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Irish Aid pledges €26 million in campaign for universal primary education by 2015

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Minister of State, Conor Lenihan, today announced funding of €26 million to support efforts for all children to have access to primary education by 2015 - the target date set under the UN's Millennium Development Goals. Increased financing is urgently required to ensure that the 77 million children currently out of school- including 44 million girls - complete their primary education by 2015. Announcing the commitment, Minister Lenihan said:

"We know from our own experience the importance of sustained investment in education and how it translates into long-term economic and social progress.

Education is a core priority for Irish Aid. In 2006, we spent over €50 million on education. This increased financing is a further indication of our commitment to education and keeping our promises under the Millennium Development Goals to educate all the world's children by 2015."

The pledge will be made by senior Irish Aid officials attending an education meeting in Brussels. The meeting has been organised by the European Commission, the British Government and the World Bank, to mobilise promises to deliver on education. It is expected to call for urgent action and an increased commitment to finance education in a longer- term and predicable way.

Note to editors:

The additional funding, €10 million in 2007 and €16 million in 2008, will be channelled through the Education for All - Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) - a global partnership established in 2002 to accelerate efforts to ensure the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education is met.

Low-income countries which demonstrate serious commitment to achieve universal primary education receive support from the EFA-FTI. Recipient countries have agreed to put primary education at the forefront of their domestic efforts, to develop comprehensive national education plans and provide increased domestic resources. Donors provide coordinated and increased financial and technical support in a transparent and predictable manner.