This is historical material “frozen in time”. The website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work.

Search form

The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Remarks by The First Lady at Let Girls Learn Roundtable (All Participants)

The Mulberry School
London, United Kingdom 

10:41 A.M. GMT

MS. TCHEN:  I want to welcome everybody.  My name is Tina Tchen.  I am the Chief of Staff to the First Lady and the Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.  And we are delighted you all could join us to talk about the importance of educating adolescent girls around the world.

Before I turn this over to the First Lady for some opening comments, I wanted to highlight the announcements that are being made today by the United States and the United Kingdom on this issue.  

As you know, in March, the President and the First Lady launched Let Girls Learn, which is a U.S. whole-of-government effort to address the barriers that keep more than 62 million girls around the world out of school, especially adolescent girls.  We are here in the UK because, since the launch of Let Girls Learn, we have called upon world leaders to collaborate with the United States and to continue to renew their efforts to advance adolescent girls’ education, such as we did in March when we visited Japan.  

The UK has been a leader.  The UK’s flagship Girls’ Education Challenge is one of the world’s largest global funds dedicated to girls’ education.  And all United Kingdom international development education programs place a focus on girls and young women with a goal of keeping girls in school, supporting their ability to learn, and ensuring the critical transition from primary to secondary school, where the benefits are the greatest.  

Today, in a continuation of our mutual dedication to advancing the cause of women and girls, we’re announcing that the United States and United Kingdom will launch a nearly $200 million partnership to continue our collective support for girls’ education, part of which will be directed to countries affected by conflict and crisis.  As part of this commitment, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and our U.S. Agency for International Development are announcing a new partnership in the Democratic Republic of Congo that will total up to $180 million over five years.  

This latest project will focus on DRC, where 28 percent of the adolescent girls are out of school.  It’s a country that has a real chance of success to further girls’ education, and this effort will benefit more than 755,000 girls ages 10 to 18 over the next five years.

In addition, DFID is committing another approximately 10 million pounds to undertake a new study focused on adolescent girls’ education and best practices.  Further, two leading universities in the United States and the United Kingdom are committing to further develop the evidence supporting best practices for girls’ education.  The University of Cambridge’s REAL Center, which is the Research for Equitable Access and Learning, and Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security, together with USAID, DFID and CamFed, the campaign for female education, will together explore and assess the development of joint initiatives to develop research on quality education and skills development.

And finally, we’re really pleased that our United States Peace Corps volunteers and CamFed, the campaign for female education, and CAMA, CamFed’s alumnae association, are together launching a collaboration to link CAMA’S thousands of volunteers and alumnae around the globe with our volunteers to help support community-based work.  

So this is really a global issue that all of us can work together to address.  And that is now my honor and my pleasure to introduce the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

MRS. OBAMA:   Thank you so much, Tina. That's a mouthful, but it's all good stuff. (Laughter.)  And that's one of the reason why I'm so excited to be here. 

The Mulberry School. This school is an amazing, shining example of what we can do around this issue. All it takes is to walk into that courtyard like I just did a few minutes ago and hear the voices of those young women just standing strong and smart and confident.

And I meet girls like this everywhere I go around the world.  And that's who we're fighting for. That's what this initiative is all about. Because there are 62 million young women like all of the girls here and around the country who aren't getting an education, and their potential is just being lost. 

And we can't afford that. We can't afford that in any of our countries. We can't afford that on the world stage. 

So it's really going to take all of us partnering together, which is why this partnership with the United States and the UK is so exciting. Because the UK has been a leader on educating adolescent girls for quite some time, and it is my hope that the U.S. will soon continue to invest and catch up to the levels that you all are doing here in the UK. And the will is there for certain. 

My job here today is really to listen.  I'm still learning in this space, so I want to find out how I can use my position, wherever it may be, to continue to lift up those voices and to be effective at it, and to make sure that we're basing what we do on good research and good outcomes-based approaches; that we're talking to the community, that we're partnering with organizations on the ground who know these communities and understands what it takes to overcome the barriers that these girls are facing. 

So our goal is to be value-added every step of the way. And if stepping in and shining a light and giving some hugs will help, I'm there. But we want to do even more. 

So this resource commitment and the international travel that I'm going to do as First Lady until the end of this term is going to highlight this work. We're going to try to use our leverage to pull in more partners, to get more resources, to get the U.S. to commit even more to this initiative. 

So I'm excited. And I'm really honored to have you all here working together on this issue. 

