The READ Act
According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), nearly 263 million children and youth around the world are without an education. Of all of the regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the most detrimental number of children out of school – over a fifth of children between the ages of six to 11 and about one-third of children between the ages of 12 to 14. As the children grow older, the rates continue to worsen – almost 60 percent of youth between the ages of 15 to 17 are not receiving an education. The READ Act is a big step forward in the fight to change these numbers.

The Necessity of the READ Act

The UIS and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report show that in Nigeria alone, 8.7 million children who are supposed to be in primary school are not. In Sudan, it is 2.7 million children and in Ethiopia, it is 2.1 million children. These children are not given the chance to thrive and challenge themselves and it is out of their hands due to the vast global poverty they are encompassed in.

Statistics such as this emphasize the importance of laws such as the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act. This act was signed into law in 2017, and it is this law that is providing these 263 million children (130 million of whom are girls) hope for a deserved and promising education.

Bringing the READ Act into Reality

Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA) first introduced the READ Act into Congress. Both Rep. Lowey and Rep. Reichert are important contributors to the passing of this bill, along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).

The main causes as to why these 263 million children do not have access to education are conflict and political instability. This law aims to provide education to the children who are in these situations, while simultaneously aiming to improve the overall quality of education. Rep. Reichert commented to World Vision, “By giving young people in impoverished regions the tools to read and write, we will put them down a positive path where they are better able to care for themselves, the needs of their families and their communities.”

The READ Act came about as an idea: what if the United States could make a significant difference by ensuring that every child has an equal and fair opportunity for a safe, quality education? After 13 years of constant due diligence and advocates contacting Congress over 1500 times, today there is widespread global success from this act.

How the READ Act Will Help

UNICEF reports that the READ Act of 2017 “will be tasked with developing a strategy to work with partner countries and organizations to promote basic education in developing countries.” The READ Act creates programs that also promote education as a foundation for economic growth. The act not only recognizes the importance of children having access to a quality education, it emphasizes that the act will create a chain reaction in communities by providing more jobs which will aid in diminishing poverty.

Rep. Lowey stated, “Prioritizing education around the world will not only help students learn to read and write – it will ultimately help protect vulnerable communities from hunger and disease and increase economic advancement, particularly for girls and women.” The READ Act, in providing millions of children around the globe with an education, is generously increasing the chance for these children to find jobs and build stable lives one day as they get older.

It is because of American citizens’ insistence that Congress take action that the READ Act has become an applicable law. More importantly, it is because of the citizens’ efforts that millions of children around the world now have new opportunities open for them and a brighter, more hopeful future to look forward to.

– Angelina Gillispie

To find out more about the past successes of our advocacy work and our current legislative priorities in Congress, head over to our Legislation page.

Photo: Flickr

Effects Education Has on Society
Education affects society in many important ways. The Borgen Project is trying to improve education in improvised areas because of the many benefits that educations offers to the people in live in impoverished nations. Here is a list of the top ten effects education has on society.

The Top 10 Effects Education Has on Society

  1. Education is important in the creation of any democratic society. As Franklin D. Roosevelt says, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” People need a good education if they want a good democracy.
  2. Education is needed to make a society geopolitically stable. Without a proper educational system available to everyone, terrorists could use free education as a way to radicalize people. In other words, geopolitical stability is one of education’s most powerful effects on society.
  3. Education leads to economic prosperity in the global marketplace. One of the most important effects education has on society is giving the people who live in a society the skills they need to compete in the global marketplace, and the skills they need to produce technological goods that can be sold on the open market. Socrates best expressed this idea when he stated: “Prefer knowledge to wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual.”
  4. Education gives people the knowledge they need to elect capable leaders. Plato stated, “In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill… we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.” Education helps the members of society see through the manipulations used by politicians to get votes so that the members of the society can vote for the leader who is best able to run the society.
  5. Education helps promote tolerance in a society and helps reduce common conflicts between diverse populations in an urban setting. Helen Keller said that “The highest result of education is tolerance.” Educating members of society about other people who either live in the society or its neighboring states have the power to reduce many conflicts.
  6. Education has the power to help societies, and the world in general, change for the better. According to Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Malcolm X says that: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Education is a powerful tool that can be used to make the world a better place to live in.
  7. Education is important because it helps members in a society learn from the mistakes of the past. Plato has stated that geopolitical stability cannot be created by forming a democratic government; if the government is established by force or because of overthrowing an old regime, the new government could transform from a government that encourages peace and democracy into a new government that uses force to maintain power. Having an education is important because good education allows members of a society to learn from past mistakes and prevent the same mistakes from happening in the future.
  8. Education is the first step a society needs before giving rights to women and other minority groups. Education is a powerful tool that enables women and other minority groups to gain fundamental civil rights. It is important to treat women and other minorities with respect in the classroom. Abraham Lincoln stressed the importance that education has in helping people who live in a society to more fundamental civil rights when he said, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation is the philosophy of government in the next.”
  9. Education reduces violence and crime in societies. Teaching people to read has been shown to prevent people from engaging in crime. In fact, the Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment is a charity group uses education to combat violence and crime.
  10. Education creates hope for the future. Giving people hope that they can improve their lot in life is one of the more powerful effects education has on a society. John F. Kennedy best expressed the power of a good education when he said: “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”  JFK’s words about America apply to every society on Earth.

