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Many children and adolescents in El Salvador face enormous vulnerabilities: poor quality education, exclusion from secondary education, limited employment opportunities, early pregnancy, and violence.  Although primary school enrollment and completion rates have steadily increased in the last decades, only about 50 percent of youth attend early secondary school (7-9th 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 of youth under the age of 19.

The Partnership for Growth (PFG) analysis conducted by the U.S. and El Salvador also revealed shortcomings in human capital development.  The Salvadoran workforce lacks the skills needed in the productive and business sector. Higher education and vocational training institute curriculums need to address the gap to match skills with labor expectations.

As identified by the PFG analysis and 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 Partnership for Growth initiative and the USAID Global Education Strategy, USAID education projects help increase access to quality, relevant education for 500,000 children and youth in high-crime communities to provide alternatives to crime and violence and gang involvement and to expand economic opportunities.  Activities particularly focus on the education needs at the lower secondary level, grades seven to nine, when children are prone to drop-out, by supporting the expansion of the Salvadoran Ministry of Education’s Full-Time Inclusive School model, which uses child-centered interactive teaching methodologies and extends the school day with tutoring, and extracurricular activities such as sports, music, art and computer training.  The USAID program also helps 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.  USAID also focuses on improving the quality of higher education institutions (HEI) and increasing opportunities for students to attend colleges and universities.

USAID assistance:

  • Improves teaching and learning practices
  • Helps decrease the high drop-out and repetition rates at the secondary level
  • Expands out-of-school programs that provide remedial basic education academic skills and workforce readiness and equivalent high school diplomas
  • Increases access to higher education opportunities for disadvantaged youth
  • Strengthens higher education programs by establishing partnerships among Salvadoran, U.S. HEIs, and private-sector partners

Last updated: May 18, 2016

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