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Cabinet Member Notes Education Progress in Iraq, Afghanistan

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2005 – Great progress has been made in developing education systems in Iraq and Afghanistan, but much more remains to be done, the U.S. education secretary said here today.

In a Pentagon Channel interview, Margaret Spellings said an improved education system is one of the most important things the United States needs to leave behind in the Middle East.

"We all know that education is an international shared value," Spellings said.

In Afghanistan, there is much ground to be covered because education was denied to young girls for so many years, she said. This spring, Spellings visited Afghanistan and signed a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Afghan governments to promote education, teacher training and literacy, she said.

"We're very encouraged about the partnership and the work and the progress - the amazing progress -- that we've made in such a short period of time," she said. "It's very, very inspiring, and we owe a debt, of course, to our troops for making that all possible."

In Iraq, there is a great need for a basic education system, Spellings said, so experts have been sent to ensure a quality system is set up.

"The need is great, but the effort is great too," she said. "I'm confident that education is really, as it is in our own country, such a key part of a civic democracy, of a strong economy, and of an engaged and integrated citizenry."

As U.S. servicemembers continue to fight in the Middle East to provide a new way of life for the people there, people here are working to make sure their families are taken care of and their children are educated properly, Spellings said.

"Our responsibility here for those that are at home is to see about their kids," she said, "to make sure that they're educated. I know that's the best thing we can do for those that are deployed."

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Margaret Spellings

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