Students from the Islamic Saudi Academy in Mount Vernon and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland traveled to the US Capitol Reflecting Pool on Monday to urge the US to fund the Education for All Act.
Students from both schools showed their support of the Global Campaign for Education, US Chapter's (GCE-US) campaign for Universal Basic Education for All, which aims to make global education a development priority. As members of affiliate organization School Girls United, the girls used blue ribbons collected by GCE-US to spell out "Education for All," drawing attention to the need to invest in education. Each ribbon was labeled by students across the country with reasons why education is important. The students then met with a State Department official to urge the US to invest in quality education for all.
"The world is looking to the US to see if we will continue to sit on the sidelines or we will stand and lead other nations in this smart investment," said Brian Callahan of GCE-US in a statement. "We ask that Congress and the Obama Administration listen to these students — here today to plea for their future and the futures of their peers across the world — and commit to Education for All."
Today, approximately 70 million children across the globe are denied access to basic education. High rates of primary education are correlated with lower rates of food insecurity, and just four years of primary schooling can boost a farmers' productivity by nearly 9 percent. And although more than half of the world's out-of-school children live in conflict-affected states, less than half of basic education funding is directed to these states. The less education a student receives, the higher the likelihood the student will become involved in conflict.
"I've received a quality education because of the country that I live in, but I think that all children in all countries should also have access to education," said Kareema Nahavandi, an Islamic Saudi Academy student whose dream it is to become a pediatrician.
Elijah Mamadou Coulibaly, a student at Parkland Middle School who emigrated from Mali and participated in Monday's event with his sister, reflected on his personal experience in Mali — a country where many boys are recruited as child soldiers — and said, "The more education you get the more power you get, the more power you feel. It will give every child the sense that they can achieve whatever they want to achieve, and be the best that they can be."