Basic Education

FY2018 Funding Recommendation:  
$925 million


Funding History


       House/Senate FY2017 Request   

       InterAction's FY2018 Recommendation

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 Key Facts

USAID Basic Education: $800 million

U.S. support for basic education programs builds a foundation for democracy, political stability, and economic growth, while also promoting understanding, tolerance, and hope. Education is a cost-effective way to equip millions with the tools they need to forge a path to self-sufficiency and better lives.

Unfortunately, students and teachers are increasingly under attack by extremists who feel threatened by the power of education. Attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Taliban in Pakistan provide shocking examples. Schools continue to be among the predictable casualties of war. In the past 10 years, armed forces and groups in at least 26 countries have used schools for military purposes.

The U.S. would do well to join with young people like Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who defied the Taliban and risked her life demanding the right to an education.

Through its successful USAID Education Strategy, the U.S. is actively working to help ensure children like Malala have access to a better life. Fully funding these programs is essential to maintaining progress and their ensuring success. At least $800 million (with at least $600 million provided as Development Assistance) allocated for bilateral education programs would allow USAID to fulfill these obligations.

From 2011–2015, U.S. government basic education programs reached more than 41 million children and youth in over 45 countries, trained over 400,000 teachers and 46,000 officials annually, provided over 140 million textbooks, and built over 10,000 classrooms. However, many countries are still struggling to develop education systems that provide quality education. Currently, 250 million children around the world are not learning basic skills. Seventy-five million children are out of school due to crisis and conflict, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation as under-age laborers, child soldiers, and sex workers. Since 2010, global progress in reaching these children has virtually stagnated and donor aid has declined, resulting in an annual education funding shortage of $39 billion. 

Global Partnership for Education: $125 million

InterAction also recommends an additional $125 million for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the only multilateral partnership focused on ensuring all children have access to a quality education. Since 2002, GPE has allocated $4.4 billion to 61 developing country partners. This has helped 61 million more of the world's neediest children enroll in primary school and 23 million more children enroll in lower secondary school. At the same time, GPE partner countries have increased the percentage of children completing primary school to nearly three-quarters. In June 2014, GPE’s developing country partners pledged $26 billion in domestic resources to basic education, showing an unprecedented commitment to education that can be leveraged by matches from donors like the U.S.

Success Story

Building a Culture of Reading

“I am interested in helping young children to become readers and writers,” says Pricille Uzanyinzoga, a first-grade Kinyarwanda teacher at Remera Catholic, an elementary school in Kigali, Rwanda.

Since 2012, USAID has been helping Pricille and her dedicated colleagues succeed in their mission through a nationwide initiative called Literacy, Language, and Learning (L3). The program, which is implemented by Education Development Center (EDC), is improving literacy and numeracy instruction in all 2,400 Rwandan public schools through a comprehensive approach that includes materials development, teacher training, and community outreach.

At the core of L3 is the creation of high-quality, locally-developed materials that help teachers teach and students learn. Since 2014, L3 has delivered more than 7 million sets of early grade reading resources – including read-aloud story collections, teacher guides, and daily readers – to students and schools nationwide.

With support from local instructors like Pricille, L3 has also developed and implemented interactive audio lessons that enhance the curriculum and help teachers deliver effective early grade literacy instruction. Teachers are able to play the lessons by using cell phones and portable speakers supplied by L3. (Solar panels to charge these devices are also provided.)

Though she was initially skeptical about the songs, games, and chants used in the interactive audio lessons, Pricille is now enthusiastic about this new way of teaching.

“These are very new practices, for teachers, and also for learners,” she says. “But I discovered that the audio is very helpful, because children are very curious and they follow the lesson. When children are listening to the Kinyarwanda songs, they are learning, they are motivated, and they are happy.”

While materials and teacher training are transforming the quality of instruction within schools, L3’s Community Mobile Library Initiative is spreading a love of reading across Rwanda. The Initiative has established 85 libraries, home to volunteer-led reading and mathematics sessions on weekends and vacations.

The emphasis on local engagement, outreach, and modest technology solutions has enabled L3 to make a sizable impact with only modest funds. Not only has students’ reading fluency and comprehension increased significantly, teachers like Pricille are also more confident and capable of teaching students to read and write.

L3 has cultivated a culture of reading throughout Rwanda – one that will continue to flourish in the years ahead.

Photo: EDC

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