SECRETARY MORGAN:  Well, Tina, thank you very much.  And, Mrs. Obama, thank you for the invitation.  It’s a pleasure to be here this morning.  And thank you for visiting the Mulberry School for Girls, another excellent girls school here in London.  I know they’re delighted to host you, and we’re very proud of them in the Department for Education.

And I’m going to say a little bit about domestically what we have done, but I would also say that I think our schools up and down the country are very interested in international development work and in projects to support education overseas.  And in fact, I’m going to a school of my own constituency to support a project about Send My Sister to School.  So I think they’re very interested in educating girls overseas.

I’m very passionate about raising the aspirations of girls.   And I think this is important for two reasons -- and this is what they do here at the Mulberry School for Girls.

Firstly, obviously, we want to make sure that everyone is making the best of their talents.  And we have a very clear vision in our education system of everyone being able to fulfill their potential regardless of birth or background.  And that means everyone having the opportunity to study subjects which are going to get them to a good university and a good job.  And that’s important, both, obviously, for the economy, but also for things like attacking the gender pay gap, where we know that actually girls are not getting high enough in careers.  That then goes on to affect their earnings, as do the subjects that they choose.

And so here domestically, we’ve launched projects like the Your Life campaign, so that girls will study more STEM subjects like science, technology, engineering and maths, but also campaigns like Your Daughter’s Future, which is to help parents to work with their daughters and to talk to them about aspirations and careers.  And I just know that a lot of the time, a parent, you can advise your children on what you know in terms of career options, but actually you also want other people.  And that’s where, again, the schools play a really important part in terms of raising aspirations.

So before Christmas, we announced a careers and enterprise company which is going to go into schools, again, and broaden the aspirations of girls.  And I think what we’re seeing here is what we want to see overseas as well, because I’m sure, as Justine is going to say, by changing how girls are doing in their countries, that also helps to improve the lives of everybody in their countries.

So that’s what we’re doing domestically, and we think it’s incredibly important.  And, as Tina said, I’m both Secretary of Education and Minister of Women, so I’m able to bring those two things together.  

But thank you for your time.

MS. TCHEN:  Great.  Thank you, Nicky.  And let’s turn next to the Right Honorable Justine Greening -- she is Secretary of State for International Development -- to talk about our U.S. and UK efforts in this space.

SECRETARY GREENING:  Thanks, Tina.  I mean, first of all, we’re delighted to be able to work together with the U.S. on this initiative.  I really put improving the prospects for girls and women right at the heart of what international development is all about from a UK perspective. 

I don’t believe that any country can successfully develop if half the population is locked out of that.  And in practice, that means education for girls is one of the key planks of what we’re doing.  

So we put in place this Girls’ Education Challenge, which is one of our flagship programs.  It’s getting a million girls through school in some of the toughest places in the world, where we know they’re most at risk of not being in school.  And the research program that we’re launching today is about not only getting girls through that program successfully, but then tracking them afterwards so we can really start to understand the more long-term impact that investing in education can have on girls.

I think the second point I really wanted to make was we know that sometimes children are not in education because of where they are.  Sometimes they’re not in education because of who they are, because they’re girls.  On the “where they are” piece of this, we know that conflict states in particular mean that children, and especially girls, end up out of school.

So one of the things that we have also put in place is this No Lost Generation initiative to help Syrian refugee children be able to get into school even though they may be in refugee camps or in host communities in countries like Lebanon and Jordan.  My sense is that I think there’s now a real momentum on development and investing in girls’ education in particular, but I think we really need to look at how we can do a better job of making sure that girls especially in conflict areas who are refugees don’t lost out.

And that’s why I think the program in DRC is so special, because it pulls together all of these things.  So it pulls together us doing education with girls in a really difficult country that’s had all sorts of challenges, but also, on top of that, it’s going to say to girls and boys who have missed out, actually, it doesn’t have to finish -- 

MRS. OBAMA:  Not too late, right.

SECRETARY GREENING:  It’s not too late.  And we can help make sure you have key skills even though you might have missed out on your primary school years.

So we’re going to be doing work that helps kids catch up.  And that’s not just good for them, as you said, Mrs. Obama, that’s good for their countries as well.  And I think that’s why it’s also important -- so we’re really excited about this.  We know research is a key part of it.  

The UK, over the last five years, helped 11 million children get into school around the world, which we can be really proud of.  And I think the chance to do more and to collaborate with the States is a fantastic opportunity for us.  And we’re delighted to be working with you.

MRS. OBAMA:  Same here.  

