Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : Chancellor and Sir Edward George pledge more money for Commonwealth Education Fund [September 2002]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 24 September 2002.

Chancellor Gordon Brown, and Governor of the Bank of England Sir Edward George, today announced the auction of low-numbered £5 banknotes, the proceeds of which will go towards the Commonwealth Education Fund’s work in supporting education programmes in Commonwealth countries.

Sir Edward and the Chancellor made the announcement at the Commonwealth Education Seminar held earlier in the day, prior to the formal opening of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers meeting in London. The seminar, which included speeches from the Chancellor and James Wolfensohn, the President of the World Bank, was designed to highlight the role that Finance Ministers can play in implementing Education Plans as part of their development strategies. Speakers from the Commonwealth Education Fund, of which Sir Edward George is the chair, also spoke about the Fund’s work alongside partner Governments in developing Commonwealth countries.

The Chancellor said, “We have spoken today about the importance of education in the fight against poverty, and the need to work together to fulfil our obligations to those children who are still without hope for a better future. I am very pleased that the proceeds from this auction will help provide strategic support to developing Commonwealth countries, both to improve the implementation of their education plans, and to strengthen accountability to parents and children. This is in addition to the Government’s commitment to help developing countries enrol an extra 20 million children into primary school by 2006”.

Speaking at the Education Seminar, the Chair of the CEF Sir Edward George said:

“I am delighted to be involved with the Commonwealth Education Fund (CEF). This is a tremendously exciting project, combining both public and private contributions to help provide universal access to primary education in the Commonwealth. Education is the foundation of economic progress for both individuals and for society as a whole, whether at the national or global level.

Improving education and access to education is a fundamental step in securing economic prosperity and business competitiveness in any economy. The Bank will itself be able to contribute to the CEF the net proceeds of an innovative auction of low-numbered £5 banknotes. The details will be announced later this year. We are also looking for private sector contributions to the CEF over the next three years. A number of very distinguished business leaders have joined me on the CEF Oversight Committee and we will shortly be approaching the business community for help and support.”

The Commonwealth Education Fund, a partnership between Government, business and non-governmental organisations, was set up earlier in the year by the Chancellor to provide strategic support to the UN goal of universal primary education by 2015. At present 75 million children in the Commonwealth go without any kind of formal schooling.

The Fund is jointly administered by ActionAid, Oxfam and Save the Children, and marks the year of Her Majesty the Queen’s Golden Jubilee as Head of the Commonwealth.

The UK is committed to the Millennium Development Goal of primary education for every child in the world by 2015. The Commonwealth Education Fund will work in 17 of the poorest Commonwealth Countries to help fund education and school infrastructure.

Since 1997 the Department for International Development, has committed over £700m to universal primary education.