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. The effort would focus on girls attending and staying 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 they need to get serious about increasing the number of girls in school," Obama said. He announced the "Let Girls Learn" initiative. He was at the White House with the first lady standing beside him.

Mrs. Obama said the issue is personal for her.

"I see myself in these girls. I see our daughters in these girls."

The Obamas are parents of teenagers Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13. The Obamas say their own success 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. They want to highlight community-based solutions.

The Peace Corps already has thousands of volunteers at work. They are stationed 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. Then she will go to Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia from March 21-22.

The first lady said she will visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife, Akie. The Japanese first lady "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. She will visit a school where "community-driven solutions are changing girls' lives."

Cambodia is an interesting choice for the first lady.

In late 2012, Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Cambodia. Cambodia has been led since 1985 by Prime Minister Hun Sen. He has a reputation for ruthlessness. There is 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 (67)
  • matthewsh-And
    3/10/2015 - 12:51 p.m.

    For the first time i actually agree with Obama and Michelle because i think every girl has the right to learn as any boy. So i think every country and school should let girls learn.

  • DC1024Kaiser
    3/10/2015 - 12:58 p.m.

    I dont under stand woman learn as much as men do in America. But Obama has no control of what to do with the world it is the other presidents or empore to choose.

  • mackinzy.oneil65
    3/10/2015 - 12:59 p.m.

    This is great, this needs to be heard. My friend wants to be a professional basketball player and she is a girl, her teacher asked every kid in the class what they wanted to be when they grow up and how they would start working their way to that goal. My friend told the teacher that she wanted to be a professional basketball player and the teacher said that was pretty unlikely. I think just because of our gender and what gender most people play for a sport, you have to be certain gender to play. I think she was thinking and many think that because she is a girl she will never be able to play basketball because it's a boy type of sport. I told her to never give up and she can do whatever her heart desires.

  • ce2001blue
    3/10/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    The President and First Lady think it is important to focus on the issue because people and different countries around the world look down on women and girls. They think that men are more superior than women. They believe that women should only cook, clean, and mother and stay in the house. This is a very stereo typical belief. Women should have the right to do the things men learn and do too. So they can live up in the world and succeed too, to be greatest as possible.

  • miyahm-Gon
    3/10/2015 - 01:07 p.m.

    I understand what Obama is trying to get across to the world. But the world is paying more attention to girls because girls use to have to learn by themselves now they dont have to. I just think its because he has 2 girls he wants them to learn more.

  • JB000blue
    3/10/2015 - 01:07 p.m.

    This is really cool she is going around the world helping other people and this is very good. Plus this gives us a chance, Which is awesome.

  • mickenzien-And
    3/10/2015 - 01:52 p.m.

    I think it is really cool that Obama and his wife are stepping to let girls go to school and learn. It makes me sad that some girls aren't as lucky as us in the USA.

  • jacquelinec-DiB
    3/10/2015 - 02:45 p.m.

    I think it's a good idea to have programs for girls in combodia and other parts of the country because In my opinion we are all equal and have same rights as everyone so I don't see why their should be a change because of females not getting enough education

  • cathleenw-And
    3/10/2015 - 03:57 p.m.

    The president and first lady think its important because everyone deserves to learn. It wouldn't be fair for boys to be smart and have an education, and girls will just be having to stay at home with no education.

  • AinsleyW-Kut
    3/10/2015 - 05:07 p.m.

    I think its awesome that they are trying to get more girls into schools! Even though sometimes others and i complain about school, i know our chances at a good future wouldn't be as high without school and the great teachers. All children deserve and education no matter who they are or what they look like. It also sounds like this project will brng people closer together, like how the Japanese First Lady and our First Lady are working together on this project to help girls get into to schools and get set on the right path of a good future.

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