day in 1991 and every year events are organised around the continent to promote children’s rights.  We continue this campaign, as necessary now as it was then, in their memory.

Statement by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown: “Nigerian Government joins Safe Schools Initiative with $10million commitment”

Mr Brown said:
“Today I met with President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian Government has committed $10million to the Safe Schools Initiative – a programme to make sure children are protected when at school.
“More than 270 girls were abducted from a school in Chibok three weeks ago. The terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility. The international community as a whole is supporting the Nigerian government’s determination to bring back our girls. 
“Because this is a problem that crosses national boundaries President Jonathan and I talked about an international partnership.
“We agreed that with global support, the priorities would be to first work together to locate the abducted girls, second to make all schools safe and third to give every Nigerian child the opportunity of education.
“We will work with the Nigerian Government over the next few weeks to develop a plan to get all of Nigeria’s 10.5 million out of school children into safe learning environments
“The Safe Schools Initiative established with the Nigerian business community, offered a $10 million starting donation, now doubled by the Nigerian Government. It has the support of the international business community through the Global Business Coalition for Education, which has circulated the call to action to the multinational members for support
“Concerned members of the public can give to the Safe Schools Initiative to ensure that schools in Nigeria are safe for girls and boys to attend.
“I believe that in the wake of these tragedies we are now firmly at a turning point for Nigeria where if the decisions are made to invest in education for girls we can radically transform the country’s schools system over the next two years making it accessible and safe.
“Today, US, UK, Chinese, and French support is being mobilised by the Nigerian government to locate the girls. I spoke to the US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday asking him to extend the search into Cameron and Chad due to fears that the girls may have been dispersed across Africa.
“I was able to pass on messages of support from hundreds of thousands of members of the international community directly to President Jonathan.
“With many people asking what they can do to help, it is important for the safety of millions of girls and teachers in Nigeria that we take action to make schools safe in order to prevent and deter further terrorist action.
“The government of Nigeria and the United Nations will work to develop a new education plan to make it possible for the 10.5 million girls and boys who are not at school to have the chance of attending safe schools.
“I am confident that I can raise finance from agencies across the international community to help Nigeria achieve a turning point in the delivery of educational opportunity to girls. Our aim is that in the next two years, the 5 million girls who are not at school will be given the chance to enter education and be taught in safe environments.”


Watch the World Economic Forum on Africa closing press conference


Watch the Safe Schools Initiative Report
Visit the Safe Schools Fund

Statement by Gordon Brown from WEF Africa

The thoughts and prayers of the whole world are with Nigeria’s abducted girls and their parents as they face their fourth week in captivity.

Three weeks ago I asked for international support to rescue them. Thanks to John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, and William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary, with whom I have talked in the last 24 hours, the US and UK governments have agreed to send specialist teams to support efforts in Borno state to locate the kidnapped girls. 

And today, the business community in Nigeria, supported by the Global Business Coalition for Education, has come together with the creation of a new fund to create safe schools and to prevent terrorists from forcing children out of school. 

We cannot stand by and see schools shut down, girls cut off from their education and parents in fear of their daughters’ lives. The education system that has the potential to transform Nigeria cannot be undermined. The Safe School Initiative will put Nigeria on track to help more and more girls and boys go to school and learn.

Starting with a 500-school pilot programme in northern states, the Safe Schools Initiative will focus on school and community interventions, with special measures for the most at-risk and vulnerable children. The initiative will build community security groups to promote safe zones for education, consisting of teachers, parents, police, community leaders and young people themselves.

This initiative is part of our work to give every girl and boy in Nigeria the opportunity to go to school. In the year 2014 every boy and girl should be at school and no one should be prevented from an education.  

Photo © World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

Press Release: Safe Schools Initiative Launched

7 May 2014

For Immediate Release: Safe Schools Initiative launched at World Economic Forum in Abuja, Nigeria to protect the right to education

  • Safe Schools Initiative launched by Nigerian business leaders in partnership with government, media, civil society, youth, parents and teachers through the Global Business Coalition for Education
  • $10 million fund to be set up to pilot 500 safe schools in northern Nigeria following the kidnapping of more than 200 girls last month
  • UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown visits Nigeria for announcement and pledges support of international community; will seek additional resources from international partners and the government to scale up safe schools
  • A World at School Youth Ambassadors say that young people must have a voice in education and will not be frightened or deterred from pursuing their futures
  • #BringBackOurGirls movement continues to build; over 400,000 people have now signed a petition to make schools safe places

A coalition of Nigerian business leaders, working with the UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown, the Global Business Coalition for Education and A World at School launched, a “Safe Schools Initiative” at the World Economic Forum in Nigeria in response to the growing number of attacks on the right to education, including the kidnapping of more than 200 girls last month.  As part of the growing movement to “Bring Back Our Girls,” the initiative is an initial $10 million fund, challenging matching investments by the government, to promote schools as safe spaces.

Starting with 500 schools as the pilots in northern states, the “Safe Schools Initiative” will focus on school and community interventions, with special measures for the most at-risk and vulnerable children. The initiative will build community security groups to promote safe zones for education, consisting of teachers, parents, police, community leaders and young people themselves.

