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Many children and adolescents living in El Salvador face enormous vulnerabilities associated with high rates of crime and gang violence including poor quality education, exclusion from secondary education, early pregnancy and limited employment opportunities. School desertion rates are very high and are impacted by insecurity. Only about 50 percent of youth attend early secondary school (7th-9th grades), and only half of these go on to complete high school. There are over 300,000 youth aged 15 to 24 that neither study nor work. El Salvador has the highest homicide rate in the world for youth under the age of 19.

In support of the goals under the Alliance for Prosperity Plan (A4P), as well as those of the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America, USAID programs focus on education and workforce development to increase economic productivity in regions of high risk as identified by Plan El Salvador Seguro (PESS), the National strategy which addresses security and education opportunities in high crime municipalities.

The Salvadoran workforce lacks the skills needed in the productive and business sector. Higher education and vocational training can guide curriculums necessary to address this gap to match skills with labor expectations. As identified by the A4P plan of action, progress in education is essential to El Salvador’s development needs because a better educated, competitive workforce will contribute to the country’s economic growth, making it a viable partner in the global economy.


Aligned with the A4P and the USAID Global Education Strategy, USAID education projects help increase access to quality, relevant education for approximately 113,500 children and youth in high-crime communities. These programs provide alternatives to crime, violence and gang involvement and expand economic opportunities.  Activities focus particularly on the education needs at the lower secondary level, grades seven to nine, when children are most prone to drop-out and are vulnerable to gang recruitment. USAID projects support the Government of El Salvador (GoES) Ministry of Education expansion of the Full-Time Inclusive School model, which uses child-centered interactive teaching methodologies, extends the school day with tutoring, and offers extracurricular activities such as sports, music, art and computer training. USAID programs also support school sponsorship by private-sector partners, as well as, local education organizations to help out-of-school youth return to formal classes or earn an equivalent diploma. Several USAID projects provide technical and vocational training to prepare youth for the labor market, as well as, supporting youth entrepreneur initiatives and the hiring of marginalized youth. USAID also focuses on improving the quality of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and increasing opportunities for students to attend colleges and universities, and providing advanced certification courses for teachers to improve the quality of education in public schools.

USAID assistance:

  • Increases access to quality education & provides after-school programs for youth in high-risk communities
  • Strives to improve school retention and promotion rates at the secondary level by keeping students engaged & extending the school day within a safe learning environment with the help of sponsorship programs
  • Expands out-of-school programs that provide remedial basic education academic skills, equivalent high school diplomas, workforce readiness and vocational training
  • Improves teaching and learning practices and public school infrastructure by identifying, evaluating & prioritizing the needs of each community
  • Strengthens higher education programs and increases opportunities for disadvantaged youth by establishing partnerships among GoES Ministry of Education, private sector partners, and HEIs in the US & El Salvador
  • Increases workforce development and economic productivity by closing the gap between educational skills and labor market expectations


Education for Children and Youth at Risk


USAID Higher Education for Economic Growth

USAID Bridges to Employment

Last updated: May 24, 2019

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