In the Middle East, USAID and the Department of State's Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) promoted quality education through improved policy, teacher training, education, finance/governance, and community participation. These U.S. efforts complemented investments of partner countries and other donors. Between FY-2002 and FY-2007, MEPI funding for projects in basic education totaled approximately $90 million.
The U.S. Strategy to Meet Challenges in Education
To promote transformational diplomacy and development, the Department of State and USAID have articulated a common Foreign Assistance Framework. In the framework’s "Investing in People" objective, education is a major element with basic education as an important sub-element. This strategy is applied to programs worldwide, including Muslim countries.
Basic Education: USAID has an agency-wide Basic Education Strategy that targets underserved populations and promotes free universal basic education. The goal is to help learners gain the general skills and knowledge needed to function effectively in life. Basic education programs focus on three areas, which also provide the strategic goals for the Middle East Partnership Initiative’s (MEPI) education programming in the Middle East and North Africa:
In designing and implementing basic education programs throughout the world, USAID works closely with host-country governments (national and local), non-governmental organizations, communities, and the private sector to maximize program impact and sustainability.
Working with the International Community. The United States continued to be an active member of several international bodies and activities to achieve universal basic education, including the International Working Group on Education, which originally proposed the "Education for All" (EFA) initiative begun in the late 1980s.
Coordination of the International Effort. USAID provides technical guidance to the EFA effort through the UNESCO-aligned International Institute for Educational Planning. The U.S. Director of Foreign Assistance represents the United States at the annual EFA high level group meeting. The USAID Office of Education participates in the annual EFA working group meeting. USAID has participated in all Fast Track Initiative (FTI) meetings since its inception in 2000.
In engaging the G8 and Muslim country governments for Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) initiatives, USAID collaborates closely with the State Department and key cooperating U.S. agencies, especially on literacy. At the June 2004 G8 Sea Island Summit, the G8 launched the BMENA Literacy Initiative aimed at halving illiteracy rates in the region by 2015. This initiative launched a series of Literacy Working Group and Education Ministerial Dialogues in the BMENA region. Education Ministers from the BMENA region and the G8 met in Jordan in May 2005 and in Egypt in May 2006, and confirmed their commitment to the process of cooperation under the umbrella of the Forum for the Future launched in Rabat in December 2004. Following the Egypt Ministerial, USAID took over as G8 co-chair of the BMENA Literacy Task Force with Egypt as regional co-chair. As part of the USG contribution to this international effort, USAID is supporting literacy assessments in the region and has developed the BMENA ‘Literacy Hub’ database of global best practices in promoting literacy.
Leveraging Other Donors. USAID coordinates closely with multilateral donors (e.g., the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)) and other bilateral donors in each country, often extending the reach of USAID programs. In Indonesia, the Australian bilateral aid agency, AusAID, used USAID pilot education program as the basis for its new basic education project. Collaboration with AusAID, as well as other donors such as UNICEF, continued during implementation in the form of jointly-prepared training materials and activities in communities to avoid duplication as well as to combine approaches in working with local and national officials. This coordinated approach has extended donor program coverage in Indonesia in the education sector.
In Tajikistan, training modules on interactive learning and teaching methods and teacher trainers support the Government of Tajikistan's implementation of the EFA FTI, leveraging funds of approximately $1.6 million. The USAID basic education project also complements WB and ADB projects in the area of education finance, curriculum revision, teacher training, and strengthening capacity of teacher training institutes. In Kyrgyzstan, a USAID-supported independent testing organization won a WB tender to implement student assessments. USAID-developed teacher standards are used in revision of the teacher incentive system. The basic education project collaborates with the ADB project by providing training for textbook authors.
Leveraging Contributions from the Private Sector and Civil Society Organizations. The USG uses its Official Development Assistance (ODA) to leverage other resources for education by developing alliances or partnerships with the private sector and NGOs, including civil society organizations. USAID's Global Development Alliances (GDAs), also known as public-private partnerships, are tailored to country-specific needs and the private sector partners' interests. Below are several examples of ongoing and new country-specific partnerships in the region:
USAID's Office of Middle East Affairs recently finalized a new GDA that will engage and support emerging youth leaders in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and West Bank/Gaza. Save the Children International, in partnership with the Ford Foundation, will create a youth development tool kit and link emerging young leaders to a network of youth development workers and institutions that assist young people to build leadership capacity and exercise positive, moderate leadership behaviors within a community development context.
