UK pledges cash for Commonwealth education, urges malaria fight

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May will pledge cash to help improve children's education in the Commonwealth and call for a commitment from fellow leaders to tackle malaria on Tuesday.

May's government is looking to reinvigorate the Commonwealth, a 53-country network of mostly former British colonies, as it seeks to define its post-Brexit role in the world as a leader of free trade and active global citizen.

Speaking on the second day of a week-long Commonwealth meeting in London, May will switch focus from trade, which she discussed on Monday, to humanitarian issues.

"We need to show the world what the Commonwealth is capable of," she will say according to advance extracts of her speech.

May will commit 212 million pounds ($304 million) to try to make sure children living in developing Commonwealth countries receive 12 years of quality education.

"I want this to be the summit where the Commonwealth agrees to make that the goal for all our members – and begins to put in place the concrete measures that will allow it to become a reality," she will say.

May will speak alongside Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, also touching on the need to reduce malaria deaths, saying around 90 percent of Commonwealth citizens live in countries where the disease is endemic.

Britain is already committed to spending half a billion pounds per year on tackling malaria, and may will urge fellow leaders to target a halving of malaria rates by 2023.

"We cannot in good conscience, talk about the young people of the world, about securing a legacy for our children and grandchildren, without tackling a disease that, worldwide, kills one of them every two minutes," she will say.

($1 = 0.6983 pounds)

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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