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of the Honorable Gene B. Sperling
Assistant to the President for Economic Policy,
United States of America
International Consultative Forum on Education for All
April 28, 2000
Thank you Mr. Gustafusson. And I would also like to thank UNESCO
Director-General [Koichiro] Matsuura; Chair of the EFA Strategy
Committee [Knud] Mortensen; other distinguished organizers and
participants of the International Consultative Forum on Education
for All. My very generous host and the Ambassador to the United
States Harriet Elam-Thomas.
would especially like to recognize and thank our distinguished
delegation, including [USAID Assistant Administrator] Thomas
Fox, [Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights] Norma
Cantu, [Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School
Officers] Gordon Ambach, [USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator]
Emily Vargas-Baron and the other Americans here from government,
civil society and private sector. They have done a terrific
job of representing America at this vitally important gathering.
We are also grateful to the Academy for Educational Development,
which prepared the excellent US EFA Assessment in cooperation
with our EFA National Commission.
special thanks to the NGOs who so often serve as the foot soldiers
in this battle, specifically but not limited to Oxfam, National
Education Association, and the Global March Against Child Labor.
would also like to express my gratitude to our Senegalese hosts.
Over the past decade, Senegal and the United States have become
more than close allies. We have become true partners. Our security
cooperation spans the globe. We have worked together to place
peacekeeping troops on the ground from the Persian Gulf to Liberia,
and Senegalese troops have consistently served with distinction.
In other areas, such as economic reform and social development,
Senegal has also made important strides in recent years. President
Clinton personally asked me to convey to the people of Senegal
his fond memories of his visit and most importantly that the
peaceful and gracious transfer of power between former President
Diouf and President Wade was an historic gain for democracy
that would serve as a shining example for all of Africa and
the world. The President wishes to congratulate President Wade
and reaffirm our deep commitment to even further strengthen
have come together here in Dakar amidst heightened global discussion
on the issue of globalization. Without question, one of the
challenges of our day is the need to broaden participation among
and within nations in the benefits of today's rapid technological
change and global economic integration.
of the vigorous discussions taking place around the world on
this topic lies hope for a new consensus. That hope rests on
our embracing two realities. First, openness is critically important
because international trade and investment are indispensable
engines of economic growth, and growth is, in turn, indispensable
to poverty reduction. But, second, while openness is essential,
it is necessary but not sufficient for developing countries.
For this reason, industrialized countries must work harder with
our developing country partners on more direct efforts to combat
poverty and raise living standards, through increased cooperation
and assistance on health, education, institutional capacity,
and infrastructure --- the fundamental building blocks of economic
new consensus must be anchored not in words, but in deeds. As
some of our civil rights leaders say: not just by talking the
talk, but by walking the walk. We believe that open trade lifts
living standards, but we also believe that to raise living standards
everywhere, we must seek a new consensus agenda that goes beyond
trade to include a larger vision of globalization with a human
process of globalization that is designed not only to prevent
a race to the bottom but also to prevent complacency in the
face of stubbornly persistent global poverty and wasted human
industrialized countries can begin by opening our doors further
to products from developing countries. At the President's urging,
our Congress has recently taken important steps toward passage
of the historic African Growth and Opportunity Act and Caribbean
Basin Trade Enhancement legislation, and we continue to press
to grant China permanent normal tariff status in support of
its accession to the World Trade Organization. The Africa bill
--- while not all the President aspired to --- would provide
duty-free and quota-free access to our market for nearly all
products from Sub-Saharan Africa. And, in the apparel sector,
the compromise bill would permit an estimated 30% to 40% growth
per year in duty-free exports to the US of garments made in
Africa from African fabric, creating an important incentive
for new investment and job creation in an industry that has
historically been a catalyst for job creation and economic development.
We are hopeful that Congress will send the President a final
bill for his signature soon, permitting us at long last to inaugurate
a new era of US-African economic relations.
we believe that expanding trade and investment is an important
piece of the strategy to spread the benefits of globalization
more widely, but that is only one piece. Equally important is
the need to combat poverty directly by helping developing countries
create the conditions ripe for unleashing the creative and productive
potential of their people. This can be done by intensifying
our support in three areas in particular; (1) debt relief; (2)
infectious diseases prevention and treatment and; (3) basic
education and continuing efforts to end the most abusive forms
of child labor.
