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Bush Announcement On Basic Education Music To Ears But Falls Short On Outlays


The Global March Against Child Labor welcomes the US Presidentís announcement on the importance of Basic Education for all, which Mr. Bush has expressed prior to the G8 summit. President Bush has clearly stated that education is an essential pre-requisite to breaking the cycle of poverty, promoting progress, and enabling girls and boys to become productive and active citizens. He further clarified that education offers opportunity and counters the forces of extremism and violence. This has been the shared perspective of Global March Against Child Labor, a worldwide movement of national organizations, networks and trade unions in more than 100 countries. These organizations also applaud the Presidentís vision on the expansion of education for the disadvantaged and hardest to reach children, particularly girls who are the very foundation of nurturing creative communities, as well as specifically his mentioning the Fast Track Initiative on Education for All.

The Global March welcomes the Presidentís intention to appoint a new Coordinator for Basic Education. "Once again we are surprised that the
President has not matched his words with enhanced financing. How can a world leader speak so loudly about education as one of the fundamental
pillars of policy for international development assistance without signing the checks" asked Kailash Satyarthi, the Chairperson of the Global
March Against Child Labor. "It is like being most liberal in words and a miser in action. An additional 105 million USD annually is like offering
cumin seeds in the mouth of a camel,Ē he said.

In real terms the support of USD 300 million to the African Education Initiative is proposed until 2010. This is in addition to the USD 300 million given in 2002. However, common sense says that the money given in 2002 should logically have run out by now. Therefore, the additional USD 300 million does not amount to an increase in the aggregate total of US spending on Basic Education of USD 460 million. At the same time, the USD 525 million announced for the next five years will bring an additional USD 105 million to the Education for All annually.

The White House did a commendable work in articulating the importance of Basic Education. It is notable that three Presidential contenders in
the race for 2008 have already outlined that investing in the Basic Education Initiative will be one of their priorities. If the White House
does not listen to these voices in a timely manner then it will be another missed opportunity for this President.

The international community has committed to educate all children and to halve adult illiteracy by 2015. Still, one out of six people in the world, including 80 million children, have never seen classrooms. Eleven Billion USD, which is equivalent to 3 days of global annual military expenditure, is good enough to educate our children.


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