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Human Rights Denied: Obama Leaves 75 Million Children Behind

"A well-resourced Global Fund for Education in 2010 will bring the world one giant step closer to assuring human rights for all." - Dr. Paul Zeitz

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today is International Human Rights Day, commemorating the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states (in Article 26): "Everyone has the right to education [and] education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages."

The following is a statement by Global AIDS Alliance executive director, Dr. Paul Zeitz:

We have a long way to go to ensure that all children are able to realize their human rights to a basic education. Right now there are more than 75 million primary aged children worldwide who have no access to schooling. (To put that number in perspective, there are 75 million children under the age of 17 in the United States.) Further, 226 million adolescents will never attend secondary school: the cumulative effect of this is that there are an estimated 776 million adults worldwide who are illiterate.

Education is perhaps the most leveraged single development investment that a country in the global north can make, creating outcomes that are essential to the protection of human rights everywhere. We know that it promotes quality of life and employability for individuals; fosters strong, stable democratic governments; paves the way for growth of GDP; and in doing so, helps assure regional and global security for all nations.

We also know that education save lives in many ways: African children of mothers who complete primary school are 50 percent more likely to live beyond the age of five. Women who are educated marry later and have fewer children who are healthier, including better-spaced pregnancies that reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. When girls are in school, the onset of sexual activity and marriage is often delayed, giving them better life skills and more confidence to say no to sexual activity.

During his campaign for the Presidency, Mr. Obama acknowledged the importance of basic education and committed, if elected, to establish a Global Fund for Education with a U.S. contribution in year one of at least $2 billion. This is a promise he broke in his FY10 budget and looks poised to break in his FY11 budget request (due in February 2010). In Ghana, he again demonstrated his short-sighted approach to the economic crisis in Africa when he completely omitted education from his speech on development and governance. [See GAA fact sheet on Obama's broken campaign promises, linked below.]

2010 is a critical year. It is the last year to get all kids into school if the world is going to achieve Millennium Development Goal #2 by 2015, which calls for ensuring that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling.

President Obama still has the opportunity to make his mark to meet that goal. By following through on his commitment to establish a Global Fund for Education and providing $2 billion in his next budget, the U.S. could reinvigorate the global compact on education. By backing up strong words with financing, President Obama would be able to leverage significant new dollars from other G8 and G20 countries for this initiative.

A well-resourced Global Fund for Education in 2010 will bring the world one giant step closer to assuring human rights for all.


GAA Fact Sheet on Obama's Broken Promises

SOURCE Global AIDS Alliance

SOURCE Global AIDS Alliance
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