first part of this direct, three-pronged assault on poverty
- debt relief - is closely related to the other two. On many
poor countries, foreign debt obligations exceed health or education
budgets or both. This is a major reason why President Clinton,
in a Summit meeting with African ministers in Washington last
year, proposed a sweeping expansion of the Heavily-Indebted
Poor Country Initiative (HIPC) to make debt relief faster, broader,
and deeper. That proposal formed the basis of the G-7 agreement
last June in Cologne, Germany, which will reduce the debts of
over 30 countries by about 70 percent when combined with previous
efforts, freeing additional resources for investment in health
and education. Last fall, he pledged unilaterally to go beyond
the Cologne framework and cancel 100 percent of the US government
debt owed by countries qualifying for it. Other G-7 countries
have since followed suit, and we are pleased that the first
developing countries have recently begun receiving expanded
second way we should intensify the fight against poverty is
by increasing assistance for the prevention and treatment of
infectious diseases. Just this week, the Financial Times reported
that malaria alone has costs Africa tens of billion dollars
in lost GDP. More people die each year of infectious diseases
than all soldiers from every country in World War I. In his
budget this year, President Clinton proposed a $1 billion tax
incentive aimed at stimulating the development of vaccines for
diseases in poor countries as well as increased contribution
to the Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative (GAVI), and an
appeal to the World Bank and other multilateral development
banks to dedicate an additional $400 million to $900 million
of low interest loans to address infectious diseases. We are
encouraging our G-7 partners to make similar efforts. The growing
HIV/AIDS pandemic, especially in Africa, demands our attention.
It compels us to act!
third prong of our strategy is what has brought us together
here for this historic gathering: creating access to quality
basic education for all of the world's children. The Dakar Framework
for Action is grounded in the moral belief that children everywhere
have a right to explore their potential and better their own
lives and that of their families.
of the contributions made by the Dakar Framework is that it
paints a thorough, textured picture of the many obstacles to
and benefits from basic education. It rightly presents basic
education as a springboard to economic opportunity, better health,
empowerment of women, sustainable population growth and environmental
conditions, and stringer democratic participation and respect
for human rights. When our Supreme Court declared our shameful
period of racial segregation of schools unconstitutional in
1954, Chief Justice Warren stated that education was integral
to all aspects of first class citizenship. In his opinion, he
stated: "In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonable
be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity
of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken
to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all
on equal terms." What was true for the United States nearly
50 years ago, rings more true for too many of the world's children
our Secretary of the Treasury, Larry Summers, was Chief Economist
for the World Bank, he gave a seminal speech stating that basic
education, particularly for girls, was perhaps the single most
productive investment we could make to raise living standards
in poor countries. During this conference that proposition has
been reaffirmed repeatedly and correctly by Kofi Annan and many
others. Much of the return from this investment is realized
over time, but it is unmistakable. Within each nation, perhaps
each family, there are those who have benefited from a generational
chain of human betterment created by the educational opportunity
afforded to a single child. For nearly every child that is rescued
from unfulfilled potential by a quality education, there are
succeeding generations of children and grandchildren who are
likely to be better educated, healthier, and more prosperous.
President sent me, his National Economic Adviser, here to address
you out of a conviction that education truly is the closest
thing we have to an answer to the universal quest for economic
opportunity. And it must be at the center of any long-term strategy
for economic development and poverty reduction. This is increasingly
true as information technology pervades more and more aspects
of economic activity. He sent me here to outline for you a perspective
on hoe all of us represented here --- developing countries,
developed countries, international institutions, and the private
sector - can join together in a genuine and effective global
partnership to make Education For All a reality.
we must combine education strategies with our efforts to fully
implement ILO Convention 182 banning the worst forms of child
labor. When children are not in school, they are not only failing
to reach their potential, they are too often being placed at
risk, working in abusive or hazardous environments in factories,
sweatshops or even brothels and drug trafficking networks. Those
in industrialized countries who call for globalization to be
more humane must recognize that there can be no true solution
to abusive child labor without universal, free, and compulsory
basic education. Parents of limited means can not be expected
to sacrifice their child's income by sending them to school,
especially when doing so would result in significant added expenses
for fees, uniforms, travel, and supplies. Poor quality and costly
schools discourage parents from appreciating the long-term benefits
of education for their children. The US stands ready to help.
In the past two years, we have increased our support for the
ILO's International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor,
which helps developing countries remove children from work and
place them in schools, from $3 million to $30 million. This
year, President Clinton has asked Congress for a further 50
percent increase. Now the program's largest funder, we have
helped create educational alternatives to work for about 74,500
children in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. During his recent
visit to Bangladesh, the President announced that we will finance
a new IPEC initiative to remove an additional 30,000 children
from a number of hazardous industries over the next few years.
developing countries must develop and come forward with solid
National EFA plans for improving access to quality basic education.
Part of this responsibility involves setting the right priorities,
whether it be eliminating gender disparities, increasing support
for early childhood care and education, implementing assessments,
creating HIV/AIDS awareness programs, or increasing and redeploying
resources for basic education for children, youth, and adults.
The path to universal access inevitably must begin with developing
developed countries must be prepared to respond concretely to
these plans with increased assistance. We should fully finance
the Cologne debt relief framework, whose full implementation
has a direct bearing on the extent to which developing countries
will be able to commit their own additional resources for basic
education. For our part, we are working hard to convince our
Congress to appropriate our contribution to the HIPC Trust Fund.
In addition, the President is proposing both our efforts to
increase our bilateral assistance for basic education by over
50% in this year alone - a doubling of resources in just the
last few years - and our efforts to fight abusive child labor.
