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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 2011-2017, USAID basic education programs directly benefited more than 83 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 69.8 million children and youth who benefited from USAID’s reading programming (49% female and 51% male).

Our Focus

On September 14, 2018, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) released the first-ever U.S. Government Strategy on International Basic Education. A requirement of the 2017 READ Act (PDF 255KB) , the Strategy demonstrates the U.S. Government's commitment to international education and presents an opportunity to advance global diplomatic and development leadership on pressing international education challenges.

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. To accomplish this goal, the U.S. Government has two principal objectives:

  • Improve learning outcomes; and
  • Expand access to quality basic education for all, particularly marginalized and vulnerable populations.

The Strategy, led by USAID’s Senior Coordinator of United States International Basic Education Assistance, provides an opportunity for the U.S. Government to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its international basic education programs and partnerships by increasing coordination and leveraging each department, agency, and official’s unique experience and expertise. These departments, agencies, and officials include:

  • U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Department of State
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Defense
  • Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)
  • National Security Advisor
  • Director of the Peace Corps

USAID Education Policy

USAID is currently in the process of developing a new education policy that will set priority direction for the Agency’s education programs and investments. The policy will build on USAID’s experience in implementing programs under its 2011 Education Strategy. It will be informed by extensive consultations with a range of partners and stakeholders. The policy will align with the new U.S. Government Strategy on International Basic Education.

Results and Progress

Since 2011, USAID-supported basic education programs 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 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: October 01, 2018

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