"Ensuring Education for All" - Comments by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Liz O'Donnell TD
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Liz O'Donnell TD, says over 130 million children worldwide are still denied access to basic education.
Speaking at a conference on "Ensuring Education for All" in Dublin today, Minister O'Donnell said exclusion from education was having a profound effect on mortality rates, on population growth, on people's capacity to make a livelihood, and on the prevention of deadly disease.
She said it also entrenched inequality and had a detrimental effect on the cause of justice, good governance, democracy and equitable economic prosperity.
The Minister said a large portion of Ireland's Overseas Development Assistance budget would continue to be spent on education.
She told the conference, which was jointly organised by Action Aid Ireland, Oxfam, and ICTU, that it was still her ambition to achieve the UN target of 0.7% of GNP by the year 2007.
"A set of proposals is being prepared for Cabinet for consideration which, if agreed, will set out a fresh trajectory to reach the interim target of 0.5%. This year, Overseas Development Assistance is likely to total £190m and an estimated 30% of this will be spent on the basic social sectors, including education. This compares very credibly with most of our European neighbours," the Minister said.
She said she wanted to see increased Government aid channelled through non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
"I want a robust partnership with NGOs in the future and for Ireland Aid to be a democratically mandated, collective endeavour involving the State and all social partners and civil societies," she said.
She drew attention to how NGOs continued the Celtic tradition of spreading learning across the globe.
"From the days of the Celtic monks to today's Celtic tiger, education is synonymous with Ireland. Irish NGOs have been to the fore in making basic education a vital part of life in developing countries".
Minister O'Donnell said promoting better education in developing countries should be just as important to us in Ireland as providing good quality education to our children at home.
"Education is the bedrock of democracy and sustainable human development. In a world where knowledge knows no borders in a global economy, where political tension in one region can send tremors of unease around the globe - Investing in global education helps to ensure Ireland's own stability," she added. Top