In cooperation with the Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), Scholastic Inc. is providing 8.2 million Arabic-language classroom libraries to more than 40,620 classrooms in more than 6,770 primary schools in the Middle East and North Africa. Scholastic's substantive contribution allows MEPI to leverage its $12 million investment in this critical-thinking and independent reading skills development program. In another example, MEPI's partnership with the CISCO Learning Institute developed on-line English language curricular materials to complement the efforts of the private sector-based World Economic Forum (WEF)-sponsored Jordan Education Initiative.
USG Coordination to Reduce Duplication and Waste. The Department of State and USAID work closely together implementing their Foreign Assistance Framework, which includes education. Through this framework and a joint Operational Plan process, the Department of State and USAID coordinate to reduce duplication of effort and/or waste.
USAID collaborates actively with the Department of State’s MEPI to promote education in Muslim countries within the Near East region, with a focus on civic education. The MEPI education pillar supports education systems that enable all people, especially girls, to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in today's economy, participate actively and effectively in the civic arena, and improve the quality of their lives and that of their families. MEPI and USAID coordinate to minimize any potential duplication of efforts and investments. A modest number of MEPI-funded education programs, notably the support for the Arab Civitas network, are implemented in conjunction with USAID. MEPI is also providing funding for an Arabic version of the Global Learning Portal, a project under the auspices of the BMENA initiative. The Portal will provide new avenues of professional collaboration and benefit educators and idea leaders across the Arab world.
Training and Exchange Programs. Bridging both basic and higher education, USAID and the State Department coordinate in the area of providing training and exchanges for students from Muslim-majority countries to the United States. In addition to the educational value of these kinds of interventions, participants are exposed to American values, culture, and democratic institutions. Many of these programs directly benefit basic education. In Egypt, 100 scholarships will be awarded to enhance the Education Ministry's technical college instructor capacity through "Train-the-Trainer" teacher preparation programs. In Pakistan, secondary school educators will attend a five-week program in the United States, focusing on mathematics, science, and classroom technology.
Scholarship Programs. The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) has launched two new pilot scholarship programs, the basic-education based “MEPI Scholarship Program,” and the higher-education based “Tomorrow’s Leaders” program, using $9 million in FY-2006 funds. The MEPI Scholarship Program is providing disadvantaged youth with the opportunity to receive a democratic based education (grades 7–12) at American-sponsored schools abroad. The program was launched in Oman, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan, for the September 2007 school year and was enthusiastically received by teachers, parents, students, and the communities. With an additional $2.7 million in FY-2007 funds, the program has grown to include more students at the initial pilot schools and has expanded to include the affiliate school in Lebanon. The “Tomorrow’s Leaders” scholarship recipients will be selected from among the underserved around the Middle East and North Africa, and the scholarship will provide them with a four-year academic and internship/study-abroad opportunity with specialized curricula to develop their civic engagement, entrepreneurial, and leadership skills.
USAID's Training Future Leaders initiative highlights the importance of U.S.-trained scholars and their unique role in developing their nations upon returning home. A USAID analytical study on prior USG investments will inform future program design and provide a "best practices" framework for long-term training programs. Currently, field research is being done in Yemen, Egypt, Nepal, and Indonesia. This program complements ongoing efforts carried out by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and MEPI.
Funds Needed to Achieve Universal Basic Education. UNESCO estimates that $5.6 billion is needed per year to achieve EFA by 2015. Globally, UNESCO estimated that 103 million children were out of school in 2002/2003. For the countries in the Muslim world, this figure is estimated to be around 45 million. Estimating that it costs roughly $50 per year per child to complete basic education (six years of schooling), it would cost $2.2 billion per year in Muslim countries as a whole to achieve universal basic education.
