Gordon Brown 'not pitching for IMF job'

Gordon Brown today denied that his involvement in a new drive for education in the developing world was part of a "pitch for a job" as chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The former prime minister told the BBC that "any candidate to head the IMF needs to be appointed on merit".

He was speaking in South Africa, where he is launching a new High Level Panel on Education with an appeal to the rich world to fund schooling for millions of children in the poorest countries.

Speculation is rife that Mr Brown has his eye on the managing director's post at the IMF, vacated by former head Dominique Strauss-Kahn after his arrest in the US on sex charges.

But Labour's ex-premier is regarded as an outsider after Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne made clear they would not back his candidacy. And his own former City minister Lord Myners has suggested it should go to someone from outside Europe.

Mr Brown launched a report warning of an "education emergency" in the developing world, which if left unchecked will undermine efforts to cut poverty and boost economic growth.

And he unveiled the high-profile membership of his new High Level Panel on Education, which will meet for the first time in July, including Nelson Mandela's wife Graca Machel, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and Queen Rania of Jordan.

Mr Brown's report - Education For All; Beating Poverty, Unlocking Prosperity - warns that the international community is "slipping backwards" on its millennium pledge to get all of the world's children into education by 2015, as 67 million remain out of primary school.

A renewed commitment to education would boost economic growth in the poorest countries by 2%, lift 104 million people out of poverty and save the lives of 1.8 million African children, the report estimates. Every pound spent on education has the potential to generate £10-£15 in growth.

It calls for the wealthy countries of the G8 and G20 to: donate 3-4 billion US dollars (£1.8 billion-£2.5 billion) a year to the new Global Education Fund; front-load aid to train teachers and build classrooms; link African schools to the information superhighway; and launch a campaign for a million new teachers.

Mr Brown, who will present his report to the G8 in France next week, said: "It is frankly intolerable that, at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, and in the midst of an increasingly knowledge-based global economy, millions of children are denied the right to a basic education.

"With Graca Machel and other prominent panel members, we will work hard to raise the issue right to the top of the international poverty agenda. Delivering on the promise to get all children into decent quality education by 2015 is not just a moral imperative, but also sound economics."

Summing up his appeal, he added: "You don't break promises to children."

Mrs Machel said: "Education will unlock the doors of poverty for millions of children, but sadly investment in this sector has not been matched by promises.

"The evidence of change that it brings to health and economic development are clear for all to see. The work of the panel will be to pour light on the education dividend so that getting children through school sits higher on the world's development agenda."