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Our Work

USAID supports education through its development work in Macedonia
USAID supports education through its development work in Macedonia
USAID's Readers are Leaders Project

USAID has worked alongside the government of Macedonia, the private sector, and civil society since 1993, to further the country’s progress towards a stable and prosperous democracy and Euro-Atlantic integration. Despite early progress, Macedonia’s completion of the European Union (EU) accession process has been hindered by its inability to implement EU recommendations for changes in governance, rule of law, human rights protection, freedom of media, and private sector competitiveness. Divisions along ethnic lines, lack of readiness on the part of Macedonian businesses to compete successfully in the EU market, and a weak education system are among the country’s challenges. Parliamentary elections in December 2016 resulted in a change in government, and municipal elections in October 2017 were judged by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) and key Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to have been both peaceful and well-administrated.

USAID has invested over $640 million in programs that have reduced corruption, created new jobs, supported free and fair elections, and improved the quality of education. However, much remains to be done to address recent heightened concerns of democratic backsliding, and to prepare Macedonia for EU membership. This includes improving its capacity to cope with the competitive pressures and market forces within the EU economy, strengthening democratic and judicial institutions, providing accessible education for all, and increasing media independence.

ACCELERATING ECONOMIC GROWTH

Following an extended political crisis, EU and U.S. officials facilitated a dialogue between the main political parties leading to new parliamentary elections in December 2016 and formation of a new government in June 2017. An ambitious reform agenda focused on economic growth, job creation, fair taxation, support to small and medium enterprises, and reform of social protection for the most vulnerable is now underway. An action plan outlines set of measures to accelerate the process of EU and NATO accession, with the aim of securing a date for the start of EU accession negotiations by spring 2018.

USAID is working to improve the business environment by helping to improve the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, increase access to investment capital, modernize the public inspections system, and streamline procedures for investment in green energy. Key accomplishments include supporting Macedonia’s membership in the World Trade Organization, improving efficiency and transparency of government services through e-government solutions, creating several sustainable financial and training institutions that target micro and small enterprises, helping sectors improve product value and quality for entry to new markets, and increasing efficiency through new technologies. From 2012-2016, USAID financed economic growth projects assisted close to 5,350 companies and farmers and helped create over 3,500 new jobs in Macedonia.

PROMOTING GOOD GOVERNANCE

Euro-Atlantic integration has provided the primary incentive for political reforms in the Republic of Macedonia since independence from Yugoslavia. Despite early successes, such as joining the NATO Membership Action Plan in 1999 and EU candidate status in 2005, the country abandoned many of these critical processes in the wake of the 2008 Bucharest Summit. The ramifications were witnessed in 2015, when a wiretapping scandal exposed systemic corruption and anti-democratic behavior by senior officials inside and outside of government. In 2016, Freedom House's Nations in Transition report demoted the country from a "semi-consolidated democracy" to a "transitional government or hybrid regime." In 2017, the report cited further decline in ratings in national democratic governance, electoral process, the judiciary, and corruption as the political crisis reached a boiling point. With a change in government in mid-2017, there is now renewed political will to focus on governance issues as part of a broader reforms plan.

To promote improved governance, USAID helps Macedonian CSOs and government institutions promote free and fair electoral processes; support greater accountability and transparency in government decision-making processes and political life broadly speaking; advance and deepen civic engagement; strengthen the protection of human rights; and increase the independence and quality of the media organizations and their reporting. In sum, USAID’s democracy and governance program in Macedonia supports a wide range of local actors and initiatives to address the major challenges to democratic institutions and processes and strengthen the linkages between citizens and their government.

Key accomplishments include increasing municipal financial independence, helping to develop and implement the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, automating court case management and budget systems, unifying and modernizing municipal finance and tax administration in all 84 municipalities, supporting public debates to promote diversity and interethnic integration, contributing to free & fair elections, helping to establish the Macedonian Institute for Media (MIM), supporting new laws on courts, enforcement, the judicial council, civil procedure, parliament, and NGOs, supporting establishment of a reliable system for enforcement of civil court decisions.

PROVIDING QUALITY EDUCATION TO ALL CITIZENS

Multiple international studies indicate that Macedonia trails in educational performance behind other countries transitioning from a planned to a market economy. The major issues contributing to the problem are inefficiency in implementing new education methodologies and best practices required for success in the modern workforce, and increasing ethnic division within the education system leading to ethnic segregation. USAID works with the Ministry of Education and Science (MOES) to ensure that youth are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary that will contribute to economic growth and a prosperous multi-ethnic society. Through its partnerships, USAID supports equal access to education for all children and at all levels of the education system. Currently our focus is on improving children’s foundational skills of reading and mathematics and increasing parental involvement in education as well as community-level recognition of the value of literacy and numeracy.

Key accomplishments include strengthening the capacity of more than 10,000 educators in modern interactive teaching and assessment methods, renovating 193 schools (in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense), and establishing the first multi-language higher education institution in Macedonia, South East European University.

USAID has also been instrumental in helping the government develop and promulgate a formal strategy for integration, a significant step in addressing complex issues related to ethnic division in Macedonia, which is evidenced most clearly in the education system. Finally, USAID has helped Macedonia provide nationwide wireless internet access through initiatives to provide on-line connectivity to schools.

CONTACTS

USAID/Macedonia Mission
David Atteberry
Country Representative
American Embassy Skopje
Samoilova 21,1000 Skopje
Republic of Macedonia
Tel: +389-2-310-2000
Fax: +389-2-310-2499

Headquarters

Thomas Gillis
Desk Officer for Macedonia
Tel: 202-567-4033
Email: tgillis@usaid.gov

Last updated: November 20, 2017

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