Efforts to Encourage Development and Implementation of a National Education Plan.
In countries with predominantly Muslim populations, the effectiveness of basic education systems is at the crux of their development and of their potential to moderate the negative influence of low growth, joblessness, lagging social services, and despair. The USG encourages countries to develop and implement national education plans by offering assistance to support education, reform developments, and program funding once reforms have moved into the implementation phase. The United States has influenced national education plans and reform by way of pilot programs that model best practices in education. These positive experiences galvanize support for broader change and can impact the education system beyond the pilot programs' localities. Model programs also potentially have an impact outside of targeted interventions. In Indonesia, for example, USAID helped the provincial government of Aceh with its new long-term education strategy, developed after decades of conflict and the 2004 tsunami. This strategic plan was recently endorsed by the Government of Indonesia's Ministry of National Education.
Fulbright-Hays Programs. Under authority of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (Fulbright-Hays Act), the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs conducts a variety of programs designed to increase mutual understanding, promote international cooperation, and foster friendly and peaceful relations between the United States and other countries in the world.
Among the programs relevant to this report are the following:
The English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) provides English classes for deserving high school students from non-elite sectors in countries with significant Muslim populations and other key student audiences. Students receive language instruction in a civic education context and become more competitive for future job and educational opportunities. Access also prepares them to be considered for other U.S. exchange programs.
Through its Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES) and Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX), the State Department brings high school students to live with American host families and attend American high schools for one academic year. Participants in the YES Program are from countries with significant Muslim populations, while FLEX students are from Eurasia. Both the YES and FLEX students perform community service while in the United States, and have the opportunity to take part in a number of enhancement activities designed to heighten their awareness of civic responsibility and leadership.
Under Youth Leadership Programs, high school studentsand educators from all regions of the world come to the United States for two to four-week programs that focus on specific themes related to science, cultural heritage, leadership development, civic education, conflict management, and community activism.
The Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (TEA) provides secondary school teachers from Eurasia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia with unique opportunities to enhance their teaching skills and increase their knowledge about the United States. The participants attend a six-week professional teacher development program in the United States, which includes a three-week internship at a secondary school where participants actively engage with American teachers and students. Also, the TEA program provides follow-on grants to the international teachers to purchase essential materials for their schools, to offer follow-on training for other teachers, and to conduct other activities that will build on the exchange visits.
The State Department's International Leaders in Education Program is a semester-long program for secondary teachers that includes university coursework, intensive training in teaching methodologies, leadership development, and use of computers as tools for teaching. The program includes an eight-week internship at U.S. secondary schools to engage participants in the American classroom experience. The program currently serves Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen.
The State Department's Global Connections and Exchange Program seeks to promote mutual understanding and civic education in countries with significant Muslim populations by bringing together more than 1,000 schools from 16 countries for online collaborative projects that focus on professional development, media literacy, and civic education. Teachers also develop skills needed to participate in collaborative activities with U.S. schools, and teachers and students are offered opportunities to travel to their partner schools as a way to strengthen mutual understanding and solidify virtual relationships through face-to-face meetings.
Since 2005, MEPI has worked in partnership with Ministries of Education in Yemen and Algeria to help them refine and implement their National Education Plans. Efforts in Yemen focused on developing a workable strategy by which to incorporate information technology into Yemen’s broader education goals.
Closing the Digital Divide and Expanding Vocational/Business Skills
To "close the digital divide" and expand vocational/business skills, USAID, the Department of State, and other agencies implement public-private partnerships, information technology in the classroom, school-to-work and workforce training programs, improved quality of basic and secondary education programs, scholarships, and exchanges. A few programs are highlighted below.
