Educate the world: A U.S. pledge can bring hope to vulnerable children

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The plight of 200 abducted Nigerian schoolgirls has focused worldwide attention on the obstacles to education faced by tens of millions of girls, especially in poor and conflict-ridden countries.

Basic education ought to be a human right. Without it, a nation squanders the enormous potential of every human being and undermines its economic development, democratic institutions, stability, public safety and health.

To ensure that children around the world can get a quality education, members of Congress and their constituents should push the Obama administration to pledge $250 million over two years to the Global Partnership for Education. That’s chump change in a $3.5 trillion budget — less than it costs to build a few miles of freeway.

The U.S. pledge would help ensure that Global Partnership reaches its goal of raising $3.5 billion from donor governments this summer to help educate 29 million of the world’s most vulnerable children. The pledging conference will take place June 26 in Belgium.

The $3.5 billion, over four years, would leverage an added $16 billion from developing countries, which provide 80 to 90 percent of their basic education funding. By 2018, the money should reduce the number of children not completing primary school from 7.6 million to 4.8 million.

In the past decade, Global Partnership has helped educate 22 million children. But worldwide, more than 57 million children are still denied the basic right to attend school. In Africa, one out of four girls does not receive basic education.

In 2011, the last time the Global Partnership for Education solicited donors, the United States made its first pledge of $20 million. That was a good step, but smaller donor countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands contributed 10 — even 20 times — more. By stepping up now, the United States could show greater commitment to education that children around the world deserve.

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