Obamas encourage world to Let girls learn At left. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama announce their Let Girls Learn initiative (AP photo / Thinkstock)
Obamas encourage world to Let girls learn
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Saying every girl "has value," President Barack Obama has announced a more focused government effort to help tens of millions of girls around the world attend and stay in school. Michelle Obama said she will go to Japan and Cambodia to promote it.

The president said that, as the father of "two fabulous, extraordinary, awesome young women," he wants to help make sure that "no girl out there is denied her chance to be a strong, capable woman." Yet more than 60 million girls are being denied schooling for a variety of reasons, he said.

Obama said the U.S. works quietly to support educating girls, but its many programs must become a single, coordinated strategy.

"We're making it clear to any country that's our partner or wants to be our partner that they need to get serious about increasing the number of girls in school," Obama said, announcing the "Let Girls Learn" initiative at the White House with the first lady standing beside him.

Mrs. Obama said the issue is personal for her because "I see myself in these girls. I see our daughters in these girls."

The Obamas are parents of teenagers Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13, and say their own successes would have been impossible without education. During their travels, they encourage young people to focus on education; in the U.S., Mrs. Obama urges students to pursue education after high school.

As part of the effort, Mrs. Obama said her office and the Peace Corps will work jointly to highlight community-based solutions.

The Peace Corps already has thousands of volunteers at work in more than 60 developing countries. Its "Let Girls Learn" program will begin in Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo and Uganda.

Mrs. Obama will travel to Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, from March 18-20 and Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia from March 21-22, the White House said.

The first lady said she will visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife, Akie, "who also shares our passion for girls' education and is eager to partner with us in this work."

In Cambodia, Mrs. Obama said she will meet with Peace Corps volunteers and visit a school where "community-driven solutions are changing girls' lives."

Cambodia is an interesting choice for the first lady.

Barack Obama reluctantly became the first U.S. president to visit Cambodia in late 2012. At the time, White House officials insisted that Obama was only going to the southeast Asian nation because Cambodia was the host for two annual regional summits he has made a point of attending.

Cambodia has been led since 1985 by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has a reputation for ruthlessness and a low tolerance for opposition.

Mrs. Obama said the new initiative is as much about students in the U.S. as it is about educating girls abroad. She said she wants to help youngsters in America learn about the sacrifices girls around the world make to get their education.

"I want our young people to be awed by these girls, but more importantly I want them to be inspired and motivated by these girls," Mrs. Obama said.

Critical thinking challenge: Why do the President and First Lady think it is important to focus on this issue?

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COMMENTS (49)
  • victorl-Gon
    3/10/2015 - 12:30 p.m.

    I think every kid should have an education. Although I do agree with obama every girl does deserve an education, whether it be in the world or a country.

  • nicholas.jones07
    3/10/2015 - 12:58 p.m.

    I think that letting girls learn is awesome. They deserve to have a education too. More than 80% of girls in Africa don't know how to read and write. I think that's where they should go next.

  • Kaitlynpo-Fre
    3/10/2015 - 01:03 p.m.

    I like that people are focusing on the issue that not everybody is getting an equal education opportunity. Obviously it will be better in some countries than others, but that can develop over time. At least let everybody have an opportunity to be exposed to the education that is possible for their location. The fact that the President and First Lady are acting on this issue means that something is being done. I hope that soon, there won't even need to be advocates for it and that everybody will already have equal education opportunity. I hope that their visit to Cambodia stirs something up that girls will finally be able to have the same education.

  • JM2001april
    3/11/2015 - 08:48 a.m.

    They find this issue important because they themselves have 2 daughters and think that they and other girls around the world deserve an education.

  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    3/12/2015 - 10:38 a.m.

    It is important for women and younger girls to learn because many professions are now more modern and hire woman who will work equally hard as the man. Its also good to educate the women because it needs to be fair for both men and women to e treated equally.

  • KiaraH_EAHS
    3/12/2015 - 10:55 a.m.

    My opinion about " Obamas encourage world to " Let girls learn " .Yes , I think it some good advise . Not to many people care about girls learning or trying to help them succeeded . Unless your really smart . Colleges mainly look at the boys because their good in sports and that's what they want people for so they can make there school look better then what they're by the sport team . No , I haven't . Yes , i would like to travel and see how it is . No , i wouldn't have i don't think i would be able to pull something together like this .

  • 8chasityx
    3/12/2015 - 10:30 p.m.

    Ask questions: why was this a sudden topic that came up about young women?
    How do their daughters feel about this?
    Do a lot of other places around the world agree to their descion?

  • CapeleyZ-1
    3/12/2015 - 11:34 p.m.

    This article was about how the government and more specifically Mr. And Mrs. Obama are trying to provide education to more girls across the world. The president said that this project was especially close to him because she has two teenage daughters and he sees them in the millions of girls without the option of education. The Obamas are partnering with many world leaders to try and bring education to more girls. I think that it is very cool that our government is trying to put more education in the lives of people around the world.

  • 9rachelm
    3/12/2015 - 11:40 p.m.

    The President thinks it is important to focus on this issue so that "no girl out there is denied her chance to be a strong, capable woman." The First Lady see herself, and her daughters in the young girls without education.

  • 1GracieH
    3/13/2015 - 12:31 p.m.

    I will have a lot to say about this.

    I like how Barack Obama is taking a stand in having a government take a little bit more consideration in letting girls go to school. Why are there girls that can't even go to school? Is it a crime? Obama said having two girls of his own has made him come to realize that there are a lot of girls who really don't get the education that they should get, so Michele and Barack are spreading the word to let girls learn!

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