MS. TCHEN:  Thank you, Justine.  And speaking of research, let me turn to Dr. Pauline Rose, our researcher here.  She is the Director of the Research for Equitable Access and Learning Center at Cambridge University. 

DOCTOR ROSE:  Thank you very much.  And thank you for inviting me to this really exciting day and event.  I think it’s really important to put girls’ education at the heart of development.  

As you mentioned, we have the Research for Equitable Access and Learning Center, which is being launched today.  So I think we’ve got a great coalition of things going on that are really putting girls’ education at the heart.  The launch is in association with Camfed, a great partner of work linking research together with action on the ground.  And I think for us, that’s really important.

At the heart of the REAL Center is building a strong evidence base, really rigorous evidence base that can influence policy and also engage change on the ground.  And it focuses in particular on countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

We’ve seen that there’s been a lot of progress in primary schools -- lots more girls getting into school.  The quality of those schools is still not necessarily desirable, but many girls don’t make the transition to secondary school.  But as the Let Girls Learn initiative highlights, we need to pay more attention to that level.  As, Tina, you were saying at the beginning, this is where we can really see transformation, both for individuals as well as for societies.  So it’s important for girls’ own dignity, but it’s also important for societies. 

From research that we’ve done, we identify that if all women in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia had reached secondary school, we would have actually made sure that child marriages and early births would have dropped by two-thirds -- I mean, a huge difference.  Similarly, if all women in poor countries had a secondary education, child deaths would have cut in half by almost three million.  There are real sort of changes to people’s lives that we can see as a result of their education.

So our research shows that it’s -- some of the pathways through this -- how this happens.  It’s through the literacy that can empower young women to assert their rights -- even in more conservative societies like Pakistan, it really makes a difference to how, within the household, they can negotiate their space.

Now, recently and in the coming months, world leaders are getting together to discuss the next round of the Millennium Development Goals, or Sustainable Development Goals as they’re likely to be called.  And they’re likely to be making a commitment to say every child should achieve secondary education by 2030.  But we’re a long, long way off from achieving that, as we know.  And it’s those with multiple -- facing multiple disadvantages who are those that -- least likely to make it.  

So again, in our research, we identified that those girls from poor, rural families are only spending three years in school on average.  So this is a huge gap between three years in school and up to nine years that needed for lower secondary education.  So we need to really have a -- change; we can’t see that -- incremental change.

What we also find in the research is that the problems start in the early years.  So in order to address the problems for adolescent girls, we need to actually start at the beginning.  We find that many girls are just not even achieving the foundation skills, and they, therefore, aren’t going to be achieving the skills they need for furthering their learning, or, indeed, for finding productive work.  And, as we know, as girls get older, the problems they face get more complex, both within the school environment and outside.  

Some of our research focuses in particular on the most marginalized, who are the girls with disabilities.  We know far too little about both the problems they face and what can be done to address those problems.  They’re invisible in much policy and planning.  And I know DFID have been leading the way on trying to put that at the center of development, and I think that’s really crucial.

So from our perspective, to solve these problems, we need a robust evidence base.  We need to understand what the problems are, and also show why education matters so that we really can continue this dialogue about putting girls’ education at the heart.  

And teachers need to be at the heart of these reforms.  Without teachers, we’re not going to see a change.  Now, we can see in the Mulberry School here the commitment of the teachers alongside the students, and the partnerships that they have together.  But in too many countries, teacher themselves don’t have the basic skills that are needed to actually teach the children, so we’re doing research to try and identify how we can also make a change there.

But importantly, researchers on our own, we can’t make the difference.  We have to work in partnership, and this is why this type of event is so important.  We’re working in partnership already with countries -- governments in the countries in which we work.  We work in partnership with DFID.  And we’re going to also build further links with USAID, with whom I have also worked with on issues in relation to conflict in particular in the past.  
And at the launch of the REAL Center this afternoon, we’re going to be announcing a partnership with Camfed.  Now, Camfed I think is the NGO that has been working really, inevitably, on the ground to see changes in girls’ lives, and I think we’ve got a lot to learn from their experience.  And that’s why this partnership for us is going to be so important.  So we’re really looking forward to further building that.

And finally, I think that this -- we really need to make sure that these pledges that we’re making today we do take forward to see a step change for girls’ education.  Thank you.

MS. TCHEN:  Thank you, Pauline.  Well, you mentioned the Camfed partnership and the importance of on-the-ground work, so I want to turn next to Fiona Mavhinga, who is the co-founder of CAMA, which is Camfed’s alumnae association.  Talk about your personal story and the power of community-based change.

