I’m very happy to be here today with so many distinguished officials and concerned citizens of the Dominican Republic. I want especially to thank the Minister of Education for his dedication and those very warm remarks. I want to thank Monsignor, president of Pontificia Catholic University, and for your commitment to good teaching and learning for young people. And I want to thank the staff, the sisters and teachers, who are here every day with these beautiful children. But mostly, I am happy to be here with the boys and girls of Rosa Duarte School. (Applause.)
I appreciate what Minister Paredes said about President Obama’s commitment to education. It is one that we feel very strongly in the United States. We have worked hard to improve our schools, but we still have a lot of work to do. When I come to a school like this where I see the dedication of the teachers, the commitment to new learning and teaching strategies, and the children who are able to take advantage of this opportunity, I know how much we have in common between our two countries.
We want for every boy and girl a safe, stimulating place to learn where each child can be given the opportunity to live up to his or her God-given potential. That is the message that I receive from all of you about your mission at this school.
I just came from a classroom where a second-grader named Carly read a story that she had written. It’s called “The Sad Leaf.” And it’s a story about how children come together to save trees and nature. I know that it wasn’t easy for little Carly to stand up in front of all of us and read. But her story spoke volumes about what education in your country is attempting to accomplish. It is about improving skills, language and mathematic skills, but also giving children the right to express themselves, and I thank you for that.
The United States is proud to be your partner. We are committed to helping you and other countries work together to achieve a region in which all of our children are learning, more and more prosperity and progress is possible, and we know that education is a key to what we hope to achieve. I heard from the sister, I heard from the minister, I heard from the teachers, and the teacher trainers how important our USAID program and assistance has been.
So I am pleased to announce that the United States will give an additional $12.5 million over the next five years to expand the reading education program. (Applause.) We hope that this will enable you to expand the program to another 200 schools across the Dominican Republic, and also begin to provide more schools the math education and school government training as well.
We will reach 450 schools with this work, and I appreciate the very close partnership that USAID and the State Department and the United States Government has with the Ministry of Education. We want to help you improve the quality of teaching and enrich the classroom experience for your students. And we believe based on what we have seen so far that the program here in the Dominican Republic will be a model for the entire region. (Applause.)
I also appreciate what the minister said about President Fernandez. I have been coming to the Dominican Republic for more than 10 years. I’ve had many wonderful times with my husband and my family here in your beautiful country. And I have had numerous discussions with President Fernandez about the importance of education. And therefore, when we go to the summit tomorrow – it actually starts later today, the Summit of the Americas – President Obama will be talking about how the United States sees education as one of the cornerstones of our partnership with countries throughout our hemisphere. We believe investment in education will pay off for individuals, for their families, for their community, and for their nation.
So thank you for letting me come to see for myself the work that you are doing here. And let me especially express appreciation to the teachers. Without a dedicated, well-trained teacher, we do not get the results we need. The teachers here are so committed. The teacher trainers, the Ministry of Education; this is what the formula for success looks like.
So thank you all very much and continue the good work, and the United States will be your partner. Thank you. (Applause.)