Former Australian PM Gillard to head push for global education

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was named on Monday to lead the Global Partnership for Education, which is working to help get some 57 million children into schools.

The international initiative is made up of nearly 60 developing countries, donor governments, international organisations, teachers, the private sector, and civil society groups. It was established in 2002 to coordinate a global effort to provide a quality education for children.

In the statement announcing her position as chair of the group's board, she said she was alarmed by a recent sharp decline in donor support and that with "57 million of the world's children still lacking access to a basic education and 250 million children unable to read, write or master simple math, there can be no higher priority". The 57 million figure is based on 2011 data, according to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Ms Gillard was ousted as prime minister after three years by her party in June and left politics in September. She has been writing her memoirs and in October 2013 was named a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for Universal Education by the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution.

Her experience in global education includes co-chairing United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group in 2012 and 2013. She focused on universal primary education and gender equality and female empowerment.

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