MS. MAVHINGA:  Well, thank you very much, Tina.  Mrs. Obama, Secretary of State, colleagues -- it’s an honor for me to join you on this table.  

Twelve years ago, I was a newly qualified lawyer in -- working in a practice with one other woman among the 18 men.  Twelve years before that, I was a little girl growing up in rural Zimbabwe, waking up at 4:00 a.m. every morning with my grandmother to sell vegetables at the market so that we could raise money for our food, the books, stationery, and uniform that would keep me in school.  

My mother, barely educated herself, she traded dried fish for maize, which she sold to try and cover my school fees.  Many times we went without food, and so many times my hope for an education was almost lost.  

But in spite of the hardships we faced, I remained determined because of the sacrifices my family was making.  I remember once when I was 14 I told my grandmother that I was finding maths very difficult, and she said, you do not say that, you say you are going to excel.  (Laughter.)  And I did.  I got the best results from my school and in the province.

I then came to know Camfed, the Campaign for Female Education, through two girls who shared my background of poverty, and who were receiving -- from Camfed.  Camfed in turn supported me, and I went on to university to study law.  So I’m a lawyer now, and my family is very, very proud of me.  

But my story of a girl struggling to maintain her grip on education is, as you know, the story of millions of girls around the world.  So many of my friends in my rural village lost that grip due to poverty.  And their lives are so drastically different from mine today because of one thing:  an education.  

And you, Mrs. Obama, believe so passionately in the power of girls’ education.  And I’m here today not to convince everyone on this table of that power, because we all know it.  I’m here to talk about how we can achieve girls’ education.  

Together with 33,000 educated young women in our network, we are unleashing this power for new generations of girls.  Back in 1998, with the 400 first young women who were supported by Camfed through school, I founded the CAMA network.  We thought about how we could use our shared experience to support other vulnerable girls through school, and to help them to succeed when they graduate.  

And I remember how I felt in those first days -- completing school and finding CAMA.  We were all very unsure of what our futures are going to be, but being together gave us courage, gave us determination and a desire to encourage those around us.  CAMA, our network, works on the premise that the love and the support that is inherent in our communities is the greatest resource behind our successes and behind the success of other young people.  

We in CAMA, we support other vulnerable children, both boys and girls, who may be facing problems and who may not have a chance to go to school, and also, those who are at risk of dropping out of school.  We support them to be in school and to remain in school and to learn.  

Last year, using our own resources, CAMA members in our community supported 263,655 children to remain in school.  And you know, CAMA is working with governments at local level, at district level, national and international levels to break down the barriers to girls’ education.  

Today, my role at Camfed is to coordinate the development and expansion of the CAMA network, positioning young women who are the experts in what works to achieve girls’ education.  As you can see from the Camfed model, we do not educate a girl and launch her into the world -- she graduates into a community.  And our community is ever-growing, and it’s comprised of young people who are repeating the process again from the start for more girls, again and again.

So for us, CAMA is really a true embodiment of the ability of community-based solutions to unlock the power of girls’ education.  In three years, there will be 130,000 of us joining the network, ready to lead the charge.  

So I’m delighted that you are joining us, and you are ready to work with us.  I promise you this force, the education of girls, is something that made our lives brilliant.  It’s going to transform your lives.  It has transformed mine.

Thank you very much.

MS. TCHEN:  Oh, wonderful.  Beautifully said, Fiona.

MRS. OBAMA:  Congratulations.

MS. TCHEN:  And finally, as you mentioned the power of community change -- and one of the very exciting pieces of Let Girls Learn has been our partnership with the Peace Corps, doing that community-based change around the globe through our Peace Corps volunteers.  And Bina Contreras is a return Peace Corps volunteer who did a project on empowering girls.  And you can talk us about that and about Let Girls Learn and the Peace Corps.

MS. CONTRERAS:  Great.  Thank you so much for having me here to tell my story.  It’s an honor and privilege to join you all here today. 

I grew up as an inner-city kid in San Francisco, raised by a single mother of three.  Despite the challenges that my family faced, I pushed myself to achieve personal goals.  I worked hard in school because I knew that, for me, education was the key to my success.

While I was studying at the University of California at Berkeley, I discovered my passion for breakdancing.  (Laughter.)  I became involved with the all-female hip-hop collective called Sisters of the Underground, where we performed, but also we mentored young girls at after-school programs, girls at juvenile hall, girls who were from the inner city just like me.  

