How Can $4 Billion Help Education in Underdeveloped Countries?The 2021 Global Education Summit raised more than $4 billion for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and 19 world governments pledged to allocate a minimum of 20% of their budgets to education. The GPE provides for education in 90 countries and territories, aiming to raise “at least $5 billion over the next five years.” Reaching this goal will allow education in underdeveloped countries to thrive, safeguarding the education of 175 million children and enabling the learning of 88 million additional children by 2025.

The Importance of Education

In developing countries, there is a significant gap in learning and schooling. Roughly 53% of all children in these countries “cannot read and understand a short story by the time they” complete primary education. This rate of learning poverty could potentially rise to 63% without immediate global action. However, despite these statistics, more children are in school globally than ever before.

Equality in education is critical for the development of individuals and societies. Education in underdeveloped countries helps assist with poverty reduction, improving health and gender equality. With education, more people will be able to secure higher-paying, skilled employment and health outcomes will improve across nations. With more girls in school, the rate of global child marriage will reduce.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, education is suffering, but the United States commits to efforts to improve education for all.

How the United States is Helping

In the past, although the U.S. has made efforts to advance global education, considering its status as a global powerhouse, many view these efforts as insufficient. Realizing the need for improvement, the U.S. is advancing its focus on education in underdeveloped countries.

At the recent Global Education Summit, the United States pledged $305 million to the GPE for 2021. The Let Girls Learn Initiative was started in 2015 by former President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The initiative invested millions of dollars while partnering with the private sector to improve education for girls in more than 50 countries.

On Sep. 8, 2017, the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act was signed into law. The Act ensures that the United States uses its resources to improve global education through programs focusing on literacy skills, mathematics and basic fundamental skills.

The International Basic Education Caucus was launched in 2015 with the ultimate goal of alleviating global poverty through education. Congressman Dave Reichert and Congressman Mike Quigley began this bipartisan caucus with the belief that education is the unrivaled way to promote freedom, peace and stability around the world.

When the United States invests in worldwide learning, it brings benefits not only for other countries but for the U.S. as well. Education can improve global and national security and it can contribute to better global health while providing more economic safety.

What Does This Mean for Poverty?

Education not only provides children with the necessary tools to learn and develop but also has significant impacts on poverty. Education paves the road to successful careers, allowing individuals to earn an income and break cycles of poverty.

Each additional year of education an individual receives provides “a 9% increase in hourly earnings.” This increase in earnings allows an individual to contribute more to the economy, affecting entire societies as health improves and others are inspired to look to education to provide a brighter future.

The recent contribution of more than $4 billion toward global education is one major step toward ending poverty. Advancing education in underdeveloped countries will lead to immense progress in countries around the world by breaking cycles of poverty.

– Delaney Gilmore
Photo: Flickr


Global Education in 2016
Global education in 2016 has seen many successes and many challenges. Advances in technology have increased many children’s access to education and educational materials, but the ongoing refugee crisis has created an education crisis for children in much of the world. Above all, two landmark pieces of legislation, the Education for All Act and the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act have aimed to expand and protect access to education for those all over the world.

While many parts of the world suffering from poverty have limited access to resources such as textbooks and other school supplies, technology has been making strides to replace these things in countries all around the world. E-readers, smartphones and online libraries have been used in places like Sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti, and these advances aim to make education more accessible to children in impoverished regions.

This year has been notable for the refugee crisis, with 2.1 million Syrian children among the many global refugees. School enrollment rates for Syrian children remain lower than those in Sub-Saharan Africa, and refugee children remain five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children. This has been a serious challenge to global education in 2016, and it will likely continue well into 2017 and beyond.

Male students globally remain more likely to receive an education than their female counterparts, and this problem is what the Education for All Act hopes to solve. This bill is a bipartisan effort to advance and encourage basic education for all while prioritizing groups who have been marginalized or denied an education due to conflict.

Another effort to improve girls’ access to education worldwide is the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act. This legislation hopes to protect girls who are in danger from conflict or who are refugees by improving their access to education. When they are not enrolled in school, refugee girls are especially vulnerable to dangerous situations such as trafficking, child marriage and underage labor.

Global education has seen both improvements and increased challenges in 2016. While the refugee crisis has seen an uptick in children who are not enrolled in school, the Education for All Act and the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act aim to combat this problem and improve access to education for the most vulnerable and stigmatized.

