Fact Sheet: Building a Stronger Global Partnership through Basic Education and Childhood Nutrition (7/24/00)

Fact Sheet: Building a Stronger Global Partnership through Basic Education and Childhood Nutrition (7/24/00)

Today, President Clinton announced new initiatives to expand access to basic education and improve childhood development in poor countries. Part of the Okinawa Summit's unprecedented emphasis on international development, these measures include:

  1. A new $300 million U.S. Department of Agriculture international school nutrition pilot program to improve student enrollment, attendance, and performance in poor countries.
  2. Endorsement by the G-8 of key international "Education for All" goals, including the principle that no country with a strong national action plan to achieve universal access to primary education by 2015 should be permitted to fail for lack of resources.
  3. A new commitment by the World Bank to double lending for basic education in poor countries --- an estimated additional $1 billion per year.
  4. An FY 2001 Administration budget request to increase funding for international basic education assistance by 50% ($55 million) targeted to areas where structural weaknesses in educational systems contribute to the prevalence of abusive child labor.

Better access to basic education can be a catalyst for poverty reduction and broader participation in the benefits of global economic integration. Literacy is fundamental not only to economic opportunity in today's increasingly knowledge-intensive economy but also to maternal and infant health, prevention and treatment of HIV-AIDS and other infectious diseases, elimination of abusive child labor, improved agricultural productivity, sustainable population growth and environmental conditions, and expanded democratic participation and respect for human rights.

  1. The U.S. will launch a $300 million school feeding pilot program working through the UN World Food Program in partnership with private voluntary organizations. Building on ideas promoted by Ambassador George McGovern and former Senator Robert Dole and explored at the World Food Program (WFP), the USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) would purchase surplus agricultural commodities and donate them for use in school feeding and pre-school nutrition programs in poor countries with strong action plans to expand access to and improve the quality of basic education.
  1. The G-8 has strongly endorsed Education for All goals and called for increased bilateral, multilateral, and private donor support for country action plans. At the initiation of the U.S., the G-8 has agreed to endorse the goals of a recently concluded international conference on access to basic education. Held in April 2000 in Dakar, Senegal, the World Education Forum gathered over 1,000 leaders from 145 countries to increase the world community's commitment to basic education in poor countries by:
  1. In connection with the Summit and at the suggestion of the U.S., World Bank President James Wolfensohn has pledged that the Bank will increase education lending by 50% and devote the increase to basic education in support of the Dakar Framework -- a $1 billion increase or doubling of the Bank's lending for this purpose. This step could galvanize action on the part of the developing countries and other public and private donors to develop a deeper partnership in support of educating the world's youth.
  2. The G-8 action builds on the President's FY 2001 budget initiative to increase by 50% ($55 million) US assistance to strengthen educational systems in areas of developing countries, targeted to areas where abusive child labor is prevalent. The International Labor Organization has estimated that 250 million children work worldwide. A lack of educational alternatives exacerbates this problem. The Administration initiative would complement direct efforts to reduce abusive child labor such as those by the International Labor Organization by providing support for improvements in educational systems.

The international community has set a goal of achieving universal access to primary education by 2015; however, half of children in developing countries do not attend school and 880 million adults remain illiterate. An estimated 120 million children in developing countries do not attend any school at all, and an additional 150 million children drop out of school before completing the four years of schooling needed to develop sustainable literacy and numeracy skills.

The United Nations World Food Program estimates that 300 million children in developing countries are chronically hungry. Many of these children are among the nearly 120 million who do not attend school. Others are enrolled in school but underperform or drop out due in part to hunger or malnourishment.

The President's international school feeding pilot program and the G-8's support for basic education in poor countries are part of the G-8's unprecedented emphasis on development. One of the principal objectives of the Okinawa Summit has been to strengthen the partnership of developed and developing countries, international institutions, the private sector, and civil society in support of global poverty alleviation. The Summit will create a framework for significantly increased bilateral, multilateral, and private sector assistance to poor countries with effective policies in three interrelated areas: infectious diseases, basic education, and information technology. The goal is to mobilize a more comprehensive response by the international community in response to developing countries that exert leadership at home on these issues. No issue is more fundamental to human progress that basic education:

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