Lowey and Shakira Lead Global Campaign for Education Fight for Education for All

April 22, 2008
Press Release

Washington, D.C., April 22, 2008—Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) hosted Grammy award-winning artist Shakira and more than 50 students from across the United States to meet with Members of Congress in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness for the bipartisan Education for All Act of 2007 (EFA). The event took place on Capitol Hill in conjunction with the Global Campaign for Education’s (GCE) Action Week, observed April 21-27. The week is being marked with events around the world led by young people calling upon their leaders to support education for all children, including the very poorest.

“All children deserve the chance to attend school, to learn, and to improve their futures,” said Lowey. “Without a basic education, children will not have the skills to contribute to their country, earn a good wage, and live a healthy and productive life. Promoting basic education worldwide also helps our own nation by decreasing poverty and extremism worldwide. I am thrilled to join Shakira, a dedicated and passionate advocate, in calling for all children to have access to basic education.”

“We know that we should all be doing more about making sure every child in the world receives a basic quality education,” said Shakira. “I know this is a challenge, but it’s a historic opportunity for all of us. We know how to address this -- it is within our reach and we can truly be the architects of change and be the first generation in human history to bring education to all children so that no child is left behind.”

More than 72 million elementary school-aged children around the world will not attend school today and another 226 million secondary school-aged children will not attend school either. A whole generation of young people will miss out on the life opportunities that a quality education can provide. And that is a tragedy that can be averted if we have the political will to meet the Education For All goals set forth by the global community at the World Education Forum held in Dakar in 2000.

The EFA Act was introduced by Representatives Lowey and Spencer Bachus (R-AL) (H.R.2092) and Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) (S.1259) on May 1, 2007. The Act, which seeks to realize the promises of the education for all goals established in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar, calls on the U.S. to provide the resources and international leadership to ensure all children have access to a quality basic education.

If passed, the EFA Act would increase funding by $10 billion over the next five years. It would do so by increasing funding from the current level of $465 million annually to $3 billion annually by 2012. This is the amount that many experts believe would represent the United States’ fair share of the existing financing gap for insuring quality basic education for all. The global cap has been set at $ 9 billion a year until 2015. The EFA Act requires the President to develop a comprehensive integrated strategy for the United States government to follow in working to reach the 2015 goal of universal access to education for all children.

Shakira was joined the day before by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and World Bank President Robert Zoellick on a press call with international reporters to discuss the global outlook.

The Global Campaign for Education is a coalition of organizations in more than 120 countries that raises awareness for universal basic education in the world’s poorest nations. This is the 6th consecutive year that the GCE has coordinated a global week of action for education, giving young people the opportunity to make the case for education for all children.

“2008 must be a year of action on education and the millennium development goals,” noted British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “At the start of 2000 the international community pledged to ensure that by 2015 every one of the world's children would be able to go to school. And Global Action Week on education is about reminding the whole world and world leaders of their promise that every child will get that chance by 2015.”

Millions of children worldwide will also participate in the “World’s Biggest Lesson” on April 23. By taking part in this lesson, each child will be joining an estimated five million of their peers in learning about the importance of education and the barriers that young people face all over the world in accessing a quality education. They will attempt to break the world record for the largest simultaneous lesson through learning and teaching a curriculum about the denial of quality education to tens of millions of poor children.

Shakira is an active advocate for universal education and a major philanthropist in Colombia, where her Barefoot Foundation supports universal education programs. In her role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Shakira recently visited Bangladesh where she saw programs aimed at rebuilding schools following the cyclone that devastated the country.