In the longer-term, the initiative will focus on bolstering the physical protection of schools, providing school guards and police in partnership with Nigerian authorities, training staff as school safety officers, providing communications tools and school counselors.   The initiative will also work to help schools create school security plans and work with the government to develop a rapid response system so that even when faced with attacks, response units are set up to quickly repair or rebuild, and destroyed education material is replaced.

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, is set to meet with President Jonathan this week and will take a plan from the international community to partner with Nigeria for the largest school expansion in the country’s history to get out-of-school children into school.  A petition with already over 400,000 signatures will be delivered later this week to President Jonathan showing international support for creating safe schools in Nigeria so that every girl and boy is able to go to school and learn. 

The Global Business Coalition for Education will solicit more corporate partners to support the expansion of safe schools in Nigeria to protect the right of children and young people to go to school and learn.  

“One of Africa’s greatest assets is its young people who will drive its future development. The Safe Schools Initiative can help Africa unlock their potential and in this light, could be seen as a crucial intervention,” said Saadia Zahidi, Head of Gender Parity and Skills Initiatives, World Economic Forum.

“Inclusive growth means building for the future. The Safe Schools Initiative is a public-private partnership that will help protect our greatest asset, our young people, by giving them a safe environment where they can acquire the skills they need to realize their full potential,” said Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, ThisDay Media and President, Newspapers Association of Nigeria.


Photo © World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell 

Press Release: Brown’s Fears for 200 kidnapped Schoolgirls

UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown will meet Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja next week.
Mr Brown says: 
“I have arranged to meet President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja next week to express our fears about the fate of 200 schoolgirls who have been abducted and offer the world’s support as he endeavours to secure their safety.
During my visit I will meet young people who, despite the recent carnage perpetrated by Boko Harem to close schools, are determined to stand up publicly for the right of every Nigerian child to go to school. 
I will offer support from the international community to the parents of the kidnapped schoolgirls of Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, who are still missing. Despite a frantic search for them I understand the fears that the girls will either be used as sex slaves or be murdered. 
We know that Boko Harem, whose name means western education is a sin, have not only taken their murderous, terrorist outrages to the heart of Abuja where 70 were killed two weeks ago but have been willing to burn and bomb pupils when they are at school.
Last Thursday, the distraught parents of the missing girls held a press conference and made it clear that the true number of abducted girls was 230.
I am asking the international community to help the Nigerian army track down the jungle camp where the girls are being held. And in addition to ensuring the right of girls to go to school we must make schools protected places.”

Statement on Recent School Attacks in Nigeria

April 15, 2015

It is time for the world to wake up to the dangers being faced by girls and boys who simply want to go to school in Nigeria. Earlier today, over 100 girls were abducted in an attack on a school in northeast Nigeria.  A few weeks ago, over 40 children were murdered in an attack on their school.

The abduction from the school in Chibok, Borno State, follows the bombings yesterday, which killed more than 70 people in the capital, Abuja.

The attacks are blamed on the same group, Boko Haram, whose name means, “Western education is forbidden.”

The threat to children who simply want an education has led to hundreds of deaths in the last three years.  Massacres of innocent boys and girls are not uncommon.  This year alone, the group’s fighters have killed more than 1,500 civilians, hundreds of them children, in three states in northeast Nigeria.  Boko Haram condemns what they say is a “Western-style education,” and its militants frequently target schools and educational institutions.

Approximately one dozen girls escaped last night’s attack. Running in the bush and wandering until daybreak, they returned to Chibok to find over 170 houses burnt down from the attack.

We will support the Nigerian government to ensure that violence against children is stopped and all Nigerian boys and girls have the right to go to school safely.

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education

Global Leaders and Celebrities Team up to get 57 Million Into School

A high-powered group of global leaders, campaigners and celebrities will today join forces to get 57 million “lost” children into school.

The Emergency Coalition for Global Education Action – convened by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown – will be announced at a 2015 Countdown Summit to pressure the international community to take action on behalf of children everywhere. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will also address the summit during the launch of the Emergency Coalition. The summit will take place in Washington DC.

The launch comes in response to the news that the international community could fall short on the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG2) to get all children into education by 2015. If the current pace continues it will be 2086 before all children are in school and learning.

The Emergency Coalition, which will include singer and songwriter, Shakira and actors Jude Law and Goldie Hawn, has deemed this to be unacceptable and is demanding the international community take action now.

Speaking in front of an audience of NGO executives, policy leaders and grassroots campaigners at the Summit, Mr Brown will call the situation “unacceptable from a moral, economic and global security perspective” and he will stress that domestic governments and NGOs must be pushed to honour their commitments to out-of-school children.

He will say: “If we continue at the current pace it will be 2086 before all 57 million children currently not learning have access to education. We made a promise to children worldwide that they would be in school by 2015.

“We must now put education on the international agenda in a way that cannot be ignored. Together we will tackle the key barriers to education – child marriage, child labour and discrimination against girls.”

Ban Ki-moon will say: “‘Today we launch the Emergency Coalition for Global Education Action – a group of prominent youth leaders and many others from around the world who are coming together to work even harder to accelerate progress until the end of 2015 to ensure all girls and boys are in school.