Countries Eligible for Assistance. USAID education programs in Muslim-majority countries and countries with large Muslim populations potentially overlap with and reinforce those which might be targeted by the USG’s International Youth Opportunity Fund [Section 7114(b)]. Below is a list, though not exhaustive, of programs in the Asia Near East, Africa, Europe, and Eurasia regions.
o Afghanistan. Students need to catch up to their appropriate grade level because many children and youth lost years of formal schooling. USAID created an accelerated learning program, compressing two years of study into a single year through innovative teaching techniques. This program has trained around 10,500 teachers and enrolled nearly 170,000 students. More than half the students are girls. In addition, USAID has printed and distributed nationwide 48.5 million textbooks for grades 1-12. Since 2002, USAID in conjunction with the Ministry of Education has built or refurbished 622 schools, mostly in remote areas.
o In Bangladesh, Sesame Street Bangladesh, known locally as Sisimpur, is USAID's most recognized activity in the country. The program began airing in April 2005 and is the first show of its kind in Bangladesh. The half-hour television programs provide access to literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking skills for almost half of the estimated nine million three to six-year-olds in Bangladesh. This prepares them for learning success and helps to combat traditionally low achievement and high drop out rates in the lower primary grades. USAID also supports the Early Learning for School Success Program (SUCCEED) operation of 1,800 preschools which prepare preschool-aged children for school by improving reading and math skills and expanding access to primary schools. A further aim of the program is to increase children's confidence and to reduce high dropout rates by enriching early learning opportunities prior to formal education. The program has established 1,800 preschools across the country (600 are based in schools and 1,200 are based in homes) and trained over 1,800 preschool teachers in new interactive methodologies.
o USAID/Egypt supports the Government of Egypt in sustaining improvements in learning outcomes in grades K-12. The program focuses on improving teaching and learning, increasing equitable access to education, and strengthening management and governance in seven governorates. Activities include in-service teacher training, school libraries, information technology, and some school construction in remote and densely populated areas. To date, USAID has also provided 5 million books to over 5,000 Egyptian primary schools. Over 39,000 students now have access to computer technology. USAID has built 70 new girls schools serving almost 40,000 students. USAID supported the development of the Egyptian Sesame Street, which helps over 85 percent of all children under age eight acquire early literacy and numeracy skills.
o The program in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, works with over 100 districts (25 percent of the nation), providing training and technical assistance to school officials, communities, and local governments on education management and finance. This Presidential initiative also includes in-service teacher training, mentoring, and teacher resource centers to improve the quality of classroom instruction. Over 245,000 junior secondary students and out-of-school youth are learning employment-related life skills while working toward school completion or its equivalency. USAID supports an Indonesian version of Sesame Street, which went on the air in 2007. Through direct assistance and dissemination of best practices, education programs are expected to reach 9,000 public and private schools, 2.5 million students, 90,000 educators, and one million out-of-school youth by 2010.
o In July 2003, the Government of Jordanlaunched a five-year, $380 million program, developed with USAID assistance, Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy (ERfKE) initiative. This initiative is one of the most ambitious education reform programs in the Arab region to date; its goal is to re-orient education policy, restructure education programs and practices, improve physical learning environments, and promote learning readiness through improved and more accessible early childhood education. USAID, in coordination with Jordan and eight other donor nations and multilateral organizations, will provide $80 million during this strategy period to support reform efforts through ERfKE. USAID's efforts under this initiative: assist the Government of Jordan's early child care initiative, creating 100 public kindergartens, field-test curriculum, and develop an accreditation system; develop school-to-work programs and an IT curriculum stream for high school students; connect 100 ‘Discovery' schools to broadband and test e-learning modules for all subject; expand youth and life skills programs to secondary schools in new underserved areas in Jordan; and, construct up to 28 new schools and rehabilitate another 100 schools to create the appropriate learning environment that supports the reform efforts and accommodates the recent influx of refugees from the region.
o In Pakistan, USAID supports the government’s education reform strategy by: strengthening education policy and planning; improving the skills and performance of teachers and administrators; increasing youth and adult literacy; expanding public-private partnerships; and, providing school improvement grants and involving parents and communities in public schools. Over 9,000 parent-teacher associations received school improvement grants helping communities to build over 3,000 new classrooms, reconstruct over 1,000 more classrooms, build over 1,200 toilets, and repair another 1,000. In addition, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), USAID is constructing and furnishing 65 primary, middle, and high schools. USAID is building or restoring water and sanitation facilities at 190 girls' schools. Scholarships have been awarded to 57 women from this area to attend a one-year, pre-service teacher education program.