We encourage other donor countries to consider similar increases
in their budgets for bilateral education aid, whether by overall
increases in aid levels or a reallocation of resources from
tertiary to basic education.
international institutions including multilateral development
banks (MDBs) and organizations such as UNESCO and UNICEF must
continue to play a key coordinating role by marshaling and targeting
donor to basic education in the LDCs. The United States supports
the Framework for Action's basic aim of ensuring that "no country
seriously committed to basic education will be thwarted in the
achievement of this goal by lack of resources." To provide the
necessary impetus for developing countries to take action by
committing to systematic broadening of educational access, we
must be clear that more resources will be available to those
who do their part. Like the line in the American movie "Field
of Dreams" - "if you build it, they will come: -- we must be
able to say to the poorest countries, "if you build a commitment
to basic education, we will be with you."
World Bank can play a critical role, particularly with the outstanding
leadership and commitment of its President, Jim Wolfensohn.
The World Bank and the international community should consider
concrete, multi-year targets for a substantial, even dramatic,
increase in World Bank lending, particularly for basic education
and to ensure equity among girls and boys.
the past several years, World Bank lending for education has
varied widely, from $1.01 billion in FY97 (5.3 percent of total
lending) to $3.11 billion in FY98 (10.9 percent) and $2.01 billion
in FY99 (7 percent) with less than half going to basic education.
example, assume the World Bank were to increase overall education
lending by 50 percent - if they devoted this entire increase
to basic education then lending for basic education could be
doubled - a step that could galvanize all parties toward action
in support of the Dakar Education For All Goals.
to make preceding steps happen, the G-7 countries must exercise
leadership. Just as the G-7 was the catalyst for expanded debt
relief last year, so it should consider taking the initiative
on basic education and health at its summit this year in Japan.
We will strongly encourage that action on the results of the
World Education Forum be a serious topic on the agenda G-7 meeting
we should consider tapping more deeply into the vast reservoirs
of private philanthropy in order to leverage official assistance.
Many of the corporations and individuals that have benefited
from the global economy are looking for ways to give something
back. Surely there are private sector counterparts interested
in performing a similar service for basic education given the
synergies for economic growth, public health, democratic participation,
and environmental sustainability. It is hard to imagine a more
effective investment in the success of open markets and global
integration than an expansion of literacy.
example, an information clearinghouse might be created to apprise
interested corporations and foundations of opportunities to
respond to an EFA-approved action plan and complement bilateral
and multilateral donor assistance. When I return home, I plan
to seek out a meeting with private groups to explore ways they
might be willing to play an enhance role.
we must continue to address new challenges. Let me mention three.
First without drawing attention away from basics of three education,
quality teachers, and acceptable teacher-student ratios, we
must also be committed to ensuring that the revolution of the
internet and information technology become a force for equity
and not a force for a digital divide that will widen global
divide. Again, while we must focus on the basics, education
technology and the internet will increasingly become a new basic.
In a community without a library, a single computer connected
to the internet, can be a connection to every library.
since the 1990 conference in Jomtien, there has been considerable
research on early childhood development of the brain and of
learning. We must incorporate this new research into our strategies
and go much further in developing cost effective early childhood
learning strategies for even the poorest countries. I realize
that this is a further challenge for nations still struggling
to achieve basic primary education, but we simply can not ignore
what we now know scientifically, about what type of early childhood
education is needed to allow all of our children to explore
that full potentials of their minds.
we can not and must not leave behind those children with disabilities
and special needs. Education can be the medicine of hope and
opportunity to these children; new technologies can provide
opportunities that seemed beyond us only a few years ago. Imagine
what some of these new technologies can do for children who
are blind or deaf or even bedridden. Again, I realize that even
in the United States this can be challenging in terms of resources.
But if we believe in the basic moral imperative that all children
would have a chance to reach their potential, than we must include
children with disabilities in our vision and our concrete plans.
global economy is generating vast new wealth and raising living
standards throughout much of the world, yet there is much we
can do to widen the circle of economic opportunity. The World
Education Forum has taken an important step in establishing
the principle that no country that has developed an effective
plan to increase access to basic education should lack the resources
to implement it. Today, I have tried to outline how we can create
a truly global, public-private partnership to make good in this
noble principle. The steps I have outlined would generate billions
of dollars of additional resources, providing more than ample
incentive for developing countries to organize themselves to
rise to the challenge.
stakes are high, especially for children. We must think of the
children. If we miss the opportunity to make this global partnership
a reality, an estimated 75 million children will still be deprived
basic education come 2015.
I traveled to a rural village called Keur Sega. We traveled
by hundreds-, even thousands of children who were not in school,
on our way to a village that previously had no primary school
whatsoever. Now thanks to a small grant from our Embassy here,
and a tremendous effort by the parents, the village and the
government, there are two functioning classrooms, excellent
teachers, with only the first and second grade, with over 50
students in each class. The students finishing first grade could
read as well as students anywhere in the United States. At the
end of my visit, when we asked if any of the students wanted
questions, someone told me that some of the students might use
the question-and-answer period to make unreasonable demands
of me. One little boy finishing second grade, dressed in his
coat and tie, raised his hand and said, "I wish we could have
the resources so that we could have a third grade I could go
to, and a bathroom at the school". This did not seem to me to
be an unreasonable request.