“All of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century.”
One year ago today, President Obama delivered a speech in Cairo titled “A New Beginning.” The President reminded us in his remarks that “change cannot happen overnight” and that while much anticipated, it was only a speech. But here at the Department of Education, the President’s words catalyzed much change in the past year.
Secretary Duncan has led ED in active engagement with the Muslim world at home and abroad. Senior ED officials have traveled to Morocco, Qatar, Pakistan, Egypt and Ethiopia this year. Secretary Duncan blogged at for the White House about a video conference he held with students from Washington DC and Jordan and led a panel on youth entrepreneurship with colleagues from Pakistan, Indonesia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. Secretary Duncan has met with Ministers of Education from around the world, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Last June, ED’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education joined the State Department and U.S. AID in hosting a conference on community and technical colleges in Amman, Jordan. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Pakistan, and Jordan are among the countries working with U.S. institutions to connect education and workforce development in high-tech, high-demand fields. ED collaborated with State to launch a small grants program to support institutional partnerships between US community colleges and technical colleges in the BMENA region, which was announced by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as part of a portfolio of programs designed to improve educational and economic opportunities in Muslim-majority nations.
The Cooperative Civic Education and Economic Education Exchange Program provides grants to improve the quality of civic and economic education through cooperative exchange programs with emerging democracies. Currently, there are CCEEEEP-funded projects in Azerbaijan, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Uzbekistan.
ED has supported engagement with the Muslim world for many years and often decades through programs and exchanges. ED’s National Resource Centers, Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad, Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad, Centers for International Business Education, Foreign Language and Area Studies, Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad, Americans Overseas Research Centers, Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program, Business and International Education and Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access are all opportunities for global engagement. These grants can support projects that develop, maintain, or enhance linkages with overseas institutions of higher education or other educational organizations in areas with substantial Muslim populations in order to improve understanding of these societies and provide for greater engagement with institutions in these areas. Or they send students, teachers and faculty overseas for language instruction, group research or study, and other purposes. These grants support foreign language instruction in the US and business education abroad. This year, these programs supported engagement with Muslim majority countries across the globe.
ED’s Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnership has reached out to Muslim communities in the U.S. in a variety of ways, including visits with Muslim students, parents and faith leaders from California to Illinois, Arkansas to Washington DC.
“We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning.”
Here at the Department of Education, we have tried to use the power that we have to make a new beginning for young people in the United States and across the world. This is the President’s challenge, and we will continue to work toward the vision he expressed in Cairo.
Office of the Secretary