“I am especially grateful for the leadership of my UN Special Envoy for Education, who has brought us together today for this event.  I thank him for his unwavering fight for children everywhere. And I also thank Mrs Sarah Brown for her support for global education through A World at School’s campaign.”

Shakira said: “The Emergency Coalition for Global Education is challenging society to see how many kids we can get into school by the end of 2015. We have 500 days to make a real difference. Help us spread the word to get children out of the street and into the classroom.”

The summit is organised in collaboration with A World at School and more than 100 civil society partners working to accelerate progress for children across the world.

Sarah Brown, Founder of A World at School, will unveil a network of 500 youth ambassadors from 80 countries who are to work internationally to promote learning for all. The ambassadors, including education campaigners Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz who were caught up in the Pakistan gun attack on Malala Yousafzai, will be lobbying governments for change, getting involved in local projects and trying to raise the profile of what is now a full-blown education emergency.  The youth campaigners will announce a June Takeover of the African Union on the Day of the African Child to highlight need for urgent action for education.

A Global Faiths Coalition for Education will also be announced at the summit.

The summit will culminate with a shared plan of action for a 500-Day Countdown campaign which will highlight important areas representing the key barriers to education.

More than 75 companies have now signed up to support education through the Global Business Coalition for Education.

Members of the Emergency Coalition include:

  • Raj Shah, Administrator, US Agency for International Development
  • Alice Albright, CEO, Global Partnership for Education
  • Strive Masiyiwa, CEO, Econet Wireless
  • Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson, Global March Against Child Labour 
  • Aliko Dangote, Chair, Dangote Group and Founding Member, Global Business Coalition for    Education
  • Jim Wallis, Founder, Sojourner
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  • Ricken Patel, Executive Director, Avaaz
  • Fred van Leeuwen, General-Secretary, Education International
  • Goldie Hawn, Actress and Founder, The Hawn Foundation
  • Jude Law, Actor and Ambassador, Peace One Day
  • Isha Isatu Sesay, Anchor, CNN International and HLN
  • Shakira, Singer and Songwriter, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Founder, Fundación Pies Descalzo
  • Mabel van Oranje, Chair, Girls Not Brides
  • Lang Lang, Concert pianist, Founder of Lang Lang International Music Foundation

Discovery Communications – parent company of the Discovery Channel will also be announced as media partners in the 500-day countdown campaign.

The Dangote Foundation will also be announced as a partner in the campaign alongside other partners, including Dubai Cares.

Press Statement following Special Envoy’s Visit to Pakistan

A financial program to help Pakistan’s 6.7 million out-of-school children get an education was announced today by Gordon Brown with a $500 million boost for education, bringing the total global investment in education in Pakistan to more than $1 billion over the next three years.

The United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education pledged that as Pakistan’s government doubles its education budget – from two to four per cent of GDP – the global community will partner with Pakistan in financing the biggest education expansion in the country’s history.

The government’s commitment will inject an additional $4.6 billion annually into the education system. When implemented, the project could exceed the targets in Pakistan’s Accelerated Plan of Action, developed with the United Nations, which aims to educate five million out-of-school children by 2015.           

The announcements took place at an Education Conference in Islamabad with Prime Minister Sharif and later at a youth rally with 1,000 girls gathering together to demand the right to education.

Mr. Brown said: “The aim is not just to get children into school but also to ensure learning opportunities for more than 55 million people over the age of ten who are illiterate in Pakistan.” 

“The large expansion of learning through the government’s investment will help to support opportunity for the Pakistani people.”

Ministers from all of the provinces have agreed to adopt and implement Article 25-A of the Pakistani constitution, making education free and compulsory for all. The support for education was also urged to extend to the 620,000 Afghan refugee children, of whom only 5 per cent complete education.

Alice Albright, CEO of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is also part of the visiting delegation. GPE is in the final stages of reviewing a $100 million application to support the education plans of Sindh and Balochistan in Pakistan. The United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Dubai Cares, and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah’s Educate A Child initiative are also all contributing to support education for out-of-school children in Pakistan.

The UN Special Envoy encouraged the government to support the right to education. He said: “The government must also take a strong stand on the cross-cutting barriers, including child labor and child marriage, to ensure all children, especially girls, are in school.  At a youth rally with 1,000 girl campaigners, I announced the introduction of Pakistan’s first child marriage free zone, led by by Baela Jamil, Director of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA).” 

“Today, I also met with business leaders where we agreed to develop a business-led innovative financing fund for education in Pakistan.”


The Office of Gordon & Sarah Brown was established to support the Browns in their work and to facilitate their ongoing involvement in public life. Gordon Brown is the UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon and former UK Prime Minister. Sarah Brown is a global campaigner for women and children’s health and education. Please visit their website for up to date news, perspectives, and information on their work.

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A World at School is new digital mobilisation initiative working towards achieving global education. The organization was created to provide a digital platform to coordinate campaigns, share information and forge collaborations. Please visit A World at School for the most up to date news, stories, and resources on global education promotion.