U.S. Cuts Off Support to UNESCO, the UN's Education Agency

A series of unfortunate events has led to a decision by the U.S. government to cut off funding to UNESCO -- the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Among its many efforts, UNESCO has been a driving force behind global efforts that have helped put millions more children into school during the last two decades. As our 21st century world becomes increasingly interconnected and interdependent, the need for multilateral solutions to global challenges like poverty and illiteracy has grown by leaps and bounds.

The work of UNESCO is vital to promoting global stability and democratic values that are in America's core interests, says Director-General Irina Bokova. The international agency is responsible for a wide range of global humanitarian programs -- programs that save lives, from a tsunami early-warning system for the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean to much-needed literacy training programs for the Afghan national police force and Afghan women. The reduced UNESCO budget comes at a time when the international community is trying to scale up efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Although there is an undeniable need to make development aid smarter, many are left wondering who really ends up paying when U.S. cuts support to programs that help educate children, improve global welfare and serve American interests abroad.

The Daily Show recently propelled the UNESCO issue into national primetime when it featured a scathing "special report" by correspondent John Oliver. You can watch the full segments below.

Already this year we have witnessed the power of social media to advance national conversations and action around global challenges in an unprecedented way. It will be interesting to see whether concerned digital citizens will make this the latest issue to be heard in the halls of Washington.