As the world watches a new Congress and Administration assume power in the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives took an important step forward in prioritizing global access to education.
On January 23, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) introduced the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act, or READ Act (H.R.601), which the House of Representatives swiftly passed the following day. Formerly known as the Education for All Act, which came close to passage in 2016, this legislation will help ensure that children everywhere have access to a quality education.
“Jesuit Refugee Service is rooted in the belief that education is key to recovery from conflict and provides hope for the future. Without education, children are vulnerable to exploitation and cannot fulfill their potential,” said Fr. Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., Interim Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.
The READ Act was developed to help address the need for access to education for the globally displaced by ensuring that the U.S. has a comprehensive, integrated strategy that improves global educational opportunities for vulnerable children, including those affected by conflict and other emergencies; and facilitates improved coordination within the U.S. government via a Senior Coordinator of U.S. International Basic Education Assistance.
Of the six million primary and secondary school-age refugees under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 3.7 million are not in school. Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children, as the obstacles to full access to education are considerable. Yet, during emergencies and in protracted crises, schools are essential for healing and health and provide opportunity and hope for the future.
Over the past year, JRS/USA has mobilized thousands of people across the U.S. to express their support for refugee education and continued U.S. engagement in ensuring that the most vulnerable have access to a quality education.
With approval secured in the House of Representatives, we now look forward to passage in the Senate and working with Congress and the Administration to fully realize the benefits of the READ Act, which will move us one step closer to ensuring that no one is denied the right to an education.