AFT - American Federation of Teachers

Shortcut Navigation:
Email ShareThis

Education for All

The AFT supports the principle that access to a high-quality basic education is a right, not a privilege.

Over 150 World leaders gathered at the United Nations Millennium summit in 2000 and committed themselves to a set of time-bound targets for alleviating poverty and inequality, and for increasing access to education. Among the goals adopted is the target of ensuring that children everywhere will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015.

Since the Millennium Development Goals were adopted a decade ago, great progress has been made toward providing all children with access to education by 2015. The number of children out of school has fallen by 33 million since 2002. However, progress has been much slower than hoped, and the global economic crisis that struck in 2008 has created new obstacles. Today, 72 million children are still denied the chance to go to school—limiting their future opportunities and undermining the economic well-being of their nations. If current trends continue, 56 million children still will be out of school in 2015.

The lost opportunities seem simple to many U.S. students. Nalique Hepburn, a sixth-grade student at Columbia Elementary School in Palm Bay, Fla., puts it this way: “Who knows, if you educate all of the children, one of these children might be the next person to find the cure for cancer, become an astronaut or even become president. After all, President Obama couldn’t have become president if he didn’t have an education.”

The AFT is a proud member of the U.S. chapter of the Global Campaign for Education. GCE was founded in 1999 when more than 200 citizen and teacher organizations around the world joined together to advocate for universal access to education. This nonprofit coalition—whose members now include nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), community-based groups and trade unions from 180 countries—works with governments around the world to fulfill the promise of free, high-quality basic education for all children.


The Global Campaign for Education and RESULTS have produced several concise fact sheets on Education for All, which provide a good background on the benefits of educating all children.

This two-page Education for All Act Fact Sheet (PDF) outlines the provisions and benefits of U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey’s Education for All Act.

UNESCO’s Education for All website provides useful information on the six goals of Education for All  and 10 fast facts about EFA.

The EFA Global Monitoring Report 2010: Reaching the Marginalized (UNESCO) outlines the progress that has been made since 2000 on Education for All goals, and lays out the work that remains to be done if we are to meet the 2015 EFA deadline. It also addresses the severe impacts of the fiscal crisis on EFA funding. A summary of the report’s findings, produced by RESULTS, can be found here.

The Blue Ribbon Campaign, which runs from now through May 8, is a grass-roots effort to build an understanding that education is the key to economic development, social stability and vibrant democratic governance.