November 15, 2017 (Charlottesville, VA)- The Global Leadership Forum (GLF): Promoting Gender Equality in Education convened rising leaders from more than 20 countries, who are working to ensure that women and girls have equal access to education. The GLF was sponsored by Tupperware Brands Corporation and organized by the Presidential Precinct.
Basic Education Coalition Communications & Outreach Manager, Beth Johnson, attended the forum as a facilitator for roundtable discussions. She heard participants’ perspectives on the value of U.S. support for international basic education programs in the developing world. One young man from Mozambique asserted that the U.S. should not continue funding programs in certain countries until stem corruption and increase measures for accountability at the national level. However, the vast majority of participants adamantly urged continuation of U.S. support for international education.
When asked to articulate the returns to U.S. taxpayers on investments in foreign education, participants cited the extensive material and human capital resources in the developing world, especially Africa. One participant pointed out, “If the U.S. does not maintain their role as leader in global education, another country will step in and they will be the ones to benefit from future trade. The Chinese are already there building infrastructure, but education is what truly influences minds and hearts.” They asserted that if young people in the developing world can acquire academic and entrepreneurial skills, they will build businesses in their own countries, contribute to the global economy, and ultimately decrease reliance on foreign aid.
To ensure equal opportunity to quality education for girls, participants suggested broadening the focus of programs beyond primary to include secondary education, when young women too often drop out. They also wanted to see more leadership opportunities for both girls and boys, and more vocational skills-building programs, so that educated young women and men can find meaningful employment upon graduation. When reminded that foreign assistance funding is limited, the emerging leaders pleaded, “if U.S. policy-makers want to know the return on their investment in girls’ education, just take us to talk to them. They will recognize the value within minutes.”