South Asia also contains countries with significant Muslim populations though not in the majority, such as India with the second largest Muslim population in the world.
o USAID/India's pilot program introduces the formal curriculum in eleven Islamic religious schools (madrassas), complementing the Indian government's efforts to modernize madrassa education. The program reaches over 2,500 out-of-school youth and working children, particularly adolescent girls. A state government has decided to scale-up this model with its own resources, benefiting over 90,000 children in 1,200 madrassas by September 2008.
o In the Philippines (Mindanao), education programs aim at improving education quality and access, and providing livelihood skills training for out-of-school youth. USAID and the U.S. Peace Corps jointly help improve instruction in English, science, and math by training over 21,000 elementary and secondary school teachers, as well as mobilizing over 300 Parent-Teacher Community Associations. Computer and Internet education was also introduced.
o The sub-Saharan Africa region includes a number of important Muslim and Muslim majority countries, in which support for basic education activities and improved learning opportunities for in-school and out-of-school youth figure prominently. While USAID has been working with predominately Muslim countries and communities in the education sector in Africa from the 1960s, since the events of 9/11, the Africa Bureau's Office of Sustainable Development (AFR/SD) has re-evaluated the role of education and taken a more strategic approach to address the concerns of a post-9/11 society. USAID partners with Muslim communities to ensure that children in these communities are receiving the best and broadest education possible and that USAID is working collaboratively to create an enabling socio-economic environment that will ultimately lead to greater global peace, security, and understanding.
In support of President Bush's $100 million East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative (EACTI), USAID initiated programs in East Africa in 2003 that provided basic education opportunities in marginalized Muslim communities. The targeted countries included Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Eritrea had been part of the original list, but was eliminated when USAID/Eritrea ended its operations. A summary of these programs include:
o USAID/Ethiopia implements various activities in Muslim-dominated areas particularly in Somali, Afar, and Oromia regions. The activities include support to pre-service and in-service teacher training to improve the quality of primary education; provision of capacity-building training for Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and community members to increase parent and community involvement in school management; building the capacity of education officers to improve the planning and management of the education system; and establishment and expansion of alternative basic education centers to provide non-formal primary education to children, especially girls, and adult literacy classes for illiterate Muslim men and women.
o USAID/Kenya's basic education program, Education for Marginalized Children in Kenya (EMACK), is concentrated in the North Eastern and Coast Provinces. Both Provinces have predominantly Muslim populations and the lowest education statistics in the country. This education portfolio began in 2004 with supplemental funding specifically targeted at Muslim communities. At the end of two years the project has had a tremendous impact on enrollment and retention. Over 100,000 children have been reached in the Coast Province. Approximately 250 Early Childhood Development Centers have been supported; over 2,000 teachers were trained in child-centered teaching methods. To date, the School Infrastructure Program has successfully built 107 classrooms, three dining halls, eight dormitories, and supplied 2,000 desks and 300 bunk-beds with mattresses.
o USAID/Tanzania's program focuses on strengthening primary school performance in general and secondary school performance in math and sciences over the next five years. USAID will focus basic education activities for under-served children (especially girls in Muslim and pastoral areas). The U.S. basic education initiative will provide training and materials to teachers and students, allowing thousands of Tanzanian students to receive textbooks written in Kiswahili and allowing girls to receive scholarships. U.S. resources will enable two programs to lay the groundwork over the next five years to: increase the number of girls receiving preschool, primary, and secondary education; improve primary and secondary skills in math and science; and provide specialized training for teachers in math, science, English, and the needs of children with disabilities. USAID works with Muslim and pastoralist populations in geographic areas where there is little or no donor support.
