Baroness Goudie's contribution at the House of Lords to the debate on the Millenium Goal for Primary Education

Mary 23 june 10 Baroness Goudie: My Lords, talent is universal but opportunity is not. I welcome the Minister's statement that the coalition Government will continue to support the millennium goals. The coalition Government and the opposition need to put pressure on Governments, as did our former Prime Ministers, Mr Blair and Mr Brown. We need to have the political will to do this. Our political will and that of the countries we are trying to assist is important in this regard. We have to put pressure on those countries in many ways. I will not go through the disgraceful World Bank statistics on sub-Saharan Africa, which I have seen many times, but I was disappointed when I looked at them earlier this week. Those countries could assist the girls in their populations if they wished to do so, but they do not. We have to put pressure on them in every way that we can.

I wish to tell noble Lords a story. A friend of mine, Wenchie Yu Perkins, works for the American State Department. Before that, she was a colleague of mine in Vital Voices Global Partnership. She visited a 12 year-old girl in Nepal involved in a Room to Read project who had a scholarship at an elementary school. Her mother is illiterate and makes less than $2 a day. Her father is a migrant worker in Qatar. However, he never sends money home because he is still repaying the fee to the agency and to his employer, who has his passport. The girl lives in a hut-I was sent photos-filled with chickens, goats and small mountains of potatoes. She dreams of becoming a doctor and improving her family's situation. My friend told her to study very hard to become a doctor so that she could make her mother proud. However, as Wenchie says, and as I know, the real problem is whether the girl can finish secondary school before she is married off or sold off to pay for a new roof for the hut. We know that these girls are sold for all sorts of reasons.

I welcome the coalition, but between now and the meeting in September and the other G8 and G20 meetings, I ask it to get our people who work behind the scenes to put together an agenda that can bring about change. This change involves money, auditing that money and getting civil society and Governments to work together, but more importantly it should aim to bring on board the corporate sector working in these countries. That sector is taking away minerals and other products from them but is not giving anything back. It gives back a small proportion of its profits, but not much more than that. I have gone through the CSR reports of companies working in these countries. Pressure must be put on China to give back. We know that some oil refineries in Nigeria and Chad are owned by China. I am not attacking China, I am just saying that we need to put pressure on China. We also need to put pressure on American companies that have taken huge stakes in sub-Saharan Africa but pay small lip service to CSR.

India has been mentioned. Many charities are working in India, putting their money into the Government and civil society. They are educating children before they go to work. We know that, unfortunately, children in rural areas have to work. The charities run a number of schemes through the CAP Foundation which can educate children for £89 a year and can keep a child in school in the mornings. These projects are there. Although the money we send is very important, it is not just about money. Increasingly, we have to audit it, put it through NGOs and other organisations, and see where it is going. Just giving money in flat donations from country to country is not working. The United Nations is full of talk, but it does not actually deliver, because it is not on the ground.

The work of Prime Ministers Blair and Brown should be continued by this new coalition Government-and I am pleased that they are doing so. They should work behind the scenes to get real results and value for money, because I can give many examples of where money is wasted and not used properly.

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