Gordon Brown, the British Chancellor of Exchequer and widely tipped to be the Prime Minister designate of the UK has reaffirmed his strong commitment to educate the children of the poor countries as one of his top priorities in a meeting with former child laborers on the 18th January 2007 in New Delhi. The child laborers had a memorable time with the Chancellor and were floored with his ease and friendliness during the interaction. The Chancellor was accompanied with Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State Gareth R Thomas.
While meeting with 5 former child laborers turned child activists along with Kailash Satyarthi, the Chairperson of Global Campaign fro Education (GCE) and Global March Against Child Labor (GMACL), Mr. Brown said that he and his Government are committed towards education and would do everything possible for ensuring the children missing out of schools do get a chance to be in the classrooms. The Chancellor informed Mr. Satyarthi and the children additional 200 Million GBP being announced shortly by him later in the day towards Education for All programme of the Ministry of Education, Government of India.
Of the five children who met him, 14 year old Om Prakash Gurjar, the International Children’s Peace Prize winner for 2006 said that Mr. Brown should take lead in persuading other countries like United States, Germany and Italy to increase their funds to Education for All. He also reminded to the Chancellor that all British aid to Education should essentially include spending in countries that have a method and strategy in place to bring the hardest to reach child laborers to schools. Mr. Satyarthi reminded the Chancellor that this remains the biggest challenge in Education for All efforts.
Another child, Gulafshan, said that as the representative of the Children’s Assembly in her village, she could bring about a change for the better in the kind of food provided at the mid-day meal scheme in her village. She said innocently-“If I can do this as a child in a small village, you with your great powers could help end child labor and provide education for all children of the world”. Mr. Brown responded enthusiastically to these and several other queries by them.
12 year old Kinshuk Kumar, 14 year old Santosh and Babli were among the others who met with Mr. Brown and spoke to him about ending child labor and providing education for all. Speaking about the close link between child labor elimination and education for all, Kailash Satyarthi said that Global Campaign for Education and Global March Against Child Labor work closely as movement based organizations towards the elimination of child labor and education for all. Also, the biggest Trade Union (Trade Unions Congress) and Teacher’s Unions (Education International) of the world are a part of the movements respectively and work together on both issues. Mr. Satyarthi also informed the Chancellor that establishing better coordination between various ongoing efforts on education, child labor elimination and poverty reduction is the key at the Governmental level and at the level of the UN agencies for any success. Gordon Brown reiterated that his government would take the lead in persuading other developed countries in Europe like Germany and Italy to increase their education outlay during the G8 meeting on April 30' 2007. He recognized the efforts of GCE and especially the work of the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) as having tremendous impact worldwide.