Eva Kennedy

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Estonia
Poverty in Estonia? Since the country regained its independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Estonia has been relatively economically successful. In fact, it emerged as an economic pioneer among former Soviet states in the late 1990s.

The country takes good care of their 1.3 million citizens. Life expectancy for men is 70 years of age, while life expectancy for women hovers around 80 years. This puts Estonia in a fairly good position in relation to the rest of the modern world. In the wake of the Financial Crisis of 2008, Estonia has been able to almost fully restore its economy.


Poverty in Estonia: Recovering from the 2008 Crisis


During the period following the Financial Crisis, income inequality reached record highs. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 2016 report shows that while the wealthy bounced back quickly from the crisis, the wages of those below the relative poverty line have yet to return to what they were pre-crisis. Despite decreases in unemployment, every fifth person in Estonia lives in relative poverty. More than one-quarter of Estonia’s wealth is hoarded by the richest members of the country.

The absolute poverty rate is highest in children, young people and pre-retirement age people. Education level significantly affects the chance of becoming impoverished in Estonia. Among those who had access to only lower education, every third existed in the poorest demographic and only one-twelfth existed in the largest income quintile. Thus, better education is a prerequisite for the eradication of poverty in Estonia.

However, the most notable aspect of poverty in Estonia is not how it effects, but who it effects. Those who are most at risk for poverty are pensioners. Pensioners are often older citizens who need pensions. Thus, the highest cases of poverty exist within the elderly community. In 2013, nearly 32 percent of Estonian citizens above the age of 65 lived in relative poverty.

These are all problems that may be remedied with internal drive and external aid. Some solutions that have been posed include The Strategy of Children and Families and increasing benefits for elderly citizens. Meanwhile, those who are not citizens can aid the poor in Estonia by supporting such acts as the “Education for All Act” which ensures funding is allotted in areas where education deficit remains a problem globally.

Kayla Provencher

Photo: Flickr

Education for All Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Education for All Act of 2016 on September 7 — five days after it was initially listed on the House Schedule. This bill, which promotes quality universal basic education, now moves on to the Senate.

In July, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced near-identical companion legislation to the Senate which is currently being considered in the Foreign Relations Committee.

This low-cost, bipartisan bill aims to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, asserting that multilateral education aid to developing countries is essential to protecting U.S. national security interests.

The bill requires that the United States government develop a comprehensive strategy, beginning with the designation of a Senior Coordinator of U.S. Government Actions to provide basic education assistance within USAID. This position will coordinate international resources in order to promote universal access to education.

If the Education for All Act continues its momentum, once signed by the President, the bill has the potential to change the lives of millions of children.

Currently, 59 million primary school-aged children are not enrolled in school. Furthermore, 250 million children who do attend school are unable to read, write, or do basic mathematics. Many drop out before the fourth grade.

Gender discrimination, conflict and extremism continue to limit the educational growth potential for at-risk children.

Guided by coordination, sustainability and aid effectiveness, the Education for All Act will support national education plans in developing countries worldwide, creating specific indicators to measure educational quality.

Additionally, the bill focuses on the equitable expansion of education in marginalized or conflict-affected populations, in an attempt to keep schools safe from violence.

“An education is a fundamental tool with which boys and girls are empowered to increase their economic potential, improve their health outcomes, address cultural biases, participate in their communities and provide for their families”, said Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), the original sponsor of the House bill.

According to the bill text, the legislation would promote and contribute to an overall increase in economic growth for underdeveloped countries, improve democratic institutions of government, encourage empowerment for women and young  girls while “ensuring that schools are not incubators for violent extremism.” As such, focusing on improving access to education across the globe would promote U.S. national security interests.

Congressional Budget Office estimates indicate that the Education for All Act is low-cost initiative, requiring less than $500,000 per year. Enacting the bill would neither increase net direct spending nor budget deficits in the future.

The Borgen Project applauds the House for passing this important legislation and urges readers to call and email their Senators to support the Education for All Act of 2016. Let’s get this bill to the President’s desk and give millions of children access to quality education.

– Larkin Smith

Photo: Flickr


Learn about the READ Act.



Aid to education has decreased by 10 percent since 2010. There are still 57 million children and 69 million adolescents who are not enrolled in school. Countries are beginning to worry that the goals set by the Education For All Act and the Millennium Development Goals will not be met.

For the first 10 years of the 21st century, aid to education has been steadily increasing. All three divisions — basic education, secondary education and post-secondary education — have seen rises in their funding. But educational funding hit its peak in 2010; since then, total funding has decreased, specifically in the basic education category.

