|The American Presidency Project|
|• John F. Kennedy|
|Statement of Senator Kennedy on "Education for African Freedom," Washington, DC|
|September 21, 1960|
Senator John F. Kennedy, chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, describing the gathering of free Africa's leaders for the U.N. meeting in New York as the most important such meeting ever held in this country, today proposed that it be made the occasion for the launching of an American program of "Education for African Freedom."
Recalling his June 1960 proposal for an African Educational Development Fund, and similar proposals in June and October 1959, Senator Kennedy declared that events in the Congo demonstrate that the problem has become even more urgent in these intervening months. "The timetable for change in Africa," he pointed out, will not wait on the outcome of the American election."
"In consultation with the African leaders," the Democratic presidential candidate said, "we must undertake now a comprehensive program mobilizing all our resources for a full attack on Africa's desperate need for education at all levels. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, I therefore propose that, regardless of which administration assumes power in January, the United States pledge itself to carry through such an undertaking with the free nations of Africa."
"If Africa's need is to be met without further loss of valuable time," the Senator continued, "the State Department must be instructed to inform the African leaders now assembling in New York of this undertaking and invite them to join in presenting to us a statement of their most pressing needs and overall requirements."
Senator Kennedy stressed that such a program of "Education for African Freedom" can only be undertaken in partnership with the African nations and that consultation among the African leaders is an essential prerequisite. "Equally important," he declared, "there must be full cooperation with the United Nations in mobilizing the resources of all countries who are ready to assist."
"For my part," said Senator Kennedy, "I pledge that if elected I will make available the full resources of my administration to meet what I regard as this most basic requirement for stability and progress in the new nations of Africa. Specifically, I would propose to convene in Washington in January 1961 a working conference of American officials and leaders of private groups working in international education to consider a program of African educational requirements in light of the proposals to be made by the African nations."
Senator Kennedy emphasized that he visualized not merely an expansion of present educational exchange programs, but a utilization of the entire arsenal of education resources, pointing out that the greatest unmet need in Africa is for the creation of an adequate educational system within these countries, at all levels, particularly the training of primary and secondary school teachers.
The Senator pointed out that American missionary groups and private foundations have long made remarkable contributions to African education. He declared, however, that U.S. Government efforts have been far from adequate and that only a full mobilization of all American resources, governmental as well as private, can hope to provide resources adequate to the immensity of the African challenge.
The Senator listed these points as indicative of the urgency of the situation:
1. Although the crisis of African education which is now upon us has been clearly visible for many years, U.S. Government programs for educational exchange have not responded to the need. According to the best available data there were studying in the United States during the past academic year less than 1,500 African students (excluding the U.A.R.), and of these only 200 were receiving U.S. Government aid.Amplifying his proposal for "Education for African Freedom," Senator Kennedy pointed out that his call for an African conference on educational needs and for an American program tailored to African specifications follows closely the tested and highly successful techniques employed in the Marshall plan and the Colombo plan.
"To be successful," said the Senator, "we must meet these conditions:
"1. This must be a partnership undertaking tailored to African needs and priorities, not a unilateral American plan based on the insistence that 'America knows best.'"There is no question of what needs doing or of where to begin," the Senator concluded. "Our job is simply to shake off inertia and get started. If the urgency of this need is accepted by both parties and if the administration will now take the first step, we can make a real beginning on Africa's most pressing problem, a problem that should have long since been tackled with this degree of urgency."
|Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Statement of Senator Kennedy on "Education for African Freedom," Washington, DC", September 21, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=74143.|
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