Zuckerberg to donate 99 per cent of his Facebook shares to improve education

Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire founder of Facebook, has pledged to give 99 per cent of his company shares to good causes, with a particular focus on improving education.

The tech entrepreneur made the announcement on his personal Facebook page following the birth of his son.

Mr Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan decided to make the gesture as they wanted their child to “grow up in a world better than ours today”.

The shares, currently worth $45 billion (£30 billion), will be donated to various good causes over the course of the couple’s lives.

The money will initially be focused on personalised learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.

“Technology can’t solve problems by itself. Building a better world starts with building strong and healthy communities,” Mr Zuckerberg writes. “Children have the best opportunities when they can learn. And they learn best when they’re healthy.

“If you have an unhealthy childhood, it’s difficult to reach your full potential. If you have to wonder whether you’ll have food or rent, or worry about abuse or crime, then it’s difficult to reach your full potential.”

And he added: “By partnering with schools, health centres, parent groups and local governments, and by ensuring all children are well fed and cared for starting young, we can start to treat these inequities as connected. Only then can we collectively start to give everyone an equal opportunity.”

Mr Zuckerberg has already shown an interest in supporting education in his native country, with varying degrees of success. In 2010, he announced on The Oprah Winfrey Show that he was donating $100m to Newark, a failing public school system in New Jersey.

He said at the time, that the money would “turn Newark into a symbol of education excellence for the whole nation”. However, the initiative was dogged by problems from the start with much of the money lost to renegotiating teacher contracts.

The 31-year-old follows in the footsteps of Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, who set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the aims of improving education in the US and healthcare in the developing world.

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