HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 cc109-11W
Jeff Ennis

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) when he expects to announce the details of the scope and distribution of the Commonwealth Education Fund; [38816]

(2) what calculations he has made (a) inclusive of tax relief and (b) exclusive of tax relief of the cost of the Commonwealth Education Fund; [56394]

(3) if the Commonwealth Education Fund will be applied to a fund separate from DFID's budget; [56438]

(4) what representations to United Kingdom industry the Treasury has made in relation to the Commonwealth Education Fund; [56391]

(5) who the trustees of the proposed Commonwealth Education Fund will be; [56392]

(6) for how long the Treasury expects the Commonwealth Education Fund to be operational. [56393]

Mr. Boateng

The Government launched the Commonwealth Education Fund (CEF) on 12 March to mark Her Majesty the Queen's Golden Jubilee year. The CEF will help Commonwealth developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in education, so that by 2015 every child will be able to enrol in and complete primary school, and by 2005 gender equity in enrolments can be reached.

At present 75 million primary school-age children in the Commonwealth do not attend school.

Since 1997 the Government have committed over £650 million to support the development of sustainable, quality primary education systems, mainly in Commonwealth sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

Under the chairmanship of Sir Edward George, the Governor of the Bank of England, the CEF will raise resources from business and individuals to support this objective. The Governor is currently working with the administering NGOs to establish the formal umbrella board of the fund, determine trustees, and will make a number of representations to UK industry over the course of this year.

The CEF will have three financing windows: (i) A strategic fund that will be administered jointly by ActionAid, Oxfam and Save the Children. This will be the largest element of the CEF. The strategic fund will strengthen the capacity of low-income Commonwealth countries to ensure that the poorest and most marginalised children are able to enrol in and complete good quality primary education. Activities will cover three broad areas: Strengthening civil society participation in the design and implementation of national and local education plans and frameworks. Particular priority will be given to supporting initiatives that can accelerate progress towards gender equity in education; Enabling local communities to monitor Government spending on education, both at the national and local levels; Supporting innovative ways for civil society to ensure that all children, especially girls and the most vulnerable and disadvantaged (including street children, former child soldiers and nomadic children) are able to access quality education. The Government will provide a grant of £10 million to kick-start the fund. In addition moneys raised in 2002 by business for the CEF will be matched by the Government pound for pound (including tax relief). Funding from the CEF will commence from mid-2002 and be made available over three and a half financial years, ending in December 2005 (coinciding with the gender equity Millennium Development Goal). The strategic fund will concentrate on low-income Commonwealth countries identified by ActionAid, Oxfam and Save the Children as being seriously under-resourced in relation to education provision, and in which one or more of them has existing capacity to provide support to local organisations and to monitor and evaluate outcomes and impact. The potential 17 countries are: Bangladesh, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. (ii) The Government will also match, pound for pound (including tax relief) funds raised for primary education in Commonwealth developing countries through Comic Relief's 'Sport Relief'. Comic Relief will manage these funds independently, and they will disburse funds via UK based NGOs. The Government will expand its work to develop links between schools in Commonwealth developing countries and the UK. to raise awareness and understanding of international development issues and strengthen the global dimension in the life and work of schools.

The CEF will be separately administered by the three NGOs according to a framework agreed with Government. The Government's £10 million endowment and matching funds will be channelled as a grant to the NGOs through DFID, whose existing budget will be increased accordingly. The precise cost of the matching funds will not be known until the end of 2002. Tax relief can be claimed by corporate donors and Comic Relief (in respect of donations from private individuals) at the appropriate tax rate.

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