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Shakira becomes an education advocate

April 22, 2008|From the Associated Press

LONDON -- George Clooney. Angelina Jolie. Shakira.

Not a red carpet lineup, but a roll call of celebrities the sometimes dour British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has recruited to inject glamour into his appeals to help the developing world.

Brown joined a telephone conference Monday with Shakira, praising the Colombian pop sensation for taking an inspirational role in work to provide a basic education for every child in the world.

The Grammy-winning singer is supporting a week of events to highlight the cause of education advocacy group the Global Campaign for Education.

She said the group is pressing world leaders to provide funding for primary education for 72 million young children who now miss out on schooling as a result of poverty. The group also aims to generate support for some 226 million older children who miss out on classes because of a lack of access to schools, or because of truancy.

Brown is the world's "No. 1 champion of education," said the group's chairman, Gene Sperling, an ex-White House economic advisor to former President Bill Clinton.

Shakira also praised Brown, who as British treasury chief in 2006 pledged $15 billion over 10 years for education in the developing world -- the largest offer of aid from a Group of Eight industrialized nation.

Brown has made work on meeting the Millennium Development Goals -- a set of development standards on education, health, literacy and poverty -- a key plank of his foreign policy.

Brown regularly courts celebrities to lend backing to his campaigns. He held talks with George Clooney this month on violence in Darfur, has worked closely with Bono and Bob Geldof on aid for Africa, and chatted with Angelina Jolie in 2006 on education.

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