U.S. international basic education programs provide opportunities for children by focusing on increasing equitable access to quality education, advancing learning outcomes, improving early grade reading, and providing young people with relevant skills for future employment.
Photo By: Debashis Mukherjee
Why the United States Invests in International Basic Education
Education is critical to poverty alleviation, social stability, and participatory democracy. USAID’s programs provide students with safe and equitable access to quality education so that children develop the necessary skills to be part of the global work force. From 2011-2017, USAID reached over 109 million learners in more than 50 countries, including 22.6 million children living in conflict or crisis settings.
We’ve made great progress toward the goal of having all children in school and learning. Since 2000, the total number of out-of school children and youth has dropped by over 111 million and global primary school enrollment has grown to 91%.
However, we have more work to do. 262 million children and youth are still not in school and millions more are failing to acquire basic reading, writing, and numeracy skills. Nearly 50 million children have been displaced from their homes and refugee children and adolescents are five times more likely to be out of school than their non-refugee peers.
Education equips children and young people with the skills needed to participate in the 21st century work force. Studies have shown that each additional year of education can lead to a 10% increase in income and if all children left school with basic reading skills there would be a 12% reduction in world poverty. Higher levels of education are also related to lower maternal and child mortality rates and girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to marry as children.
Photo By: Abhijit Dey
Examples of Current U.S. Basic Education Programs
USAID’s Basic Education Programs
USAID partners with other U.S. government agencies, donors, country governments, multilateral agencies, civil society, and the private sector to ensure equitable access to inclusive, quality education for all – especially the most marginalized and vulnerable.
McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program
The McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program supports education, child development, and food security in low-income, food-deficit countries around the globe by providing U.S. agricultural commodities, as well as financial and technical assistance, to support school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects.
Key Legislation or Government Policies
Keeping Girls in School Act
The Keeping Girls in School Act (KGISA) will prioritize education for adolescent girls and instruct USAID to address the specific barriers that adolescent girls face in continuing their secondary education. KGISA also codifies the Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls into law and requires successive five-year renewals of the strategy.
Protecting Girls’ Access to Education Act
The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education Act promotes girls’ education in conflict settings. The act encourages DoS and USAID to increase access to educational, economic, and entrepreneurial opportunities for displaced children, especially girls.
The U.S. Government Strategy on International Basic Education (2019-2023)
The Strategy presents an opportunity to advance global diplomatic and development leadership on pressing international education challenges, as called for in the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act. The goal of the Strategy is to achieve a world where education systems in partner countries enable all individuals to acquire the education and skills needed to be productive members of society.99
USAID Education Policy
In November 2018, USAID released a new education policy that prioritizes locally responsive and country driven education program design in order to reach vulnerable and marginalized populations with education interventions.