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UN envoy: Millions needed for education in emergencies

March 18, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. envoy for global education called Wednesday for a multimillion-dollar fund to provide education for children in emergencies and urged donors to start with $163 million to educate half a million Syrian children who are refugees in Lebanon.

Gordon Brown told a news conference Wednesday that it’s time for decisive action to prevent millions of children from falling through the cracks and losing out on an education.

Brown, a former British prime minister, said there have been more than 10,000 attacks on schools during the past five years and 28 million boys and girls are not in school in areas of conflict and emergency.

He said the growing education crisis reaches from Iraq to Nigeria and from South Sudan to Pakistan.

Brown called for international donors to reach agreement this spring on the new fund. “We have set a deadline for progress at the Oslo Summit on Global Education in July.”

Brown said he and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende are calling a conference on educating Syrian refugee children in Lebanon in Washington on April 16, with support from Lebanon’s education minister. The $163 million is needed to operate a double-shift system in Lebanese schools which will enable the Syrian youngsters to return to class, he said.

Brown said he hope that this idea could be expanded to Jordan, Turkey and other countries with large numbers of refugee children. He also called for stepped up efforts to make schools safe.

Brown announced a new partnership between the public and private sector starting in Pakistan where 1,000 schools will take part in a pilot program using state-of-the-art technology and simulation software to assess the level of risk preparedness against attacks. Each school will receive specific recommendations to improve safety, he said, and plans will be announced shortly to extend the initiative to South Sudan, Lebanon and Congo.

Brown also called for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria nearly a year ago and 89 schoolboys who were taking exams in South Sudan.

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