Although most American children learn to read as kindergarteners, worldwide, almost 40 percent of children under age 12 cannot read a simple sentence or understand basic math.

For girls in low-income countries, education changes the trajectory of their lives: they are less likely to become child brides, their earning power increases 20 percent for each year of schooling after fourth grade and their future children are twice as likely to live to age 5.

The benefits of educating the world’s poorest children also extend to Americans: education fosters new export markets because developing countries account for a large percentage of U.S. exports. The economic loss due to the 250 million children who cannot read is estimated at $129 billion each year, the equivalent of 10 percent of global spending on primary education.

We can change this now by investing in the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), an organization proven effective at getting kids in quality schools and improving gender parity. This June, the GPE is seeking $3.5 billion from donor countries. The U.S. should do its part and pledge $250 million over the next two years.

Debbie Baskin

Salt Lake City