<!-- IMAGE -->
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
and human rights activist Nelson Mandela once said that "Education is the
most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Indeed, for
many children around the world, education is not merely a road to a better
life; it is a question of survival.
Children of mothers with just a few years of primary education have a forty percent greater chance of surviving into adulthood than do children of illiterate women. And if the mother receives a full basic education, her children are more likely to attend primary school themselves, thus breaking inter-generational cycles of poverty in just one lifetime.
Additionally, education helps turn young people away from violence and extremism. Enrolling boys in primary school decreases the likelihood of civil war as much as seventy three percent.
Ten years ago, most of the world's nations met at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, where they signed the Education For All initiative, thus committing to achieving universal basic education by the year two thousand fifteen.
At that time, one hundred five million children around the world were not attending school. By two thousand seven, that number dropped to seventy two million. Still, according to the latest monitoring report, if that trend continues, fifty six million children will still be out of school in two thousand fifteen.
But the combination of rising poverty and the global economic recession -- and in some instances, lack of political will -- threaten the gains of the past decade. Whereas some of the poorest countries made gains in school enrollment by building new schools, training teachers, abolishing fees and in some cases, even offering free daily meals at school, others have neglected their minority populations, and especially girls.
The United States is among the countries that committed themselves to the goal of achieving universal basic education by two thousand fifteen. In two thousand eight, the U.S. contributed one billion dollars to Education for All, then increasing that sum by half a billion dollars each year, culminating in three billion dollars by two thousand twelve.
The United States remains deeply committed to achieving universal basic education by assisting developing countries, and non-governmental and multilateral organizations working to provide all children with a quality basic education.