After college, I pursued a career in international education.  I met my husband Drew, who had served in the Peace Corps.  When he started thinking about serving again, I didn’t hesitate.  

Peace Corps volunteers serve for two years in developing countries, working closely with their communities to develop sustainable solutions at the grassroots level.  To me, Peace Corps seemed like the perfect avenue for blending my professional experiences with my desire to help others.  

That’s how Drew and I came to call Gulu Town in northern Uganda our home.  As a volunteer, my main project was working with vulnerable youth at a vocational training school, but to my -- at pure coincidence, there was actually a breakdance project in the town -- (laughter) -- 

MRS. OBAMA:  Who would have thought?  (Laughter.)  

MS. CONTRERAS:  Yes, exactly!  It was started by a Fulbright fellow, and it was coordinated by a development worker from the UK named Josh.  I started working with them right away.  Over time, I noticed how few girls participated in the program.  When I asked why, I was told that girls weren’t allowed to come.  They had to stay at home to cook and clean and serve their families.  Many girls in the community were simply treated as second- or even third-class citizens.  

But few girls did find a way to participate in the project.  So around that time, Josh had traveled back home to the UK to raise funds for the group.  When he returned, I pitched my idea for creating a girls’ empowerment workshop through breakdancing.  I knew what breakdancing had done for me, I saw what it had done for girls in San Francisco, and I knew what it could do for girls in Uganda.

With Josh’s support, I worked with members of the community to organize workshop sessions on HIV/AIDS, on self-esteem and on leadership.  Over 60 girls participated in the workshop, and by the end of the week, the girls had learned a variety of skills -- including the ability to perform a breakdance piece in front of an audience -- exhibiting their new level of confidence and strength.

My experience in Uganda showed me what is possible when you give girls a chance to step into the circle.  Let Girls Learn will give Peace Corps volunteers all over the world living and working on the ground the opportunity to start projects like this one, letting their technical skills with their passions to help their communities invest in sustainable solutions.  

Peace Corps volunteers put their heart and souls into the projects that they develop.  They are one with the community.  They eat the food.  They learn the language.  They are family.  This is why they are -- the best position to work hand in hand with their community to address the needs together.  

I want to thank the President and the First Lady, and all of you here today, for your leadership and participation and partnership.  It’s amazing to see how many people are talking about the power and potential of girls on such a global scale.  And if any of the girls back in Gulu Town are watching this today -- (laughter) -- I want to say --

MRS. OBAMA:  Bust a move for us.

MS. CONTRERAS:  Yes.  (Laughter.)  But also, the world has your back.  Thank you.  

MRS. OBAMA:  That’s right.

MS. TCHEN:  Oh, thank you Bina.  Well, that’s perfect.  Well, now we have a few minutes just to I think have a conversation around the issues that we’ve got on the table.  

Maybe just to start off, we’ve all talked about the power of communities and community-based changed.  And if anyone wants to share just -- what was a moment that you all experienced where you really -- I think, Bina, you just described one, where you really saw the power of community-based change for girls and how that can work.  I don’t know, Fiona, if you’ve got a particular moment to share about what that’s been like to see happening on the ground.

MS. MAVHINGA:  Thank you very much.  You know, the work that Camfed does is really anchored in community-based solutions.  It was a response to the community saying that our girls are not in school.  So at no point would we go into a community and say, these are your problems and these are your solutions.  We work from a premise that the community itself know what they have -- challenges they are facing, and what can be done.

So what we do is we ask what are the aspirations of the community, and what they think should be done to get there, and then what is it that they themselves can do for themselves that we can come in and support.  So that’s the way that -- the premise that we are working from.

MRS. OBAMA:  We call that on the -- asset-based community development, which is something that my husband and I, when -- he is a community organizer, and me working in communities on the South Side, that was always the approach -- that you approach communities from a place of strength, and that the real solutions are right there for us to uncover.

And that’s why this table represents the kind of unique partnerships that we have to have.  We’ve got to have government there, because they have the resources.  We need the research, because we need to know that what we do is actually working.  But we have to have a presence on the ground to understand how do you go into a community in the first place if we’re going to have success.

Fiona, I think you said -- like the notion that Camfed graduates girls into another community.  We’ve seen that in programs like Posse and other programs in the United States, where underserved kids are going to college -- they succeed better when they have a community of people that they’re going through the process with, kids who look like them, so that they’re not alone on these big campuses and universities.  And it seems as if the same thing is true on the international stage as well.  

