Lowey, Reichert, Rubio, Durbin International Education READ Act Enacted

September 12, 2017
Press Release
Legislation will enhance transparency and accelerate the impact of U.S. basic education programs around the world; Lowey first introduced legislation in House of Representatives in 2004.

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester) and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA08/Chelan-Kittitas-Douglas-King-Pierce), along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), authors of companion legislation in the Senate, applauded enactment of the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act, H.R. 601, bipartisan legislation they introduced to enhance transparency and accelerate the impact of U.S. basic education programs around the world in order to help countries address the more than 263 million children and youth that are out of school.

“Without a doubt, education is the greatest force multiplier in foreign aid. The READ Act will enhance our global education efforts, removing barriers to education for those out of school and improving the quality of education for those already enrolled,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “Prioritizing education around the world will not only help students learn to read and write—it will ultimately help protect vulnerable communities from hunger and disease and increase economic advancement, particularly for girls and women. Simply put, by putting education at the center of our efforts, this bill moves us further down the path to building the world we want for ourselves and for future generations. This is a tremendous bipartisan achievement, and I thank my colleagues for their hard work to send this critical legislation to the president’s desk.”

“The expression ‘knowledge is power’ knows no borders or backgrounds,” said Rep. Reichert. “By giving young people in impoverished regions the tools to read and write, we will put them down a positive path where they are better able to care for themselves, the needs of their families, and their communities. The opportunity for a basic education will also help these children live longer, healthier lives and will promote stability in areas of the world suffering from conflict. I have been a longtime champion of the READ Act and could not be more pleased to see this bill get across the finish line.”

“The READ Act will empower millions of children around the world, particularly girls, by increasing their access to basic education and reducing their vulnerability to poverty, abuse, and extremism,” said Senator Rubio. “I commend President Trump for signing into law this important bill that will advance American interests and values by helping children around the world reach their full potential.”

“Passage of the READ Act will help provide children, particularly girls, with a quality education and empower them to improve the lives of their families and change the course of nations,” said Senator Durbin. “This bipartisan achievement will help unleash the potential of children across the globe and arm them with the necessary tools to break the cycles of poverty, violence, and extremism.”

The READ Act previously passed the House in January 2017 by voice vote and passed the Senate, with amendments, in August 2017 by voice vote. The bill, originally titled the Education for All Act, was first introduced in 2004 by Congresswoman Lowey and then-Senator Hillary Clinton.

Worldwide, 250 million primary schoolchildren are failing to learn basic literacy and numeracy skills. 130 million of these students have attended at least four years of school. Studies have shown that for every year a girl stays in school, her future income increases between 15 to 25 percent.

An educated citizenry contributes to sustained economic growth, strengthened democratic institutions, and the empowerment of women and girls. 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.

The READ Act was the legislative vehicle for passage of critical disaster assistance and short-term extensions of federal funding and the federal debt limit last week. Because a version of the READ Act had already passed both bodies, it could bypass Senate procedural steps, thereby expediting enactment of disaster assistance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and during Hurricane Irma.