Promoting quality education for all.

Letter to the Editor: Education for All

August 22, 2010

Source: Miami Herald

Re the Aug. 17 story New education system may rise from Haiti's ruins:  The Education for All movement is a global commitment to provide quality basic education for all children, youth and adults. The movement was launched at the World Conference on Education for All in 1990 by, among others, UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank and civil society partners around the world.

Nevertheless, 72 million primary-school-age children around the world will not step foot in a classroom this year. Education is essential to helping children grow up safe, healthy and able to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.

Education discourages sexual exploitation of children (schools offer a haven), reduces HIV/AIDS infection rates and is directly linked to improvements in child survival and maternal health.

However, poverty remains the single largest barrier to education: Prohibitively high school fees, hidden fees, travel to and from school and insufficient numbers of teachers, are just a few of the challenges confronting children pursuing the dream of an education.

Educating girls is especially vital: Studies show that for each additional year they attend school, women/girls receive 20-percent higher wages and suffer 10-percent fewer child deaths. Women with some formal education are more likely to seek medical care, immunize their children, attend to their children's nutritional requirements and contribute to a stable and safe community.

In the United States, free public education is something most of us take for granted. We understand the value of education in preparing a child for the future and a productive role in the community.

In Miami, successful programs like The Early Childhood Initiative and Head Start demonstrate the value of early childhood programs. Primary-school enrollment in African countries is among the lowest in the world. In our own hemisphere, education remains beyond the means of most Haitians. Even though education in Haiti is technically free, the dearth of public schools leaves private institutions as the primary source of schooling. The abolition of school fees around the world will ensure that all children have access to education.

On April 21, 2010, Reps. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Dave Reichert, R-Wash., introduced the Education for All Act of 2010, HR 5117, a bill that seeks to ensure the United States provides resources and leadership so all children have the chance to get a quality basic education. The bill calls for the United States to: assist developing countries in strengthening their national education plans; promote education as the foundation for community development; and work with the international community to authorize the creation of a Global Fund for Education.

The Education for All Act of 2010 is a key step toward ensuring access to school for all children, directly supporting the Millennium Development Goals. If all eight goals are achieved by 2015, including basic education for all children, world poverty will be cut by half and tens of millions of lives will be saved. Funding education is the perhaps the most cost-effective use of our tax dollars, and our global policies should reflect that.


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