ATHENS, West Virginia — The U.S. Government Strategy on International Basic Education works “to achieve a world where education systems in partner countries enable all individuals to acquire the education and skills [necessary]to be productive members of society.” In line with this goal, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Education Policy “aims to achieve sustained, measurable improvements in learning outcomes and skills development” to advance education globally.
The Goals of the USAID Education Policy
The principles of the USAID Education Policy aim to help partner countries to develop self-reliance through education. That means each country should be able to “sustainably finance and equitably deliver services that measurably improve learning outcomes and skill acquisition for all children and youth, from early childhood and primary education to secondary and higher education.”
The international basic education policy concentrates its efforts through investments that will “measurably and sustainably improve learning and educational outcomes in developing countries,” such as improving the conditions of local institutions by building schools in underserved communities.
Through its education policy, USAID can promote equity and inclusion by providing basic education to those living in developing countries as well as investing in the education of young women and girls. The policy also helps provide resources by collaborating with other governments on the world stage and preparing developing countries to use evidence and data in making decisions while also investing in self-reliance.
Far-Reaching Benefits of Education
The policy prioritizes children and youth, especially those from marginalized and vulnerable areas, in increasing access to quality education. The policy aims to provide and improve “literacy, numeracy and social-emotional skills” critical to future learning. By investing in education, people in developing countries are more likely to live more “productive lives,” secure employment and “contribute to society.”
Why is investing in international basic education beneficial to both the United States and developing countries? Investing in international education is said to be in the best interests of U.S. citizens. Improving the education systems in developing countries helps “advance U.S. foreign policy goals” and “promote U.S. and international security” while “[accelerating]economic growth at home and abroad.”
Also, investing in education can improve a country’s journey to self-reliance by creating a more stable, prosperous and democratic society with an educated and skilled workforce. The latest fiscal strategic plan from the U.S. Department of State and USAID says that economic growth, particularly in developing and transitional economies, can “bolster economic opportunities and build future markets for U.S. exports” in developing countries.
Other Benefits of Investing in International Basic Education
By investing in international basic education, USAID provides “a pathway out of poverty” by offering communities a chance to learn necessary skills to not only seek employment but gain it. Doing this can reduce absolute poverty in developing countries by 30%, according to a 2020 USAID education brochure.
Also, investing in education could improve the situations of those living in poverty by educating them on how to better care for themselves and their families through positive health and well-being decisions. For example, the simple act of improving educational opportunities for women of childbearing age directly correlates to more than 50% “of the reduction in child mortality worldwide since 1970.”
Economic growth is an added benefit of investing in education, allowing a country to add 18% to its gross domestic product by raising “the average level of education” by only a single year. Investing in education contributes to establishing peace and security by nurturing the mindsets and skills essential to preventing “crime, violence and extremism.”
By investing in international basic education in the developing world, access to nutritious food can strengthen because agricultural “education increases productivity and output,” alleviating food insecurity. Furthermore, investing in the education of girls and women is essential for reducing gender inequality. In fact, education is a proven method for raising a woman’s earning potential, allowing them to provide for their families. A woman’s income increases by 10-20% with every additional year of schooling.
The Success of the USAID Education Policy
In 2020, USAID’s education initiatives enabled learning access to “more than 24 million children” in more than 50 nations globally. Furthermore, USAID provided education training to more than 300,000 educational staff in schools across the globe. USAID also provided almost 600 higher education establishments “with capacity development support” and gave assistance to more than 93,000 schools. USAID also invests directly in local educational institutions, strengthening a country’s capacity to generate and use education data to drive transparency, accountability and informed decision-making.
However, despite these successes, millions of young people still do not have adequate access to basic education, training and employment opportunities. In some developing countries, like Niger and South Sudan, the literacy rate stands at less than 50%. This indicates that ongoing efforts to improve global education are crucial.
The U.S. agency tasked with addressing international basic education helps to combat global poverty by focusing on the root cause: a lack of education. Investing in international education not only improves the lives of those living in developing countries but also advances U.S. foreign policy goals by promoting global security and improving economic growth.