On September 7, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 4481, the Education for All Act, by voice vote. This bipartisan bill was sponsored by long-time education champions, and friends of ONE: Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee and of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade. Over the summer, the Senate companion bill, S. 3256, was introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Susan Collins (R-ME).
The next step is for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to pass one of the bills. While it is still unclear which bill, the House or Senate version, will actually be taken up by the Senate, it is important for us to build strong support for it over there now. That means we need every voice from every community across the nation to urge their Senators to cosponsor the Senate bill. Capitol Hill has heard your voice on other pieces of legislation this year and now they need to hear from you again.
We have all seen it before. Conflict, poverty, and political instability have kept millions of young people from accessing education. The headlines have become sadly familiar: the 2012 attack on education activist Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban in Pakistan, and the kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian girls from a school by Boko Haram in April, 2014. And just this past summer, ONE helped to raise awareness about the 3.7 million refugee children who have been uprooted from their homes and have no access to education. Those refugee children are, in fact, just a fraction of the total number of children who never get a chance to be educated. Here are some basic facts that should serve as a call to action:
- Globally 263 million children and youth are out of school; 61 million primary-school-aged children and over 200 million adolescents
- More than 114 million youth around the world cannot read
- Roughly half a billion women around the world can’t read
- Roughly one third of the 93.2 out-of-school youth in sub-Saharan Africa live in conflict areas
What does the bill do?
In order to provide access to education for the more than 263 million children and adolescents who are currently not in school or who do not have access to education because of conflict or political instability, we have to act soon. The Education for All Act would set off a goal of reaching universal basic education, and of improving the quality of that education. It would address the barriers to education by utilizing the expertise not only of the U.S. government, but also Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), as well as other nations, including the affected nations themselves. Specifically, The Education for All Act would:
- Promote quality basic education by working with other countries, multilateral organizations, international and local civil society organizations, and other major donors to help developing countries strengthen their education systems and ensure all children have access to school;
- Require a comprehensive U.S. strategy every five years, whose primary goal is to achieve universal access to quality basic education, with a priority on the poorest and most vulnerable children, including those in conflict-affected areas, and those with disabilities; and
- Promote smarter development by requiring education programs to be measured against outcome-oriented metrics (i.e. how many students can read, instead of how many books were purchased).
- Improve coordination and oversight of the US Agency for International Development’s basic education programs by appointing a “Senior Coordinator” within the Agency who will develop and monitor the education strategy; coordinate policy with other agencies, donors, and international organizations; and report to Congress on program implementation and effectiveness.
Through the Education for All Act, the United States would continue to lead the effort to ensure universal access to quality education. But, passage now depends on you to act.