USAID/Tanzania will continue enhancing service delivery in Zanzibar, while adding two pilot districts (Lindi Urban and Mtwara Urban) on the southern Tanzanian mainland. Over 36,000 secondary, 64,000 primary, and 7,000 pre-primary school students will benefit from U.S. support targeting education delivery systems at local, district, and regional levels. In addition, an innovative radio instruction activity will focus on pre-primary and primary-level education. The radio instruction activity will establish 100 informal learning centers, and pilot radio instruction in 40 primary-school classrooms in Zanzibar. In addition, isolated communities in pastoralist areas will establish 70 Community Learning Centers providing equitable access to education for 14,000 children by FY-2008. Children will benefit from quality basic education in Kiswahili, English, math, social studies, science, and life skills.
o USAID/Uganda supports Madrassa Early Childhood Development (ECD), which targets poor communities and builds on existing informal early child education at selected community mosques. Through the Madrassa Resource Centre, communities are supported to establish and manage their own pre-schools by using intense community participation in pre-primary education. The education activities follow a unique structure that was exclusively designed for Madrassas in the Ugandan context. The project seeks to provide access to high quality, culturally relevant, and affordable early childhood education in order to increase the chances children from underprivileged communities will access and succeed in later formal education. To date, the project has achieved the following: 15 community schools have been mobilized and are participating in the program; 13 community schools are being supported post graduation to ensure the long-term sustainability of the pre-schools; 1,207 children are currently enrolled in the new schools and other schools supported by the ECD activity; 282 Schools Management Committee members received training on how to manage their schools; 120 ECD teachers have been trained in ECD methodologies; and 1,810 parents have been mobilized to send their children to the community schools.
In support of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP):
o USAID/Mali's basic education program focuses on supporting moderate madrassas and improving the quality of primary education for Mali's predominantly Muslim population. The program reinforces the Ministry of Education's management capacity; provides school-based and radio-based teacher training; develops interactive radio instruction for students; promotes adult literacy; and mobilizes communities to better manage and advocate for their local primary schools. In the three northern regions of the country, USAID provides scholarships for over 6,000 disadvantaged girls each year.
o USAID/Senegal's program aims at improving basic education in Koranic schools and currently benefits approximately 4,800 vulnerable children living and studying in these schools. The pilot activity, funded by TSCTP, was launched in late 2005. It supports improvements in the living, health, nutrition, and learning conditions of children in Koranic schools. It accomplishes this through the provision of: hot meals; basic learning materials such as pens, books, and notebooks; and first aid kits. The program also provides training to teachers on how to effectively teach languages, math, life skills, and health education. Vocational training is also offered in the areas of carpentry, sewing, masonry, and tannery. Over the past few months, the leaders of these schools have become increasingly receptive to incorporating secular education in their curriculum and in promoting better nutrition and hygiene among their students.
o USAID’s efforts through the President's Africa Education Initiative (AEI) in Niger, Chad, and Mauritania complement the TSCTP's efforts to counter extremism and terrorism. In these countries, USAID has used the AEI's Ambassador Girls' Scholarship Program to improve access to quality education for girls and to engage parents and communities in the north of Mali and throughout Niger, Chad, and Mauritania.
While not part of EACTI or TSCTP, other countries have benefited from USAID's Africa Bureau's efforts to reach out to Muslim populations, including Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa and Nigeria in the West.
In Europe and Eurasia the dissolution of the Soviet Union, followed by the creation of new independent countries in place of the former Soviet republics, and the drastic deterioration of the economic situation during the 1990s, forced many of the new governments to reduce drastically the country's share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) allocated to the education sector. The economic downturn and the challenges of restructuring the economy and the education sector have been particularly severe in Tajikistan, which suffered from a five-year civil war (1992-97).
In 2003, to support the efforts of the Central Asian countries to reform the education sectors, USAID has implemented a regional education project in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Although regional in implementation, the project takes into account the specific needs of each country and aims to utilize windows of opportunity as they arise. The Basic Education Strengthening Program (PEAKS) focuses on five major aspects of the education system: in-service teacher training; classroom-level learning materials and textbook development; parent and community involvement in education decision making; management and technical capacity at all levels of the education system; and, rehabilitation of school infrastructure. The program is implemented in close collaboration with the respective Ministries of Education, Ministry of Finance, teacher training institutes, and other pedagogical and research institutions. USAID also facilitates donor-host country dialogue and collaborates with other donors to ensure complementary design and delivery of education activities.
