September 16, 2010

Gillibrand Announces New Legislation To Create Better Education Opportunities In Developing Countries, Build Stronger Global Economy

Education for All Act Improves Assistance to Poorest Nations, Creates Opportunities to Educate Children in Need

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today announced the Education for All Act of 2010, legislation to help achieve universal quality basic education, improve the lives of women and girls, and help strengthen the global economy, creating jobs here and abroad. The legislation is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY).

Senator Gillibrand announced the legislation ahead of next week’s United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit on ending poverty, improving global health and achieving universal education. The MDGs are a set of eight internationally-agreed upon goals – including education for all – designed to halve poverty by 2015.

“Too many children across the world have zero access to even the most basic education,” Senator Gillibrand said. “When countries stricken with poverty have no resources to educate their children, we all pay the price with a weakened global economy and increased violence in areas around the world. As we work to rebuild our economy here at home and ensure our national security, we must also put the right policies in place to improve global productivity and economic opportunity abroad. To get there, the next generation around the world must have access to a good education. This legislation helps deliver aid to build new schools in the poorest countries and train more teachers, creates opportunities for children in need to get a good education, and lays the foundation for a stronger, more stable global economy and secure world.”

According to academic studies, more than 72 million children globally do not have access to a quality basic education, more than half of whom are girls. Data shows that investing in basic education improves outcomes across all development sectors, allowing for foreign aid dollars to go farther. Each year of primary education increases a girl’s earning potential by up to 15 percent. More than 700,000 cases of HIV could be prevented each year if every child received a primary education. Every additional year of schooling reduces an adolescent boy’s risk of becoming involved in conflict by 20 percent.

“On behalf of the National Education Association and our 3.2 million members we commend Senator Gillibrand for her remarkable leadership,” said Lily Eskelsen, Vice President of the National Education Association.  “At NEA, we know that investing in quality education programs is one of the best investments any government can make. You see the returns in health care outcomes, economic growth, sustainable use of resources, and in promoting democracy. But the greatest measure of that investment is the inspiration of young minds around the world. Investing in young minds today means investing in the future for all of us. We are five years away from the commitment to achieve universal basic education and we are way behind schedule. We cannot afford to fail.”

“Access to a quality education is not only a fundamental human right, but also a key to stability, democratic governance and economic development for all nations,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “The AFT commends Sen. Gillibrand for her leadership in sponsoring the Education for All  Act in the Senate. This bill, which establishes a Global Fund for Education, is a step toward keeping the promise of providing a free basic education for the 72 million children around the world who do not have an opportunity to go to school.”

The Education for All Act of 2010 amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, declaring it U.S. policy to work with foreign countries and international and civil society organizations to achieve universal basic education by: (1) assisting developing countries to provide all children with a quality basic education, including through strengthening host countries’ educational systems; (2) assisting nongovernmental and multilateral organizations working in developing countries to provide all children with a quality basic education; and (3) promoting education as the foundation for communities’ development, including integrating entrepreneurial and leadership training, economic growth and agricultural activities, and democracy promotion into holistic assistance programs.

Additionally, the legislation directs the President to develop a comprehensive U.S. strategy to promote universal basic education by 2015, and authorizes the President to provide the necessary resources to qualifying foreign countries to create the policies, processes, and infrastructure to develop free quality national basic education programs.

Lastly, the legislation amends the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to establish within U.S.A.I.D. a Coordinator of United States Government Actions to Provide Basic Education Assistance for all in developing countries, with the primary responsibility for the oversight and coordination of all U.S. government resources and international activities to promote universal basic education.

Senator Gillibrand’s Education for All Act has the support of 10 leading education organizations, including the Global Campaign for Education, U.S., The National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, RESULTS/RESULTS Education Fund, Global AIDS Alliance, Global Action for Children, United Methodists General Board of Church and Society, National Peace Corps Association, School Girls Unite, and Connect to Learn – a Global Education Initiative of the Earth Institute, Ericsson, and Millennium Promise.

“Senator Gillibrand is to be commended for her advocacy on behalf of the 72 million children who do not have access to a basic education,” said Joanne Carter, co-chair of the Global Campaign for Education, U.S. and executive director of RESULTS/RESULTS Education Fund. “Investing in quality basic education means a path out of poverty for millions of children and women around the world. This legislation will help elevate education as a U.S. development priority and establish a much-needed Global Fund for Education. The U.S. needs a bold and innovative strategy to help countries achieve universal education and the Education for All Act is a critical step in that process. The world’s children cannot wait.”