Education: the door of hope

OECD Observer

Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States, was the keynote speaker at OECD Forum 2002 on 14 May. The theme of Forum 2002 was taking care of the fundamentals: security, equity, education and growth. All four are important, Mrs Bush told a packed audience that included many high-level guests, but all four hinge on one: education. The following two short extracts are from the First Lady’s speech, the full version of which can be found at

“First and foremost, we must teach all the world’s children to respect human life – their own life, and the life of others. Every parent, every teacher, every leader has a responsibility to condemn the terrible tragedy of children blowing themselves up to kill others.

Education can help children see beyond a world of hate and hopelessness. With education comes greater self-respect, and respect for others. With education comes greater understanding and tolerance.

Education also invites greater equity, because it gives our children the tools they need to succeed in today’s global economy. And education fuels growth, because it unleashes individual creativity and provides the skilled workforce essential to growth and development.” (…)

“There is no better example of governments, businesses and individuals working together than the effort now underway in Afghanistan, a country that is now rebuilding – and realising unprecedented opportunity – thanks to efforts led by the United Nations, the United States, the new Afghan government, and our coalition partners around the world.

Prosperity cannot follow peace without educated women and children. When citizens are educated, and especially when women are educated, people’s lives improve in significant other ways as well. For example, improvements in women’s education have contributed the most by far to the total decline in child malnutrition; and mothers with a secondary education have children with mortality rates nearly 36% lower than mothers with only a primary school education.

In March, the boys and girls of Afghanistan went to school, many of the young girls for the first time in their lives. The world watched as teachers took their long-vacant places and students opened their books for their first lessons.”

©OECD Observer No. 233, August 2002

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