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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of African Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2006: African Affairs Remarks

Corporate Social Responsibility: Advancing Education in Africa through Public & Private Partnerships

Jendayi E. Frazer, Assistant Secretary
Remarks to the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help at the 25th Anniversary Celebration
Scottsdale, Arizona
September 25, 2006

Good evening, and thank you, Frank Fountain, for that warm introduction. It's a pleasure to join all of you in sunny Arizona for this special occasion. I am honored to be here with the distinguished event hosts, the honorable Ambassadors, and especially with the Sullivan family. I especially want to acknowledge Dr. Julie Sullivan, President and CEO of the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH) who invited me this evening and whose service over two decades is behind the success of IFESH's International Fellows Programs and the Teachers for Africa (TFA) program.

As some of you may know, over the past week I've been in New York, where the White House and State Department teams have been busy with the United Nations General Assembly meetings that have been taking place with various heads of state, foreign ministers and other dignitaries. I also had the honor of hosting a special education forum for African first ladies and ministers of education that Dr. Sarah Moten helped to facilitate. We discussed common challenges shared by many African countries: literacy, HIV/AIDS prevention education, teacher-training and girls' education – all areas in which IFESH has significant expertise and experience and has contributed so much to Africa over the past 25 years.

One of the wonderful aspects of the UNGA sessions is that policy makers from around the world gather in one place to discuss our mutual concerns and exchange information about best practices. It is a designated time to meet with partners and discuss progress toward shared geo-strategic goals—at the global, national, and local levels.

Another indirect consequence of meeting with government officials and non-governmental groups is that the headlines we typically see splashed across news magazines and television screens become real; in spite of great physical distance, we encounter news reports in the flesh.

The problems we've read about become issues affecting individual people with faces we know, people who are remarkably familiar. In the middle of a meeting, you might find yourself wondering, how do we improve the lives of families in our own countries and across the developing world? And how do we do so in a socially responsible way? How do we do so with the urgency and empathy required?

Everyone agrees that children should grow up with access to education and without fear of life-altering illnesses, like HIV/AIDS. But for African children, these ideals are not yet a reality. The big question for policy makers is: how do we get there?

As we gather today to mark the 25 th anniversary of IFESH, we must remember Dr. Leon Sullivan, who sought to help us answer these questions by introducing the Global Sullivan Principles for corporations. At their core, these guidelines are about recognizing that we are all part of one extended family; we are all responsible for the well-being of others, both near and far; and that even small actions can have large, positive repercussions.

Through the legacy of Dr. Leon Sullivan and the continued work of Dr. Julie Sullivan we have practical solutions that work –

  • Self-help community-based education development programs work
  • Empowering local communities with decision-making authority works
  • Introducing HIV awareness clubs in teacher-training colleges in Ghana works
  • Establishing Peace Clubs within schools in Nigeria 's high conflict areas works.

All represent best practices that should be shared broadly by IFESH throughout Africa not just the eleven countries of its current operations.

Mahatma Gandhi famously advised that, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” That has one meaning on a personal level, but it raises a host of challenges when applied to a broader context. The two most important implications are, first, the primacy of partnerships with people in any affected area, and second, the importance of collaboration in terms of maximizing positive results, and this is where everyone in this room has a role to play.

Over the last five years, the United States Government has taken great strides toward strengthening our relationship with Africa and its people – increasing our funding for health, education, and economic development programs – but to truly succeed, we need to spur engagement at all levels, involving schools, houses of worship, businesses, and non-governmental organizations.

For example, in his 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush announced the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a $15 billion program with a five-year horizon. In introducing PEPFAR, he characterized it as “a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts to help the people of Africa . . . turn the tide against AIDS."

The Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator oversees implementation, and they have continued to report increases in the number of lives we are touching daily. As of September 30, 2005, PEPFAR was treating 500,000 people up from 50,000 in 2003; supporting care for nearly 3 million people, including: more than 1.2 million orphans and vulnerable children; caring for over 1.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS; and supported counseling and testing for over 9.4 million people. The numbers are impressive; that success stems in part from productive partnerships with African governments and non-governmental groups, including IFESH's work with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Nigeria preventing Mother to Child HIV Transmission.

