Yesterday in New York, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard helped launch the UN's 'Education First' Initiative.
It’s a great honour to be champion of Secretary-General Ban’s Education First Initiative.
This is a very significant tribute to Australia’s work to improve education in developing countries through our aid program.
There’s a reason universal education is second only to ending hunger in the Millennium Development Goals.
In my discussions with the Secretary-General, I’ve told him that for my country, improving education is a great national priority – one we want to share with our neighbours and partners in the world.
And for me personally, education is the great passion that brought me into public life, and I want to share the story with you today.
Recently my beloved father passed away.
He was a bright boy who grew up in a family of seven in a Welsh coalmining village.
His family knew great hardship and even though my father won a scholarship, he had to go to work at 14 to help put bread on the table.
He died at 83 but his lifelong dream of a higher education was never fulfilled.
My sense of injustice has never dimmed, and I am deeply saddened that John Gillard's story is a story lived out in homes and villages all across the world today – especially in the global south.
Bright kids who don't have a chance parents who send their children off to work knowing it's not the best thing for the future.
As members of the international community, we can help end that.
Education is vital to prosperity for nations and to opportunity for individuals it is the ultimate means of a civilised life for every person.
I am delighted to join my fellow Education Champions who are determined to put education first.
The Prime Minister has been co-chairing the annual meeting of the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group, and has announced that her personal priorities for advocacy will be promoting access to quality education, and achieving gender equality.