Global Education Update from Capitol Hill
As part of our advocacy to ensure all children and youth access a quality education worldwide, RESULTS has supported the Education for All Act for over a decade. In February of this year, a new version of the bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Dave Reichert (R-WA). A Senate version followed in September, led by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) alongside Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Susan Collins (R-ME).
The Education for All Act (H.R. 4481) requires the U.S. government to develop a comprehensive, integrated strategy to improve access to quality education for children and youth in low-income countries. It looks to address key barriers to school attendance, retention, and completion, and also ensure that children affected by conflict and other emergencies receive an education. Crucially, the bill calls for U.S. support for the Global Partnership for Education, the only multilateral partnership exclusively focused on ensuring access to quality education for all. Over the years, RESULTS has worked with congressional allies to advance key elements of the legislation, and our grassroots advocates pushed to keep global education a priority on Capitol Hill. This latest version of the bill responds to current needs to increase the effectiveness and accountability of U.S. global education programs.
On September 8, 2016, the House of Representatives passed the Education for All Act – the first time the bill had been considered by the full House since being introduced a more than decade ago.
In another first, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Education for All Act unanimously on December 6, 2016. This is remarkable in part because before this year, there had not been a companion bill in the Senate since 2010.
In the end, Congress adjourned for the year before the bill was able to get through the full Senate and back to the House (since the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made a few changes, the House would have had to consider the bill again).
But the work that RESULTS advocates did around the country to advance this legislation and build support for global education this year was remarkable. Throughout the year, volunteers conducted targeted and high-level advocacy that was responsive to what needed to be done to move the bill. The House bill was markedly more bipartisan than in years past, with 14 Republican members and 28 Democrats joining Rep. Lowey on the bill before it passed, including a number of members who had never supported a global education action before. In the Senate, where we no precedent in recent years for support on this bill, 16 Senators cosponsored S.3256, of which seven are members of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. RESULTS grassroots were responsible for more than 30 pieces of media this year on the Education for All Act, with approximately half published in the critical few weeks leading up to Senate consideration.
Perhaps most importantly, the level of awareness of the importance of global education is at a much higher level on Capitol Hill than it has been before. This will be critical as RESULTS heads into our work in 2017 to support global education and the Global Partnership for Education. We are coming from a place of strength and support, with champions prepared to work alongside us to fulfill the right to education for all children and youth worldwide.