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Education is Transformational

Education serves as a driver for development and the elimination of extreme poverty. Education is transformational for individuals and societies--it creates pathways to better health, economic growth, a sustainable environment, and peaceful, democratic societies. A person’s earnings increase by 10 percent with each year of school they complete. Women with higher levels of education have healthier children. And increasing the average level of higher education in a country by just one year can add half a percentage point of growth to GDP.

Despite unprecedented increases in school enrollment over the last decade, there is still a global learning crisis—387 million children are unable to read, write or do basic math despite most of them attending school. Some 121 million children living in crisis and conflict affected countries are not in school, and the number is growing. In addition, 114 million youth aged 15 to 24 cannot read or write a simple sentence; nearly two thirds are women.

From 2011-2015, USAID has supported 151 basic education programs in 45 countries, directly benefiting more than 41.6 million children and youth.

Globally, girls are especially disadvantaged--right now, 130 million girls are not in school worldwide, and millions more face barriers to staying in school. Yet we know that when girls are educated, their families are healthier, they have fewer children, they get married later, and they have more opportunities to generate income.

Females make up almost half of the children and youth who benefited from USAID’s basic education programming (20.2 million females and 21.4 million males).

Our Focus

Resolving the global learning crisis--ensuring all children and youth are in school and learning-- requires political will at the highest levels and strong collaboration in the countries where we work.  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. We do this by working to achieve the goals of the USAID Education Strategy, including:

  • Improving the reading skills of students in the primary grades to increase school success and completion;
  • Increasing employment opportunities for youth, and strengthening higher education systems, so youth can find good jobs and contribute to the economic growth of their countries; and
  • Increasing equitable access to education in crisis and conflict environments.

Learning, effectiveness, accountability, and transparency are central to the success of our strategy. To most effectively reach our goals, and the goals of our host country partners, USAID collaborates with partners globally to generate and use evidence as the basis for continuous learning and program improvement.

Progress Under the Current USAID Education Strategy

USAID accomplishments under the current Education Strategy take many forms, including providing clarity on USAID priorities in education, concentrating investments at the global and country level, contributing to education service delivery in our partner countries, and establishing critical partnerships and collaborations that have advanced the goals of the strategy.

USAID-supported basic education programs aligned with the Education Strategy have directly benefited more than 83 million individual learners. Donor and country partners have extended our approaches to a further 26 million learners, bringing the overall reach of our programming to more than 109 million children and youth.

From 2011-2017, USAID results include:

  • 69.8 million children provided early grade reading instruction (49% female, 51% male);
  • 22.6 million children living in conflict or crisis settings extended education opportunities. Through this work, an estimated 4.1 million children and youth, who would otherwise have been out of school, have access to education; and
  • 725,000 youth provided new or improved employment opportunities.

Report of initial progress achieved under the Education Strategy from 2011-2015. (PDF 2.6MB)

Report of additional progress achieved under the Education Strategy from 2011-2017 (PDF 3.6MB).

Learn More

Fact sheets on USAID’s education programs: (PDF 112KB):

See how USAID is partnering to make a difference in global education:

Read USAID's Education Strategy and accompanying documents to learn more:

Last updated: July 24, 2018

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