USAID/E&E EDUCATION PROGRAM IMPACT IN FOUR MUSLIM MAJORITY CENTRAL ASIAN COUNTRIES (2002 - 2006)
|TYPE OF PROGRAM||MAJOR PROGRAM COMPONENTS||REGIONAL IMPACT (approximate numbers)|
|Increase Access to Education Opportunities||School and classroom construction and rehabilitation||Rehabilitated 113 schools (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan)|
|School finance||Piloted new school finance mechanism based on per capita funding formula to improve efficiency. Results include more efficient student/teacher ratios in pilot areas (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan).|
|Increase the Quality of Education||Teacher training||8,142 primary and secondary school teachers trained in interactive, student-centered methods with mentoring and other follow-up support (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan).|
|Community and parental involvement||174 school community committees strengthened to support school quality improvements (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan).|
|Model school program||300 "Model Schools" model best practices in the use of new teaching methods, management practices and community involvement (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan).|
Kyrgyzstan. Strengthening the ability of the education sector to deliver quality education relevant to the needs of market-based democracy will facilitate Kyrgyzstan’s democratic transition and economic performance and competitiveness. USAID provides teacher training and resource development for 11 pilot schools, which in turn will serve as teacher training centers for 84 cluster schools. The Professional Development Schools (PDS) have been recognized by the Government of Kyrgyzstan as the alternate teacher training providers, a significant accomplishment in a country with a highly centralized educational system that does not readily look to alternate service providers. The Government of Kyrgyzstan pays a salary for a PDS coordinator. From the inception of the project, 90,268 students have benefited from this program and 12,062 teachers have received training. In addition, USAID funds the Kyrgyz National Scholarship Test, which helps to fight corruption by enabling high school graduates to receive merit-based scholarships for higher education.
Tajikistan. Keeping momentum towards democratic reform in Tajikistan is critical, and a strong education system is an important tool to support that goal. While the basic education project initially focused on primary grades that were considered in most urgent need of support, additional resources allowed the project to expand to cover grades 5-11 and to introduce the Reading, Writing, and Critical Thinking Program. From the inception of the project, 53,105 students benefited from this program and 481 teachers received training.
In addition to the regionally implemented PEAKS project, USAID is also supporting a basic education project through the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF). This project works in remote, mountainous areas where teachers seldom have access to professional development activities. As a result of teacher training improvements, teachers report increased attendance, return to school of students who stopped attending, and new motivation to study among the students. From its inception, the USAID-AKF project has benefited 5,000 students and trained 1,057 teachers.
Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan has taken the disturbing step of essentially eliminating upper secondary education by reducing the length of study to nine years instead of the standard ten years (under the Soviet system). In addition, the shift to the almost total reliance on the late President Niyazov's books (Rukhnama) as the primary curriculum, which emphasizes loyalty to the president and his spiritual teachings, has resulted in devastating deterioration of education quality and relevance and created a vast knowledge vacuum which will affect many generations to come. Young people under the age of 15 make up nearly 35 percent of the population in Turkmenistan - the second largest percentage of youth in the Europe and Eurasia region. As a result of the President Niyazov's education reforms, upper secondary enrollments have fallen from 67 % to 27 % since 1991. This means that approximately one in four students aged 15 to 18 is enrolled in school.
Besides a small-scale UNICEF initiative in primary and secondary education, USAID has been the only other donor involved in education. Although the Government of Turkmenistan has not formally endorsed the program, it has allowed interested schools to work with the USAID-funded project. Assistance-to-date has focused on teacher training in interactive teaching and learning methods. Up to now, 57,335 students have benefited from the project and 533 teachers received training.
The change of leadership following the death in 2006 of President Niyazov may create opportunities for broader engagement. President Berdimuhammedov announced that Turkmenistan will embark on reform to align the education system with international standards. If implemented, this may provide an opportunity for U.S. involvement in basic education reform.