HC Deb 29 March 2000 vol 347 cc331-2
7. Fiona Mactaggart (Slough)

What progress she expects to be made at the education summit in Dakar; and if she will make a statement. [115436]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short)

The world education forum in Dakar in Senegal will take place at the end of April. I will lead the UK delegation. Our objective is to obtain a strengthened commitment from developing country Governments and international agencies to achieve effective primary education for all children by 2015. That is an achievable objective, and there is clear evidence that getting a generation of children educated, including the girls, is the single most powerful development intervention that a country can make.

Fiona Mactaggart

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. May I take advantage of the fact that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is sitting next to her to ask her whether she can make Britain the champion of universal primary education? We have a Government who were elected on a platform of education, education, education, yet around the world the numbers of children in primary education and of literate people are falling. Can we lead a worldwide campaign to ensure that by 2015 everyone in the world learns to read and write?

Clare Short

As a Government, we are attempting to do that very thing. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has this week given a commitment to try to lead a campaign to make sure that Africa is not bypassed by information technology, and he has made a link with an appropriate company to try to ensure that such technology is brought to Africa and used more effectively in teacher training. There is a danger that information technology will bypass Africa—we need to train more teachers to deliver education in Africa, so my right hon. Friend has made that very commitment.

Back to