Authors: Lack of financing for global education wastes global talent
Improving education worldwide also boosts U.S. economy and security, they say
Editor’s Note: Rep. Ted Lieu, D-California, is president of the House Democratic freshman class and sits on the House Budget Committee. Hugh Evans is CEO of the Global Poverty Project. The views expressed are their own.
This year, almost 60 million primary school-age children will have no access to school. While the world has made progress to get more kids to school since 2000, the severe lack of financing for global education continues to waste global talent and inflicts a lifelong sentence of poverty for those without an education.
Recent progress in the United States can be measured by funding increases for global education by President Barack Obama; Raj Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development; and Congress – driven by the bipartisan leadership of Reps. Kay Granger and Nita Lowey.
This summer, during the heart of the federal budget and appropriations process, Congress has the opportunity to build on this progress by notably increasing support for millions of children – mostly girls – who are denied the opportunity to go to school.
Congress can and must do more by committing $125 million to the Global Partnership for Education in 2016. After all, lack of access to education is one of the key pillars trapping people in the cycle of extreme poverty. By increasing access to a quality basic education, we can increase opportunities for the world’s poor. And by committing $125 million to the Global Partnership for Education in 2016 – still a microsize drop in the bucket of our nearly $4 trillion federal budget – America has an opportunity to ensure that some 29 million children get a quality education by 2018.
Whether you live in Los Angeles or in Indonesia, a quality education has an incredible effect on children’s lives and futures. With an education, kids are more likely to invest in the health of their families and to develop critical thinking skills that will earn them an income. This is why UNESCO estimates that if all students in low-income countries obtained basic reading skills in school, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty.
In addition, improving education worldwide actually helps American security. An uneducated child grows up to be an uneducated adult, and large adult populations that are uneducated and impoverished are destabilizing for countries and regions. With this in mind, our nation’s security increases when there is more stability in the world.
Improving education worldwide also boosts the American economy. Just one year of primary school increases the future earning potential of a boy in a developing nation by 5% to 15%. The increases for a girl are even greater. Millions more educated children growing up to be educated adults would have a sizable impact on economies in the developing world, which means greatly increased global economic opportunity for America.
This year is a historic opportunity for the movement to end extreme poverty. In September, world leaders will approve the Sustainable Development Goals, which we expect to target education with the objective to give every child 10 years of free quality education. Investing in education is a clear prerequisite to achieving all other sustainable development goals and ending extreme poverty by 2030.
Increasing federal funding to the Global Partnership for Education would help it reach children who are excluded or marginalized because of where they live or factors such as gender, disability, ethnicity, religion or other social barriers. The funding will pull children and families out of poverty and cut the inequality faced by girls and boys living in the world’s poorest countries so that all children can have an opportunity of their own “American dream.”
As Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai explained in an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2013, “In some parts of the world, students are going to school every day. It’s their normal life. But in other parts of the world, we are starving for education. … It’s like a precious gift. It’s like a diamond.”
The United States must do more to help empower communities to lift themselves out of poverty. It’s good for children and good for America.