Thursday, May 31, 2007

President Bush Discusses U. S. International Development Agenda

Read the full speech made at the United States Global Leadership Council on May 31.

The President stressed the importance of trade, and of opening of trade relations. He described the effort made by the United States and other nations of the G8 to reduce the debt burden of poor nations. Since 2001 U.S. development spending across the world has increased
from about $10 billion in 2000, to $23 billion in 2006. It's the largest increase in development assistance since the Marshall Plan..... The first four years of my administration, we doubled our assistance to Africa. At the G8 summit in 2005, I promised our assistance to Africa would double once again by 2010.
President Bush described three key goals of foreign assistance:
  • to help developing countries build democratic and accountable institutions and strengthen their civil societies,
  • to improve education, and
  • to fight the scourge of disease in Africa and other parts of the developing world.
Here is the specific wording of the discussion of the education priority:

All of this will go for naught if people don't have a good education. So the second way we're using our aid is to improve education so that the young in the developing world have the tools they need to realize their God-given potential. Many parents across the world either have no access to education for their children, or simply cannot afford it. It's a fact of life, something the world needs to deal with, particularly those of us who have got some money.

In many nations, girls have even less educational opportunity. It robs them of a chance to satisfy their ambitions or to make use of their talents and skills, and it's really sad, when you think about it. It really is. The question is, does the United States care? Should we do something about it? And the answer is, absolutely. If boys and girls in Africa and other developing nations don't learn how to read, write, and add and subtract, this world is just going to move on without them. And all the aid efforts we'll be trying will go to naught, in my judgment.

And so in 2002, I launched the African Education Initiative to help address the great need. Through this initiative, we have provided about $300 million to expand educational opportunities throughout the continent, and we're going to provide another $300 million by 2010. We will have doubled our commitment........

And we need to do more, for not only children on the continent of Africa, but poor children throughout the world. And so I'm calling on Congress to fund $525 million over the next five years to make our educational initiatives even more robust. And the goal is to provide basic education for 4 million additional children on the continent of Africa and across the globe.

We've got another interesting idea, and that is to establish new Communities of Opportunity centers in poor nations to provide skills and language training for 100,000 at-risk youth; giving these young people in these countries the skills they need to succeed, we're going to give them keys to a brighter future.

The speech concluded:

The initiatives I've discussed today are making a difference in the lives of millions; our fellow citizens have got to understand that. We're talking about improving lives in a real, tangible way that ought to make our country proud. That's why we've asked these folks to come. It's one thing for the President to be talking about stories; it's another thing for the people to see firsthand what our help has done.

I'm so proud of the United States of America. This initiative shows the good character and the decency of the American people. We are a decent people. We feel responsible for helping those who are less fortunate. And I am proud to be the President of such a good nation.

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