HL Deb 26 January 2005 vol 668 c49WS
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos):

My honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today placing in the Libraries of both Houses copies of Girls' Education: towards a better future for all published today by the Department for International Development (DfID).

At the turn of the millennium, the international community promised that by 2005, there would be as many girls as boys in school. Despite this promise, there are still 58 million girls worldwide who are not in school. The majority of these girls live in sub-Saharan Africa and south and west Asia. A girl growing up in a poor family in sub-Saharan Africa has less than a one-in-four chance of getting a secondary education. The millennium development goal (MDG) to get as many girls as boys into primary and secondary school by 2005 is likely to be missed in over 75 countries. Later this year, when leaders from around the world come together to take stock of the MDGs, there will be no escaping the fact that we have collectively failed to keep our promise.

The paper reminds us of the value of education for lifting people out of poverty and enabling them to build a more promising future for themselves, their families and their nations. Nothing has as much impact on a child's future well-being as their mothers level of education. Educating girls helps to make communities and societies healthier, wealthier and safer. It helps to reduce child death, improve maternal health and tackle the spread of HIV and AIDS. Girls' education underpins the ability to achieve all the other MDGs, which is why the timetable was set as 2005.

This strategy is a first step to get us back on track and it acknowledges that we all need to do substantially more to help girls get into school. To this end, we plan to spend at least £1.4 billion on education in the developing world over the next three years. This money will provide additional support to governments in developing countries to produce plans that prioritise girls' education. This will include providing financial help to those wanting to remove school fees and indirect costs of educating girls. The money will also be used to provide more resources to strengthen international efforts to co-ordinate action on girls' education. We will also use the UK's 2005 presidencies of the G8 and EU and our role as co-chair of the Fast-Track Initiative (FTI) to push gender equality in education up the political agenda and make it a priority for the international community.