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Feinstein Dear Colleague on School Fees
5/28/2004
May 13, 2004

 

Dear Colleague:

Please join me in signing the attached letter to Senator McConnell and Senator Leahy urging them to include $250 million in the FY 2005 Foreign Operations appropriations bill to support the elimination of school fees in the poorest nations on earth.

According to UNICEF, millions of primary school age children in the world -- 65 million of them girls - do not attend school.  One of the biggest barriers to education is the charging of school fees in many developing nations.  In areas where many people live on less than a dollar a day, such fees present an insurmountable hurdle for families struggling to put food on the table.  For children who have lost their parents to AIDS, these fees are an additional cruelty.

We know from experience that dropping school fees increases enrollment.

In Kenya, more than a million students gained access to education after the new government eliminated primary school fees in January 2003.  In addition each additional year of schooling beyond grade three or four can lead to up to 20 percent higher wages and up to 10 percent fewer child deaths.

With all the heartbreak and hardship endured by children who have lost parents to AIDS and other diseases, we must find ways to restore hope that they will not only survive, but have a chance for a brighter future.  I urge you to sign the attached letter to Senator McConnell and Senator Leahy.  If you have any questions or if you would like to sigh, please do not hesitate to contact me or have your staff contact Rich Harper of my office at (202) 224-3841,

 

Sincerely,

 

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

 

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Dear Senator McConnell and Senator Leahy:

We are writing today in support of accelerated action to reverse the tragic situation for more than 100 million children around the world, the majority of them girls, who never get the chance to go to school.  In many of the poorest countries, school fees are effectively keeping millions of children out of school.  The results are devastating.  These children, especially girls, orphans and other vulnerable children, are denied the hope of learning and of making a better future.  At the same time, the lack of education translates into slowed economic growth and stunted democratic development in many nations.

Eliminating public primary school fees is an incredibly important step toward ensuring access to education for all children.  Eliminating school fees has immediate and dramatic impact on expanding the number of children entering school, and especially the opportunities for girls and AIDS orphans to enter the classroom.  In Kenya, more than a million students gained access to education after the new government eliminated primary school fees in January 2003.  The Kenyan government also used the opportunity of eliminating fees to institute important reforms and scale-up efforts.

Eliminating school fees costs relatively little to catalyze dramatic expansion of educational opportunity.  Eliminating fees, as in Kenya, also increases political attention on schools and helps to catalyze new domestic and donor investment to expand and improve the quality of schools.

School fees are one of the leading household expenditures in many of the world's poorest nations, costing poor families up to one-quarter of household income.  Many mothers dying from HIV are most concerned with who will pay their children's school fees.  Indeed, the inability to pay school fees is the biggest reason that families are reluctant to adopt AIDS orphans.  Eliminating fees will also dramatically reduce the risk of girls contracting HIV because of the close link between schooling and reducing rates of HIV.

A basic education incentive fund of $250 million could provide more than five million children access to educational opportunity for the first time. UNICEF, which is already playing a leading role with governments around the world to address educational and health needs of children, would be an extremely effective mechanism to spearhead the elimination of school fees.

We believe investing in a fund to eliminate school fees would have immense impact and leverage.  We urge you to include $250 million for a basic education incentive fund within your 2005 foreign operations bill, in addition to bilateral basic education funding, to support the elimination of school fees in the poorest nations on earth

 



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