Why the READ Act is a Big Win for International Development

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — On August 1, the U.S. Senate passed the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act after Senators Marco Rubio and Dick Durbin initially introduced the idea. At its core, the READ Act promotes basic education in developing countries. Congressman Adam Smith, a co-sponsor of the bill, explained that it will “create quality, sustainable education programs that produce measurable targets and benchmarks.”

For the international advocacy community, the passage of this bill is wildly exciting. Advocates understand that education can transform lives of poverty into lives of prosperity. For every year of schooling a child in a developing country receives, their future income increases by 10 percent. Educated mothers are more likely to vaccinate their children. And, with each additional year of schooling citizens receive, a country’s GDP increases by 0.37 percent. Access to basic education is essential for economic prosperity.

American policymakers on both sides of the aisle recognize the legislation’s potential. Congresswoman Nita Lowey, a member of the Democratic Party, introduced the House version of the bill with Congressman Dave Reichert, a Republican. In a statement, Lowey explained that “there is no greater force multiplier in foreign aid than education.” She also understands that pushing for education for all is in the United States’ best interest. “We cannot build the world we want for ourselves, and for future generations, without making education the center of our efforts,” Nita Lowey said.

It is clear that the READ Act was crafted with careful consideration. It has a strong emphasis on partnership, both with countries receiving aid and private sector organizations. According to Congressman Smith, this will “create a greater overall impact on the lives of children most severely affected by conflict and global emergencies.” The act even specifically focuses on the gender gap in education. Congressman Smith also noted, “by helping partner countries provide children with basic education, we can help empower women and girls, which is proven to lead to more stable, just and peaceful societies.”

Another sign of the strength of the policy in the READ Act is its transparency. It includes requirements to measure the effectiveness of the policy it implements. The educational programs implemented by the act will publish progress reports in order to ensure that they use American resources responsibly and effectively.

The READ Act is conscientious policy that brings the world one step closer to achieving education for all. It puts America at the forefront of international leadership. Most importantly, it will make the world a better place. However, it would not have been possible without the emails, phone calls and letters to Congress from constituents. Policies like the READ Act pass through Congress when advocates for the global poor make their voices heard. Calls to Congresspeople are essential for more policy triumphs such as this.

Adesuwa Agbonile
Photo: Flickr

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Adesuwa Agbonile

Adesuwa lives in Seattle, WA. She is a Nigerian-American, with academic interests in communications and human biology. Adesuwa also loves anything public health and health care oriented and was named after a ancient Benin princess.

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