The First Lady of the United States is in the United Kingdom to talk about the initiative Let Girls Learn. (For some background on the initiative, check out my colleague’s take on the program).
This program is getting a boost from the United States and the United Kingdom to get young girls (and boys) into school. The $200 million dollar initiative will initially focus on getting 450,000 children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo into primary school, but it will not stop there. Sierra Leone and Liberia will soon be receiving support and it sounds like US President Obama and his wife are planning a whole lot more.
The First Couple of the United States took to forums in the US and the UK to talk about how important it is to get the 62 million girls that are currently not in school into the classroom.
You can see Michelle Obama’s full event here. (Or if you prefer the powerful highlights of her ideas, check out the video above).
It was a big day for girls and education with the US Administration. The Administration announced an expansion to the Head Start pre-primary school education program and signed the “Girls Count Act” into law.
The Girls Count Act has been a major focus point for some of our partners, including the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign. This act strives to solve the problem of girls being born without being officially registered (that means recognized) by governments. UNICEF says nearly 230 million children under the age of five around the world have never been counted. And in this case, if they're not counted then public resources for their education and health cannot be accurately distributed.
This is why these announcements are so exciting. The US Government and the UK Government are demonstrating a huge commitment to the future of girls and boys around the world by prioritizing them getting education.
I wholeheartedly agree with Michelle Obama that it is time to Let Girls Learn. The benefits are immense. Getting girls into school increases their lifelong earnings potential, it cuts infant mortality rates (when they get around the having kids-which more schooling pushes back into having kids at much safer ages), and can serve as a catalyst for communities and nation’s economies.
Well done Michelle Obama (and the US and UK Governments), this is a huge step forward-BUT it’s also just a step. Global citizens should keep the call for greater access to education for girls and boys going loud and clear. Education is one of the keys to ending extreme poverty around the world.