The READ Act

The Borgen Project works to help bring the positive effects education has on society to all through the READ Act. Education is valuable, and everybody needs to ensure education is widely available. A proper educational system can ensure people in any impoverished nation have access to both upward mobility and geopolitical stability.

– Michael Israel

Photo: Flickr

Literacy education
The Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act helps promote global literacy education, which aids in protecting children from human traffickers, reducing the number of people who get indoctrinated by terrorist groups and decreasing the rate of violent crimes in an area.

The READ Act was ratified in the House of Representatives by mobilizing people to contact their congressional representatives, and is now one of the many laws The Borgen Project strives to get passed into law.

Literacy has been shown to reduce violent criminal behavior.

Literate people who have an education are much less likely to engage in violent and destructive behaviors than people who are illiterate. Media literacy is an important tool that can be used to prevent disenfranchised people from adopting violent ideological beliefs.

Statistics show that people who are even functionally literate (reading at the first-grade level) are less likely to turn to violence than people who do not know how to read. Thus, education is a powerful tool to end the cycle of violence.

Lack of access to schools hinders literacy education in impoverished areas.

Many people who live in impoverished countries cannot afford to send their children to school; this problem is magnified in counties that have more then one spoken language.

The odds that the language that the child speaks at home will differ from the language that is taught in the school system is very high, so these situations can lead to a child becoming literate in one language but unable to communicate with the people in his or her local village.

Literacy education can lead to improved productivity and quality of life.

Having a population of literate workers can increase long-term economic growth by over 3.5 percent and can increase the per capita income of the people who live in an improvised area by at least 6 percent. Another benefit of literacy is the ability to critically analyze medical advice to ensure that people understand the risks inherent in any medical procedure.

Uneducated children are at risk of radicalization.

Terror groups tend to recruit children who are not in school, and some terror groups offer to educate the children so that they can indoctrinate the children with violent ideological messages. The READ Act helps to ensure that children are able to have access to an education without getting a message from a terrorist group as part of their education.

Edward Everett summarizes the power of education with the quote: “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.” Providing literary education to impoverished areas is less costly, both on the financial level and in terms of human lives, than sending in soldiers to deal with terrorists.

The READ Act is just one of many policies that The Borgen Project has helped pass into law. Literacy is an important tool that can be used to improve the living conditions in impoverished areas, and the READ Act helps ensure that people who live in third-world countries have access to the benefits offered by literacy.

– Michael Israel

Photo: Flickr

The READ Act
On August 1, The Borgen Project-backed bill Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act passed the Senate by a voice vote. The READ Act, H.R. 601, passed the House of Representatives on January 24 of this year. This low-cost bipartisan bill promotes universal basic education worldwide.

Specifically, it updates the objectives of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to support U.S. universal education policies that involve cooperation with partner countries, the private sector and civil society. The READ Act also emphasizes the need for strengthening education systems, especially so that girls can safely attend school.

Provisions to evaluate its effectiveness are included in the bill. By Oct. 1, 2017, the president must submit a comprehensive strategy for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 through FY 2022 that promotes basic education in partner countries. The president is then required to submit to Congress an annual implementation report.

The act also establishes the role of Senior Coordinator of U.S. International Basic Education Assistance within the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), a member of The Borgen Project board of directors. The Senate version was sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Richard Durbin (D-IL).

Rep. Lowey said on Twitter: “Pleased the Senate passed my bipartisan #READAct to prioritize education around the world.” On prioritizing education, Lowey has also said that promoting universal education is important in combatting poverty, disease, hunger and extremism.

The Congressional Budget Office said that the READ Act will likely cost taxpayers a total of $1 million between 2017 and 2021.

In the past 25 years, literacy rates rose 33% and primary school enrollment tripled. However, 250 million children and youths worldwide currently do not have access to quality education, and 500 million adult women are illiterate.

Both USAID and U.S. foreign aid previously succeeded in promoting universal education and literacy. In 2002, there were no female students in Afghanistan. Now they make up one-third of all Afghan students.

The Borgen Project is a strong supporter of the READ Act. In this year alone, 5,003 emails were sent to Members of Congress through The Borgen Project website in support of the READ Act.

The READ Act now heads back to the House of Representatives with minor revisions, before moving on to the president for his approval.

– Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr

The Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act (READ Act) has maintained significant support in legislation, where the Senate has read the bill twice. The goal of the READ Act is to promote education and maintaining stable communications in order to promote peaceful transactions with specific countries in need. Below are 10 facts regarding the READ Act.

Ten Facts About the READ Act

  1. Sponsored by Marco Rubio, the READ Act is a bill aimed at achieving universal access to quality basic education and significantly improving the learning environment in developing countries. Through cooperation with foreign governments, a consistent curriculum would be established in each respective country in order to stabilize the education system.
  2. Curricula are aimed at improving literacy and numeracy, as well as other developmental skills that can benefit a future worker. This system would be created only after consulting various groups ranging from government to organizations that represent teachers and students.
  3. Breaking down barriers is an essential part of this bill because it allows for a safe learning environment. Women and girls would get the same opportunity to benefit from the READ Act. Also, marginalized groups such as individuals in conflict zones and children would get priority to the educational benefits.
  4. When a country becomes a partner and is in need of assistance, the improvements are monitored in order to make sure goals are achieved. This is done by the Senior Coordinator, who is appointed by the President and is responsible for the resources used for the establishment of universal basic education.
  5. In order to eliminate the potential for unnecessary costs, all similar positions in different facets responsible for the enactment of this bill would become unnecessary, after the legislation is passed. The Senior Coordinator for the United States Agency for International Development would be eliminated in order to prevent duplication.
  6. The READ Act aims to accelerate the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 by including elements prioritizing the need for universal basic education and expanding the powers of the government, including “partnerships” with developing countries most in need. They would receive training and develop a plan of action for their education system.
  7. This bill outlines the specific duties of the President in relation to the enactment of this bill. If passed, monitoring and evaluating would become a necessity, as progress would be made publicly available to ensure global progress.
  8. No later than Oct. 1, 2017, the President has to submit a strategy to Congress on how to provide universal basic education to developing countries in need. The plan must be consistent and include long-term goals to be achieved from 2018 through 2022.
  9. Before Mar. 31 of each year following enactment of this bill, a report must be given to Congress outlining the results of the strategy created by the President. It would include how successful coordination was made between different governmental agencies in implementing the READ Act and how qualified each country is to receive assistance. Progress in the implementation of this bill would also be included.
  10. The READ Act would ensure the promotion of education as a foundation for sustained economic growth, enabling partner countries to develop a sustainable education system and strategy.

Reinforcing education through the READ Act means providing the marginalized in our global society with a safe environment in which to learn. Positive growth and the ability to one day start a business or pursue a college career allows people to become another skilled professional in the workforce.

Nick Katsos

Photo: Flickr

Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development
On Jan. 24, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act (H.R. 601). The bill, which has essentially the same language as the Education for All Act of 2016, provides accountability for existing U.S. efforts to improve quality basic education in developing and war-torn countries.

The Education for All Act (H.R. 4481) passed the House in the 114th Congress on Sept. 7, 2016. It later passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December, but unfortunately, Congress adjourned before it was considered in the full Senate. Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY-17) and Dave Reichert (R-WA-8) just introduced the READ Act on Jan. 23, so it shows great momentum that it passed only one day later.

The U.S. foreign assistance strategy has a long history of incorporating education, as most agree that it is a vital part of improving economic stability in developing countries. According to the World Bank, “an increase of one standard deviation in student reading and math scores is associated with an increase of two percentage points in annual gross domestic product (GDP) per capita growth.”

The international community has also widely accepted the importance of education in international development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted in September of 2015, and it features 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the goals, SDG 4, is for countries to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

However, according to data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Institute for Statistics (UIS), for the school year ending in 2014, about 263 million children and youth did not attend school. This included children who were of primary school age (6 to 11 years old), lower secondary school age (12 to 14 years old) and upper secondary school age (15 to 17 years old).

The READ Act, therefore, is an important step in helping to maintain progress in our foreign assistance strategy, as well as contributing to the achievement of SDG 4. It aims to accelerate the impact of assistance provided under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, “an act to promote the foreign policy, security, and general welfare of the United States by assisting peoples of the world in their efforts toward economic development and internal and external security, and for other purposes.”

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA-39) said, in his remarks to the House prior to the vote, “H.R. 601, the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act, introduces new guidelines and increases accountability for existing U.S. efforts to improve access to basic education in developing and conflict-torn countries. It requires strategic planning and the prioritization of resources relative to needs on the ground, potential for impact, and alignment with U.S. diplomatic, development and security interests.”

There is strong bipartisan support for the READ Act, and the bill will now go to the Senate for consideration. The Borgen Project commends the House for making this legislation a priority in the new year, as it opens the possibility for millions of children to gain access to the education they all deserve.

– Kristin Westad