House passes Reichert, Lowey bill to expand children's access to education around the world

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation, introduced by Representatives Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Nita Lowey (D-NY). The Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act aims to expand children’s access to school around the world and improve the quality of education for those currently enrolled.

“Today, millions of children, especially in conflict-affected states and sub-Saharan Africa, are desperate for an education but are denied that opportunity through no fault of their own. Helping these children receive a basic education is not only the right thing to do, but will also give them skills to care for their families, improve their own health outcomes, contribute positively to their communities, and foster more stability in conflict-prone regions,” said Congressman Dave Reichert. “I am hopeful that with this bill, we can better coordinate our efforts with global partners to work toward reaching the 124 million children around the world who are not in school and improve the quality of education for those currently enrolled.”

“Education is the fundamental tool that empowers girls and boys to increase their economic potential, improve their health outcomes, address cultural biases, participate in their communities, and provide for their families,” said Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey. “That’s why prioritizing children’s access to education around the world strengthens our national security and global leadership. Simply put, we cannot build the world we want for ourselves, and for future generations, without making education the center of our efforts.”

Worldwide, 59 million primary school-age children and 65 million adolescents do not attend school – the majority of whom are girls.  Tens of millions of children who start primary school drop out, and millions more are denied a secondary education.

An educated citizenry contributes to sustained economic growth, strengthened democratic institutions, the empowerment of women and girls, and decreased extremism.  That is why no country has reached sustained economic growth without achieving near universal primary education.

Specifically, the READ Act calls for:

  • U.S. engagement with key partner countries, other donors, civil society, the private sector, and multilateral global education initiatives, such as the Global Partnership for Education, to promote sustainable, quality basic education.
  • A comprehensive, integrated U.S. strategy that improves educational opportunities and addresses key barriers to school attendance, retention, and completion for the poorest children worldwide;
  • The creation of a “Senior Coordinator” within the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) responsible for the development, implementation, and coordination of U.S. basic education programs;
  • An annual report to Congress on implementation of the basic education strategy and progress achieved by USAID programs.