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Obama Makes $2 Billion 'Education For All' Pledge

Sen. Barack Obama wants to spend $2 billion to eliminate the international "education gap" by 2015, which is, incidentally, one year after all American kids are supposed to be proficient in reading and math under NCLB.

In a speech he gave today via satellite to the Clinton Global Initiative, he said: "Above all, we must do our part to see that all children have the basic right to learn. There is nothing more disappointing than a child denied the hope that comes with going to school, and there is nothing more dangerous than a child who is taught to distrust and then to destroy."

Obama's pledge of $2 billion almost seems like a drop in the bucket as Congress considers a $700 billion plan to bailout the troubled financial markets.

In announcing this effort, Obama is borrowing from Sen. Hillary Clinton's Education for All Act, first introduced in 2004. (Obama gave her credit in his speech, calling her a "true champion for children.") Then, she estimated that the cost of universal, basic education for children throughout the world at $5 billion to $10 billion a year. As a presidential candidate, she proposed spending $3 billion a year by 2012.

2015, by the way, is the goal set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to achieve universal free education worldwide. According to UNESCO, an estimated 72 million children worldwide were out of school in 2005, down from 96 million in 1999. Girls account for a large portion of those numbers: 66 percent of out-of-school children in South and West Asia were girls.

When Sen. John McCain addressed the meeting in New York earlier this morning, he didn't mention education, although he did pledge to lead the world in improving child and maternal health.

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