Aid doubled to £1bn for African schools

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Indy Politics

British aid to promote education in Africa will be doubled to £1bn a year, Tony Blair announced as he urged the world's richest nations to deliver on the promises made at last year's G8 summit. Mr Blair used a speech at King's College, London, to call on campaigners to maintain the pressure generated in the run-up to the Gleneagles summit.

Campaigners have accused G8 nations of backsliding on the pledges made at the summit.

Yesterday the Prime Minister said that the next month would be "crucial" in deciding whether world leaders can break the logjam in international trade negotiations to free world markets for the developing world. He also pledged urgent work to develop international agreements on reducing carbon emissions to stimulate investment in clean technology to combat climate change.

Mr Blair said the Department for International Development budget for education would increase to £1bna year by 2010, and promised efforts to improve secondary and higher education as more children receive primary education.

He said: "This will help to give at least 22 developing countries the predictable funding they need to invest in ambitious long-term strategies to get all children into school by 2015."

Ministers hope their high-level Africa Progress Panel, co-chaired by the UN secretary general Kofi Annan, will help maintain political pressure on the G8 states to deliver on the promises made at Gleneagles.

On trade Mr Blair said he wanted to secure a deal cutting agricultural subsidies and giving developing nations access to international markets. He will write to world leaders this month setting out proposals aimed at breaking the deadlock in trade negotiations. He said: "The coming month will be critical. Failure would not only be a blow for the poor but the whole idea of multilateralism."

A White Paper will be published next month, outlining wide-ranging reforms of British aid policy. On climate change Mr Blair said Britain needed to build international agreement within the next 12 months on targets for stabilising carbon levels in the atmosphere.

He said: "We need to begin agreement on a framework that the major players - the US, China, India and Europe - buy into and has at its heart a goal to stabilise temperature and green house gas concentrations. And we need to accelerate discussions - we can't take the five years Kyoto took to negotiate.

"I believe a clear goal and a strong framework would help spur the technology revolution we need."

Campaigners welcomed Mr Blair's commitment to setting up a panel to chase progress towards the aid goals, but warned that progress on a trade deal was needed to fulfill promises to make poverty history.