Speech

December 3, 2008

As Prepared by John J. Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer

Washington, DC

‘Business Champions for Early Child Development: Building a Healthy and Educated Workforce’

Thank you!  I’m very excited to join so many champions of early childhood education—and so many proponents of healthy children—here this evening. 

  • My parents,
  • and all of my siblings,
  • all of my aunts and uncles,
  • and all of my cousins

were educators, so I grew up understanding early on the great importance of education. 

Yours is a cause we all believe in because, fundamentally, our collective efforts to make the world a better, more prosperous place, begin with the investments we make today in our children. 

At the Millennium Challenge Corporation, we share your enthusiasm for the foundational roles education and health play in

  • economic development,
  • growth,
  • and prosperity. 

As one of most innovative and effective resources in America’s development assistance toolbox, MCC partners with countries worldwide to achieve their country-determined and country-driven strategies to reduce poverty through sustainable economic growth.  To date, we have invested over $6.7 billion in 35 countries in

  • Africa,
  • Central America,
  • Eurasia,
  • and the Pacific. 

And, our partners understand that pulling their citizens out of poverty means investing in their education and health.  Economic development and human development are, after all, inextricably linked.

We see this in two very tangible ways through MCC’s work.

First, we value education and health in our selection process.  MCC partners with countries that are committed

  • to practicing good governance,
  • to promoting economic freedoms, and
  • to investing in their citizens’ health and education. 

Among the 17 indicators we use to select our country partners, we look at such factors as

  • a country’s total public expenditure on health,
  • immunization rates,
  • public expenditure on primary education, and
  • the primary education completion rate among girls. 

Consider the fact that providing girls one extra year of education beyond the average increases future wages up to 20 percent.  From the very start of our engagement with partner countries at MCC, we make education and health integral parts of our successful partnerships.

And, second, we value education and health in the programs we fund.  Our partner countries themselves are asking us to fund health and education programs as part of their MCC compacts and threshold programs.  MCC is investing almost $500 million (—half a billion dollars—) in

  • health,
  • education, and
  • basic community services

in our 18 compact partner countries.  Of this amount, almost $350 million supports educational projects in

  • El Salvador,
  • Ghana,
  • Mongolia,
  • Morocco,
  • Burkina Faso, and
  • Namibia. 

These projects, in particular, are

  • motivating educational policy reforms,
  • upgrading educational institutions,
  • expanding technical and vocational education and training, and
  • improving access to education and its overall quality. 

In late October, I saw the transformative power of education firsthand when I commissioned one of the hundreds of schools that will be renovated or built through Ghana’s $547 million MCC compact. 

In the joy of the children and the enthusiasm of the teachers, I could already see how MCC investments in education are making a difference.  Investing in education enhances future earnings and employment opportunities for students, while contributing to overall

  • human development,
  • economic growth, and
  • poverty reduction. 

This is a goal that motivates your work as much as ours at the Millennium Challenge Corporation.  It is what drives our country partners to ask us to fund their programs to equip and empower their children with

  • the skills,
  • the education, and
  • the good health

they need to be productive members of a thriving economy when they grow up.  The private sector—the true engine of economic development—needs a skilled workforce to succeed, and that workforce, in turn, needs to be healthy and educated, in the first place, to prosper.  

  • As girls learn in new classrooms in Burkina Faso,
  • as students in Ghana see their renovated schools for the first time,
  • as immunization rates soar in Indonesia as nearly three million children under the age of one receive measles and DPT3 vaccines—

all through MCC’s support—we know we are preparing the next generation to win the fight against poverty and economic despair by investing in their education and health today.

With our partners worldwide—with friends like you here tonight—the Millennium Challenge Corporation has been and will remain committed to education and health as building blocks for sustainable economic development that will increase the standard of living and improve the quality of life of the world’s poor in truly meaningful and lasting ways.

Thank you so much for your interest in MCC’s work in education and health and for inviting me here tonight!