|A Jesuit Refugee Service Ecuador staff member helping children of a Colombian refugee with school homework in Las Esmeraldas, Ecuador. (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)|
|Education offers the hope of a better future for millions of vulnerable and marginalized populations living in dangerous and difficult circumstances, including the poor, people with disabilities, and women and girls|
(Washington, D.C.) April 26, 2016 — Jesuit Refugee Service and more than 45 other organizations sent a joint letter to Congress today urging the House to support the Education for All Act, a bipartisan bill seeking to ensure that children around the world have access to a quality basic education.
JRS believes education is a life-saving intervention. In emergencies where many agencies provide basic humanitarian assistance, JRS is on the ground organizing educational and recreational activities to heal trauma, promote human dignity, and build skills which enable refugees to rebuild their lives and become self-sufficient.
Furthermore, the Education for All Act is a critical investment in U.S. national security and economic growth, a reduction in global poverty, and a demonstration of American values.
The text of the letter follows:
We, the undersigned organizations, represent a diverse array of local, national and global groups working to advance education, health, food security, democracy and governance, economic growth, peace, security, and human rights at home and around the world. While our respective missions are diverse, we are firmly committed to promoting stability and sustainable development in the world’s poorest countries and communities.
We write to ask you to support the bipartisan Education for All Act (EFA Act), H.R. 4481 in the U.S. Congress. Ensuring children around the world have access to a quality basic education is an essential element to the success and sustainability of all of our efforts and directly supports U.S. national and international interests.
Security and Stability: Education offers the hope of a better future for millions of vulnerable and marginalized populations living in dangerous and difficult circumstances, including the poor, people with disabilities, and women and girls. Without a basic education, children are more vulnerable to the pull of extremist groups, at greater risk to infectious and deadly diseases, and more likely targets for forced labor, trafficking, and child marriage. Research has shown that each additional year of formal schooling for males reduces their risk of becoming involved in conflict by 20 percent.
Economic Growth: Through education, children learn to read, write, think critically, and acquire the important life skills needed to build their communities and lift themselves out of poverty. In fact, education is a prerequisite for short- and long-term economic growth – no country has achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without at least 40 percent of adults being able to read and write. The economic growth spurred by education also enables countries to become stable trading partners for U.S. export markets.
Foundational Development: In many countries, the school functions as the center of community life and a focal point for other development efforts – serving as a center for vaccinations, deworming efforts, and a source for clean water. In Africa alone, 4.5 million children die each year before reaching their 5th birthday, but children of mothers with a full primary education are 40 percent more likely to survive to age five.
The Education for All Act builds upon current U.S. efforts to ensure equal access to quality education for children throughout the world. The legislation works toward reaching the 124 million children and youth around the world who remain out of school, and improves the quality of education for those already enrolled. Specifically, the legislation calls for:
• Developing a comprehensive integrated U.S. strategy that improves educational opportunities and addresses key barriers to school attendance, retention and completion for all children;
• Ensuring a continuum of education services for children affected by conflict and other emergencies;
• Coordinating U.S. government efforts to efficiently and effectively manage resources;
• Working with countries to strengthen systems in order to build long-term sustainability;
• Engaging with key partners including other donors, civil society and multilateral global
education initiatives, such as the Global Partnership for Education, to leverage U.S.
contributions to achieve a greater overall impact;
• Requiring specific indicators and objectives with which to measure progress in improved
access to quality basic education in developing countries; and
• Improving the transparency and accountability of our basic education programs, ensuring
taxpayer dollars have the most impact for children worldwide.
The Education for All Act is a critical investment in U.S. national security and economic growth, a reduction in global poverty, and a demonstration of American values. We look forward to your co-sponsorship of this important piece of legislation.
Please view the attached PDF for a list of signatories.