The President has additionally launched the African Education Initiative, a $600 million commitment that has already helped train more than 400,000 teachers in sub-Saharan Africa again through collaboration with IFESH. He also launched the $5 billion over 3 years Millennium Challenge Account to promote economic development and growth in Africa, and a $1.2 billion initiative aimed at eliminating malaria, which continues to plague communities in sub-Saharan Africa, in spite of improved technology.

Most recently, First Lady Laura Bush announced a new potable water project last week, at the Clinton Global Initiative's annual conference. The lack of clean water is a major health challenge. As Mrs. Bush noted, a child dies every 15 seconds due to diseases carried by unsafe drinking water or poor sanitation. More than 288 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to improved drinking water sources, and it is especially important for HIV-positive individuals to have access to clean drinking water, in order to remain healthy and avoid infection.

The United States Government has promised to contribute $10 million toward this new $60 million alliance. The program will work with 10 sub-Saharan nations to bring the benefits of clean drinking water to up to 10 million people by 2010. I would like to note that this program is being funded through a public-private partnership between the United States Government, PlayPumps International, the Case Foundation, and other public and private sector partners. Such partnerships enable the private sector to lead with innovation and capital. Non-profit groups can implement creative solutions in rural areas sometimes beyond government's reach, and government can offer the resources and experience to take local solutions to a global scale. USAID is already deeply engaged in this way of thinking. The Global Development Alliance represents their commitment to change the way assistance programs are implemented.

This relatively new approach grew out of the recognition that the funding landscape has evolved. In the 1970s, 70 percent of funding from the United States to the developing world was official development assistance, and 30 percent of funds were private. Today, 85 percent of resources that this country sends to the developing world are private, and only 15 percent is public money.

In Angola , for example, USAID has formed a number of productive relationships with private actors. Oil giant Chevron is collaborating with USAID on a municipal development program and an agricultural development and finance program. These projects build on earlier efforts to help Angolans displaced by their civil war return to their homes and either resume farming or take advantage of loans from a new bank geared toward lending to micro, small, and medium sized enterprises.

ExxonMobil is working with USAID to reduce malaria deaths in Angola by 50 percent in the next three years. Over 100,000 houses were sprayed earlier this year to keep mosquitoes at bay, and together with the Ministry of Health and other donors, Exxon recently distributed nearly 900,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets to young children in conjunction with a measles immunization campaign.

Diamond company Lazare Kaplan International has partnered with USAID to support an expansion of the Municipal Development Program to one of Angola 's more remote provinces, and Coca-Cola has contributed money to introduce the Junior Achievement program to Angola 's students. This is an incredible record of achievement. Every one of these programs is producing real benefits for the people of Africa .

As we look toward the year ahead, I hope that all of us see this as only the beginning. I know that IFESH has established many important relationships bringing together private companies like Shell in Nigeria and the World Cocoa Foundation in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire to enhance educational and community development opportunities for youth in Africa .

The Department of State takes the notion of corporate responsibility seriously. In fact, ever since 1999, the Secretary of State has recognized American firms for exemplary business practices, innovation, and good corporate citizenship in their overseas operations through the Secretary's Award for Corporate Excellence program.

Please consider this your personal invitation; our doors are always open, and we would be delighted to discuss how IFESH and other corporations, religious groups, or non-profit organizations here tonight might effectively work with us in addressing the developing challenges in Africa .

In closing, I would simply like to reaffirm that every one of us in this room has the capacity and ability to help bring about change to the world. Each of us, in our own way, can contribute. And if ever you feel doubtful, I would ask you to recall Betty Reese, an American pilot who wisely remarked: “ If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” Thank you for inviting me to join you this evening, and I wish you a successful meeting during the remainder of this 25 th anniversary celebration.

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