While the United States and Kansas debate how to improve educational outcomes and how to best finance a network of schools and teachers across the country, other parts of the world are struggling to secure meager funds to provide the most basic level of education for their children.

Last week, Patrick Makokoro, founder and executive director of the Nhaka Foundation in Z, visited The News with Colin Smith of the Results organization in Washington, D.C., and Ellsworth native and K-State student and Results member Noah Trapp.

Their goal is to help secure $3.1 billion in international aid for the Global Partnership for Education that can help leverage local resources to help establish schools in some of the world’s most impoverished areas, such as Zimbabwe, Makokoro’s home country. The money will help train teachers, build schools, and buy textbooks in 89 countries that are home to 870 million children.

During the visit, Makokoro outlined the value of education in a country like Zimbabwe. Kids who go to school have something to fill their days, so they’re less likely to end up in a life of theft, substance abuse and prostitution. Moreover, the education they receive makes them less vulnerable to extremists, who prey on the ignorant and the desperate to fill their ranks.

It might be easy, in the comfort of our infrastructure and compulsory education system in the United States, to question why it’s necessary to make an investment in the education and future of other countries.

But at some level, however, we all know that a better-educated world is a better world. Children who lack education grow into adults who have limited opportunities and limited capacity to provide for themselves, participate in the economy, or educate their own children later on. They’re also more likely to turn to the sort of extremist religion that breeds terrorism – but education that develops thought and opportunity is the primary weapon against extremist recruitment around the world.

The fund will soon be up for replenishment, and the environment in the United States is one pointed toward reduction in spending. Yet, America’s role in the Global Partnership for Education shouldn’t be viewed as an expense or a drain to taxpayers; it should be seen as an investment today that creates a better world for years to come.

The United States can and should hold up its role in the world to promote education and help poorer countries develop better opportunities for their citizens. Such investment creates more and better markets for U.S. products and services, serves as a protection against the growth of tourism, and helps make this now-connected world a better place for us all.

— The Hutchinson News