<!-- 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
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
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