Melinda Gates: This is in Africa, our very first trip, the first time either of us had ever been to Africa, in the fall of 1993. We were already engaged to be married. We married a few months later, and this was the trip where we really went to see the animals and to see the savanna. It was incredible. Bill had never taken that much time off from work. But what really touched us, actually, were the people, and the extreme poverty. We started asking ourselves questions. Does it have to be like this?
Bill Gates: Well, we decided that we'd pick two causes, whatever the biggest inequity was globally, and there we looked at children dying, children not having enough nutrition to ever develop, and countries that were really stuck, because with that level of death, and parents would have so many kids that they'd get huge population growth, and that the kids were so sick that they really couldn't be educated and lift themselves up. So that was our global thing, and then in the U.S., both of us have had amazing educations, and we saw that as the way that the U.S. could live up to its promise of equal opportunity is by having a phenomenal education system, and the more we learned, the more we realized we're not really fulfilling that promise.
So this is a story largely of vaccines. Smallpox was killing a couple million kids a year. That was eradicated, so that got down to zero. Measles was killing a couple million a year. That's down to a few hundred thousand. Anyway, this is a chart where you want to get that number to continue, and it's going to be possible, using the science of new vaccines, getting the vaccines out to kids. We can actually accelerate the progress.
Because we built this thing together from the beginning, it's this great partnership. I had that with Paul Allen in the early days of Microsoft. I had it with Steve Ballmer as Microsoft got bigger, and now Melinda, and in even stronger, equal ways, is the partner, so we talk a lot about which things should we give more to, which groups are working well? She's got a lot of insight. She'll sit down with the employees a lot. We'll take the different trips she described. So there's a lot of collaboration. I can't think of anything where one of us had a super strong opinion about one thing or another?
Well, I would say a huge lesson for us out of the early work is we thought that these small schools were the answer, and small schools definitely help. They bring down the dropout rate. They have less violence and crime in those schools. But the thing that we learned from that work, and what turned out to be the fundamental key, is a great teacher in front of the classroom. If you don't have an effective teacher in the front of the classroom, I don't care how big or small the building is, you're not going to change the trajectory of whether that student will be ready for college.