Up Front

Universal Education is an Investment for America

Rebecca Winthrop

President Obama kicked off the Clinton Global Initiative’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday, speaking about the importance of U.S. investment in international development. He outlined the ways in which world problems quickly become America’s problems, and the ties between the U.S. and other countries in this ever-globalized world.

Unlike his speech at last year’s meeting, where he committed $2 billion for the creation of a Global Fund for Education, Obama’s talk this year did not include any more details on how he would carry out his commitment to global education.

In today’s increasingly globalized world, it is imperative to keep global education at the forefront of the U.S. political agenda. Not only because it affects millions of children worldwide, but because it directly affects Americans’ safety, health and economic well-being.

As I outline in an editorial published yesterday, studies have linked education with attitudes toward democracy, indicating increased education is a determining factor for democratic attitudes in divided societies. Therefore, more educated societies create more democratically-minded citizens, which will help promote democracy and stability around the world. Further, education helps prevent the spread of communicable diseases—particularly HIV. And moreover, education promotes economic growth. Increased income generation promotes increased global trade, which can increase revenues for U.S. businesses.

Although the developing countries may seem a world away to many Americans, the prosperity of all the world’s citizens affects those in the U.S. As I outline in the editorial, the interconnectedness of our safety, health and economic growth is undeniable, as is the great need to enact change now and make good on the commitment to fund education in the world’s poorest countries.

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