• First Lady Michelle Obama is raising her voice to ‘Let Girls Learn’ in the new issue of FrontLines

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  • Let Girls Learn

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  • Goal 1: Improved reading skills for 100 million children in primary grades by 2015

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  • "Goal 2: Improved ability of tertiary and workforce development programs to produce a workforce with relevant skills to support country development goals by 2015."

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  • Goal 3: Increased equitable access to education in crisis and conflict environments for 15 million learners by 2015.

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Panel: Engaging Generation Now
Panel: Engaging Generation Now
Achieving Dreams and Changing Perceptions: A Young Woman’s Journey to a Brighter Future
Out-of-School Youth Learn Trades in the Philippines
USAID Kenya Success Story Spreading Early Literacy in Northern Kenya
Spreading Early Literacy in Northern Kenya

A good education is the key to a better life and a stronger economy. 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.

Over the last decade, the world has witnessed incredible increases in school enrollment.

But tragically, studies show there is still a learning crisis—children attending school still leave without the ability to read, write and do basic math.

In Mali, Peru and Pakistan, reading tests show that 70 percent of primary school children can’t read at grade level, with many unable to read at all -- and these aren't the only countries with such problems. With youth bulges in countries throughout the developing world, a growing number of young people find they lack the knowledge they need to get a job and earn a living.

Globally, girls are especially disadvantaged by poor quality education and low access levels. Right now, 62 million girls are not in school world-wide, and millions more are fighting to stay there. 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. That is why USAID is working hard to ensure girls and boys can safely enroll and learn in schools through our education programs around the world.  

Reversing the trends that have created the learning crisis requires a focus on learning, not just school access. That’s why our programs tackle some of the biggest barriers to education for children.

We are focused on:

  • Improving reading skills in primary schools, by strengthening teaching techniques, materials, curricula and tests, so students can quickly master this essential skill;
  • Strengthening higher education and workforce development programs, so young people—especially disadvantaged communities and women—can find good jobs and contribute to the economic growth of their countries;
  • Expanding access to education in regions witnessing crisis and conflict, so that we can curb inequality that fuels tension; and
  • Fostering innovation in education through All Children Reading, our Grand Challenge for Development designed to develop new learning materials and methods, improve the collection and analysis of education data and use mobile phones and tablets to improve literacy.

In the past, we’ve helped develop higher education institutions in 77 countries; trained thousands of doctors, economists and scientists; and expand access to school for millions.

As a result of our current efforts, by 2015, we will:

  • Improve the reading skills of 100 million primary school children;
  • Improve the quality of higher education and workforce development programs to produce a workforce with relevant skills to support country development goals; and
  • Expand equitable access to education in crisis and conflict environments to 15 million children.

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

Last updated: July 29, 2016

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