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Developing world needs 15 million more teachers

Activists from 115 countries will next week be campaigning for 15 million more teachers for the developing world.

The Global Campaign for Education says the teachers are needed to ensure that 100m children can go to primary school.

The campaign was buoyed up by last week's announcements by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, and Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary.

UK aid to education will be stepped up from pound;2 billion over the past decade to pound;8.5bn over the next. That puts last year's announcement of pound;1.4bn over three years in the shade.

The commitment to a decade of funding should help developing countries invest in training teachers and building schools. Uncertainty about the flow of aid money has made planning hard.

The task now is for the UK to demonstrate that the aid will go to fund plans for primary education and adult literacy in the countries most in need of support and most committed to reform. There is a mechanism for ensuring that happens - the World Bank-inspired Fast Track Initiative - but while Britain has been the second biggest donor, spending on it has been generally low so far.

Unesco's national commission in the UK is calling on Britain to set an example by stepping up its pound;17m annual funding, a tiny share of its overall aid to education so far, and persuading its fellow G8 members to follow suit.

The second announcement by Mr Benn is the pledge to more than doubleJspending on global school partnerships from an annual pound;1.7m to pound;2.5m a year over the next three years.

The aim is to quadruple the number of UK schools involved in partnerships - from 370 to 1,500 - with a similar rise in the number of linked schools in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Unesco's national commission hasJcalled for a national effort on linking.

It wants support structures put in place to ensure that the joint curriculum projects and sharing of teacher expertise that follow from links enrich learning and professional development at both ends of the partnership.

The commission has also called for special funding for teacher-training institutions to form partnerships and support fast-track emergency training programmes for countries with dire shortages of teachers.

Aid commitments are critically important, but by co-operating with peers, individual teachers and trainers can make a difference too.

Brendan O'Malley To find out more about linking and the TESHSBC Awards, visit www.tes.co.ukMake_the_Link. Got an interesting link story to tell? Email Make_the_Link@tes.co.uk

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