So we can’t do this alone.  And I know that the U.S., we understand that.  We can’t solve this -- a problem and prove the challenges that girls face one country at a time.  We have got to be in partnerships, our universities working closely together, our community-based groups making those connections and learning best practices.

So this table, to me, represents where I hope we continue to go as a globe, as a planet, around girls’ education -- and constantly bringing in new partners to make that happen.

MS. TCHEN:  I know, Justine, that’s what you’ve been working on with the U.S. and UK, leveraging our work together.

SECRETARY GREENING:  Absolutely.  And I think -- I mean, I want to say, keeping here -- it’s men and boys.  And a lot of time, when we talk about what are the ways we could make sure that girls are at school, actually talking to the whole community about why that makes sense is absolutely critical.  And some of the most powerful advocates I’ve heard for girls’ education have been their brothers, their fathers.  You’ve been able to see that they needed to get into school.

So part of the community work I think is talking to community leaders, religious leaders, and for those key people who set expectations every day, changing their opinions and bringing them with us.  And this points about -- you can’t superimpose a strategy on a country or a community.  You have to work with them and through them, and you have to harness momentum that’s already there -- or if it’s not there, take the time to really get to know how to build it how to create it.  And you don’t do that overnight; sometimes it can take years of just being part of a community to have the trust.

MRS. OBAMA:  And that’s a key point -- the long-term investment.  And that’s -- I implore our foundations out there that do this work to know that this is generations in the making; that this can’t be a two-year, a five-year, even just a 10-year kind of notion, because to do that work it does take years and years of having people consistently on the ground investing and having that understanding.  And that doesn’t happen overnight.

SECRETARY MORGAN:  I think the other thing that was interesting -- I mean, Fiona’s story was about persistence, and persistence in education and her determination to succeed.  And so that was skills.  I mean, obviously, there’s education sort of knowledge, but there’s also the skills -- so using the breakdancing classes to talk to the girls about other issues -- whether it’s HIV, or whether it is about the skills that you need -- resilience to cope in life.  And that’s really important I think as well, which is the coping skills and saying to people “you can do this,” and having really positive role models.  

I don’t think anyone around this table should underestimate -- or people going back into communities actually seeing strong women who have also been educated, taken exams, gone to be professionals actually come back and saying, “I can do it.”  And that’s what we see at the school as well.  I was talking to some of the students about coming back and talking to the younger students about their experiences -- is inspirational.

MS. TCHEN:  One of the things you mentioned, Nicky, that we’re also trying to do with Let Girls Learn is speak to our U.S. audience.  Part of Let Girls Learn is -- and the Peace Corps has been helping us out -- is to message to kids in the U.S., get interested in girls around the world, and here’s why you should -- support them.  It sounds like that’s something you’re doing here in the UK too.

SECRETARY MORGAN:  Yes, very much.  And I think schools -- I mean, we work with schools up and down the country, and the -- Justine’s department.  And I think also just -- it’s about broadening horizons, and I think it’s about reminding students that there’s a big, wide world out there, and that not everybody is as fortunate as we are in our countries, and that actually things that we take for granted like good, free education -- actually, there are students around the world who don’t have that.

And you’re right, they are very interested.  They do a lot of projects.  And I’m sure that’s something that -- I’m sure there’s -- 

MS. TCHEN:  Well, we have our Let Girls Learn fund that we’re going to ask folks to support.  And we’ve got middle-schoolers doing -- selling popsicles already doing it.  (Laughter.)  

SECRETARY GREENING:  So we’ve probably got a couple of main programs that we do.  One is kind of helping teachers understand how to weave international development into the curriculum.  The second, which I really love, is connecting classrooms.  So it literally just links up schools.  And we’ve hooked up some schools with schools in Jordan, and it’s amazing for them to be able to Skype their counterparts on a completely different side of the world and just get a sense of, well, for example, how malaria affects the kids.  

And I think that, at an early level, broadening children’s horizons is key.

MRS. OBAMA:  And we now have the technology to do it.  And that’s where we need the assistance from our -- in the U.S. our Silicon Valley folks, and our tech folks.  We have so many wonderful social media tools that can be used just for this.  As I tell my kids, instead of tweeting about what you had for lunch, why don’t you tweet about what you’re doing in class and share that with another girl around the world.  That medium can be powerful in terms of moving the needle on this issue, but we need to know how to harness it in a way that adds value.  But the tools are out there.

10:21 A.M. GMT