Andrea Mitchell   |  September 24, 2013

Pushing for education reform

With world leaders gathered at the U.N. this week, advocates for educators are pushing for real change. The Global Business Coalition for Education is an organization focused on promoting education for children across the globe, particularly in the developing world and among Syrian refugees. Sara Brown, the chair of the coalition, joins Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss.

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>>> with the world leaders who were gathered at the u.n. this week, advocates for education are here pushing for real change . the global business coalition for education is an organization promoting education for children across the globe, particularly the developing world . sarah brown is the chair of the coalition and co-founder of a world at school and joins me now. sarah, great to see you again.

>> great to see you.

>> you've got the whole world stage here in new york. it is sort of a coming together, as it has been for several years, the clinton global initiative and the u.n. general assembly . you have brought business leaders together to focus on education and on girls and women in particular.

>> well, the business piece is important because i think we recognize that with governments and nonprofits alone that we won't solve some of these great big issues of our time through poverty, nutrition, water sanitation issues and education. education is coming to the foreas well. there's a huge focus on girls and recognizing what they need to do and their rights. we saw that with molalla and the many other people standing with her so education is a big talking topic and education is really to play its part in that.

>> you and your husband have gotten to know mallala. how is she doing? she strikes me not knowing her but watching her at these events, she's extraordinary, someone of any age. she still has this amazing dynam dynamism and intellectual fire power .

>> she came from pakistan where education is very much still at risk and she is determined to carry on and strengthened by the attack on her to take that message forward, supported by her family and friends. so she's here at the u.n. this week. we've been overlapping at various meetings. she's joined the youth group that are calling for intervention in syria in the humanitarian crisis there to deliver education for the many refugee children who have lost their homes and lost their schooling.

>> we've seen the reports from ann curry and richard engel on this network from these refugee camps on both sides. also the people who were displaced internally in syria . how can you in the middle of conflict zones and with the appalling conditions in some of these refugee camps , no matter how hard the jordanians in particular have tried to change the climate, the atmosphere there, how can you deliver education to children?

>> i think the real question is how can you not deliver education to those children. they have left their homes, left their schools, seen things no child should see, and find themselves in very adverse circumstances. the neighboring countries have been very welcoming. lebanon will have about 400,000 children over the next few months and numbers rising all the time. lebanon 's delayed opening its schools for a week while it tries to work out how to enroll children. there was a plan there, there was a group meeting yesterday that i was able to join with the business coalition and the youth advocates from the world at school where we sat round the table with government leaders, sat round the table with the big ngos, unicef and the global partnership for education, lirching to them talk about how they would convene together to deliver schooling for children as part of the humanitarian response . it needs to go in alongside food and health care and shelter for those children.

>> what do americans need to know ? because this country has been turning inward, not only because of the economic problems but because of the political pressures from the right.

>> americans need to know that, you know, children are everywhere, are children. and the normalcy that's needed for their lives, to be able to sit in a school room and enjoy a school meal and, you know, have something return to normal is important, and that it's the world community coming together of the the united states was represented at that table yesterday. if you think about it, maybe ten countries, each contributing under $20 million apiece would deliver schooling for all of those children with the plan that already exists.

>> how have the business leaders responded? what kind of responsiveness have you seen in the business community ?

>> businesses have responded very well. i'll give you one example. western union , who are familiar to so many people, have over half a million branches all around the world and they have opened that up for anyone to go in and make a small donation without any transaction costs, any fees attached to it, that will go directly to supporting syrian refugee children being able to get schooling in lebanon , in jordan, and in syria itself. so there's a way that everyone can pay a small part for it and the private sector making that possible. but that only works if it goes alongside what other governments can do and step up to the plate to help.

>> sarah brown , and we should at least give a shoutout to your original cause, the white ribbon alliance for maternal health .

>> i just joined their breakfast this morning. the work in the national countries is moving hard and fast to save women's lives.

>> thank you so very much.