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First Lady Laura Bush Highlights Africa's Education Needs

First lady Laura Bush on Tuesday honored three Kenyan students who are the first women from their home communities to go to college.

Introducing a new video about President Bush's Africa education program, the first lady highlighted the program's goals of promoting education for girls, providing textbooks and training teachers.

The Maasai students recognized by the Bush — Eunice Kaelo, Evelyn Nkadori and Agnes Kisai — are success stories of the initiative's effort to educate girls. According to United States Agency for International Development, girls account for about 60 percent of the 42 million African children not enrolled in school.

"They understand that their education begins a new chapter in their lives, but also in the lives of their people," Mrs. Bush said.

All three young women graduated from high school and traveled to the United States to study at Chicago State University.

Launched in 2002, the $600 million Africa Education Initiative has awarded more than 250,000 scholarships, trained more than 600,000 teachers and provided almost 4 million textbooks and other materials. The program aims to give 550,000 scholarships and train more than 900,000 teachers by 2010, Mrs. Bush said.

The shortened version of the 30-minute video shown Tuesday at the Academy for Educational Development highlighted the program's efforts in Senegal, Kenya and Zambia. The video was presented in honor of the U.N.'s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Education for All week.

In a visit to Ghana last January, the first lady announced a component of the initiative that would provide 15 million textbooks to sub-Saharan Africa.