Basic education is the level of education where children learn the foundational skills and core knowledge necessary to advance in the world. This is a vital step in the educational process for children across the globe, but seems to be neglected the most. Basic education is currently receiving the same amount of aid as it was in 2008.

The areas feeling the cuts most are those that are furthest from reaching their educational goals. Sub-Saharan Africa holds half of the world’s children who are not in school, and 12 of the African countries have experienced cuts totaling $10 billion since 2010.

South and West Asia have experienced the most severe cuts in their education aid. They saw cuts worth over a quarter of their total aid in 2010. India and Pakistan were hit the hardest with financial cuts.

Education seems to be a cause that is getting pushed aside when it comes to where aid is being allocated. Other sectors are receiving higher amounts of humanitarian aid; in 2013, the food sector received 86 percent of its requested funds and the health sector received 57 percent of its requested funds. Meanwhile, the education sector is struggling, receiving only 40 percent of its requested funds.

The Global Partnership for Education’s Replenishment Pledging Conference in Brussels is a two-day conference, beginning on June 25, during which donors will be asked to resubmit themselves to the global education cause. The goal is to raise $3.5 billion to support education in the poorest countries.

“We owe it to the children of the world — particularly the poorest and most marginalized — that both international donors and developing country governments step up and commit more funding to education,” said Julia Gillard, board chair of the Global Partnership for Education.

— Hannah Cleveland

Sources: World Education Blog, The World Post, RTT News
Photo: Teach

This week in an interview with PBS, reporter Judy Woodruff, UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown stated that $6 billion is what it would take to put 57 million children in primary school. This is the goal established by the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), launched in 2012 by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It is part of a larger goal to achieve universal primary education by December 2015, one of the Millennium Development Goals set by the UN in 2010.

In addition to the 57 million children this $6 billion would help, 71 million do not receive any education after this point. Those who do may be taught by ill-equipped teachers without the necessary books and supplies. This $6 billion would pay for teachers, classrooms, textbooks and other supplies necessary to provide education to children around the world. There are also other barriers preventing universal access to quality education, however. Child labor, denied access to education for women and the arranged marriages of girls as young as 12 are all challenges that must be met and overcome before any kind of permanent solution can take hold.

But Brown points out in his interview that in several countries, citizens are already fighting these issues. He cites campaigns against child labor, anti-rape protests and women fighting for their education and against child marriages in Bangladesh. The social climate is transitioning to one in which movements for universal education can flourish, which is proof to donor countries like the United States that this money will create positive change.

In order to make universal primary education a reality GEFI has cited three priorities: (1) putting every child in school, (2) improving the quality of learning and (3) fostering global citizenship. In a statement made in 2012 about GEFI and its goals, Ki-moon states that “education empowers people with the knowledge, skills and values they need to build a better world.” Education is necessary for creating a global community and eradicating poverty around the world.

In 2013, HR 2780, also known as the Education for All Act, was introduced and referred to committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. If passed, this bill would enact a chosen strategy for developing global education and allow the President to allot funds to foreign countries for this purpose. Each year, the United States spends $30 billion on foreign aid, less than 1 percent of the national budget. It only takes $6 billion, a relatively small amount, to expand the opportunity of education to every child in the world.

So how much is $6 billion?

  • The cost of the 2012 presidential campaign.
  • 1/3 the amount Americans paid in credit card late fees last year.
  • 1/10th the amount Americans are estimated to spend on pets this year.
  • 1/16th the amount Americans spent on beer last year.
  • The net worth of S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chik-fil-a.

What can be done with $6 billion instead?

  • Build primary schools around the world.
  • Hire educators who are passionate about teaching.
  • Purchase supplies to ensure the success of students.
  • Grant millions of children the chance for education.

The gains that have been made in global education in the past few decades are monumental. In the past 25 years, worldwide literacy rates have increased by 33 percent, and primary school enrollment has tripled. In the past 15 years, Botswana doubled school enrollment rates. Today, more children are in school than ever, and the world is only $6 billion away from including every child in that statistic. This may seem like a lot of money to the average citizen, but for a country like the United States it is minimal. By supporting the Education for All Act and increasing the foreign aid budget by a small amount, we can ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn, grow and escape the cycle of poverty.

– Kristen Bezner

Sources: GovTrack, PBS News Hour, Global Education First Initiative, LA Times, Forbes, The Seattle Times, Mental Floss, The Borgen Project
Photo: United Nations