WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Sep. 8, 2017, the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act was enacted into law. The bipartisan legislation is designed 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. The passage of the READ Act will ultimately prove significant for the entire global community.
First introduced in the House of Representatives on Jan. 23 by Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, the bill was co-sponsored by nine additional members of Congress from both parties. They were: David Reichert of Washington, Daniel M. Donovan of New York, Edward R. Royce of California, Eliot L. Engel of New York, Adam Smith of Washington, Charles W. Dent of Pennsylvania, Kay Granger of Texas, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Michael T. McCaul of Texas. Both Reichert and Smith are on the Borgen Project’s Board of Directors.
The bill, originally titled the Education for All Act, was first introduced in 2004 by Congresswoman Lowey and then-Senator Hillary Clinton. The bill amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which vowed to make global poverty a priority for the United States budget and sought educational, economic, cultural and social means for achieving those goals.
The READ Act, by extension, seeks to reinforce the educational accountability that the United States holds toward other nations. Not only will the nation promote basic educational programs by partnering with countries, donors, the private sector, and civil society organizations, but it will also emphasize the value of education for economic growth and social mobility. In particular, the third section of the bill highlights the critical role of increased educational accessibility for not only individuals living in poverty, but specifically for girls and women.
Currently, it is projected that the passage of the READ Act will significantly improve the lives of more than 263 million school-aged youth and adolescents by providing them with education. Statistically, it has been shown that girls and boys who learn to read, write and count — as well as pursue additional forms of education — will improve the world.
In particular, education can reduce poverty, increase income, boost economic growth, save children’s lives, foster peace, reduce fertility rates, prevent disaster-related deaths, reduce child marriage, reduce maternal death, promote gender equality and combat HIV and AIDS. Clearly, then, the wide-reaching ramifications of the READ Act will inevitably prove significant for people across the world.
The passage of the READ Act therefore serves as a tantamount example of how U.S. funding can make a difference throughout the world. Although this marks a significant success for advocates of global poverty aid and reduction, there is still more work to do. It is only through continued advocacy, mobilization and support that bills such as the READ Act, which not only ameliorate global poverty but also benefit the United States overall, manage to pass through Congress.
The Borgen Project has mobilized more than 5,300 emails from constituents to their Members of Congress in support of the bill. The Borgen Project has held 138 meetings with Congressional offices to discuss the READ Act.
– Emily Chazen