Gordon Brown has made an impassioned call for the international community to make education a higher priority and deliver a co-ordinated plan to achieve universal primary education by 2015.
The former UK prime minister wants to create a "global fund for education" to raise the pound;13 billion per year needed to bring lessons to the poorest children.
There are 68 million children in the world missing out on primary education.
The global target of providing access to a primary school education for all children by 2015 was one of the millennium development goals set out by the United Nations and world leaders at the beginning of the century.
But Mr Brown has warned the target is set to be missed, with progress slowing rather than accelerating.
Last week he published a report setting out the case for a global fund for education which would inject finance and energy and become a "game- changer" in the flagging bid to bring a basic education to all children.
The groups of children who are missing out are concentrated geographically - in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia - but they are also characterised by other inequalities, such as girls not receiving the same opportunities as boys.
His report calls for a more effective way of targeting such problem areas.
"Cameras never capture children going hungry for want of education, or lives devastated for want of learning," he said.
The proposed education fund echoes the type of public health initiatives which systematically target a disease or a health problem with a clearly- defined outcome.
An independent global fund would seek to raise more funds from "non- traditional" donor countries, such as China and Russia, he said.
At the World Innovation Summit for Education in Qatar, he called on technology entrepreneurs to contribute to such a project.