Chapter 5. Terrorist Safe Havens (7120 Report) -- 5.8 Basic Education in Muslim Countries

Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
April 30, 2009

The United States continued to support an increased focus on education in predominantly Muslim countries and those with significant Muslim populations. The U.S. government approach stressed mobilizing public and private resources as partners to improve the access, quality, and relevance of education, with a specific emphasis on youth and on developing civic-mindedness in young people. In many Muslim-majority countries, such as Afghanistan and Yemen, the challenge was to increase country capacity to provide universal access to primary education and literacy. Countries faced increasing enrollments and low education quality in the classroom while struggling with limited budgets.

In the Middle East, USAID and the Department of State's Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) continued responding to these needs by working to improve policy, learning outcomes, teacher training, education finance/governance, and community participation. These efforts complement investments of partner countries and other donors. MEPI funding for projects in basic education totaled approximately 53.2 million (FY-2002-08).

USAID/Asia and Middle East Bureaus’ total education assistance for the region was approximately $463.7 million, of which $451.4 million was targeted in predominantly Muslim countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines (Mindanao), West Bank/Gaza, and Yemen. Out of the $467.1 million total, approximately $385 million went towards basic education programs.

In 2008, USAID/Africa Bureau's total education assistance for the region was approximately $76 million in basic education (including the Africa Education Initiative); approximately $30 million benefit Muslim populations in Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda.

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 "Investing in People" objective, education is a major element with basic education as an important sub-element. This strategy is applied to programs worldwide.

Basic Education: USAID has an Agency-wide Basic Education Strategy (2005) that targeted underserved populations and promoted access to quality universal basic education. The goal was to help learners gain the general skills and relevant knowledge needed to function effectively in life. Basic education programs focused on three areas:

  • Increasing Access: Targeting groups that have been marginalized in the education system such as minority, rural, out-of-school youth, girls, and young adults; and those who have been impacted by conflict or disaster, thus helping ensure equitable access to education.
  • Improving Quality: Improving the quality of education is pivotal for ensuring attendance and learning outcomes of basic education. Attention was focused on curriculum reform and measuring learning outcomes.
  • Improving Relevance: Education programs that develop human capacities and livelihood skills, and aimed to link learning with skill development and employment opportunities, particularly in areas with high youth unemployment.

In designing and implementing basic education programs throughout the world, USAID worked 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 U.S. government continued to be an active member of several international bodies and activities to achieve universal primary education, including the International Working Group on Education, which originally proposed the "Education for All" initiative begun in the late 1980s.

Coordination of the International Effort. USAID provided technical guidance to the EFA effort through the UNESCO-aligned International Institute for Educational Planning. The U.S. Director of Foreign Assistance represented the U.S. at the annual High Level Group meeting for "Education for All," and the USAID Office of Education participated in the annual EFA Working Group meeting.

In engaging the G8 and governments for Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) initiatives, USAID collaborated closely with the State Department and other U.S. government agencies, especially on literacy. At the Sea Island Summit, the G8 launched the Broader Middle East and North Africa (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 have met annually since 2005; they met in Oman in November 2008.

In 2008, USAID contributed $2.5 million to the UNESCO Literacy Trust Fund, supported literacy assessments in the BMENA region, and developed the BMENA ‘Literacy Hub' database of global best practices in promoting literacy. The BMENA ‘Literacy Hub' was transferred to the Afghanistan Ministry of Education in October 2008.

Leveraging Other Donors. USAID coordinated closely with multilateral (e.g. World Bank and the Asian Development Bank) and other bilateral donors in each country. In Indonesia, for example, the Australian bilateral aid agency, AusAID, used a USAID pilot education program 's methodology for supporting local government management of education and for promoting active learning in classrooms. 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 combined approaches in working with local and national officials. This coordinated approach has extended donor program coverage in Indonesia in the education sector.

In Tajikistan, USAID-developed training modules on interactive learning and teaching methods and teacher trainers support the Government of Tajikistan's implementation of the "Education for All" Fast Track Initiative, leveraging funds of approximately $1.6 million. This basic education project also complemented World Bank and Asia Development Bank (ADB) projects in the area of education finance, curriculum revision, teacher training, and strengthening capacity of teacher training institutes. In Kyrgyzstan, USAID-supported independent testing organization won a World Bank tender to implement the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA); USAID-developed teacher standards were used in revision of the teacher incentive system. The basic education project collaborated with the ADB project by providing training for textbook authors.

Leveraging Contributions from the Private Sector and Civil Society Organizations. The U.S. government used development assistance to leverage other resources for education by developing alliances or partnerships with the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). USAID's Global Development Alliances (GDAs), also known as public-private partnerships, were tailored to country-specific needs and the private sector partners' interests. In 2008, the USG succeeded in getting public-private partnership support to education on the agenda for the annual World Economic Forum meeting. USAID received on average a greater than a two-to-one match for education alliances in the Asia and Middle East region, of which the total life of project value is $271 million. Below are several examples of ongoing and new country-specific partnerships in the region:

In Western and Central Mindanao, and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines, there are currently six GDA partnerships to increase educational opportunities for children by ensuring access to quality education; to improve the capacity of teachers, and raise math, science and English skills among elementary school beneficiaries; to increase employment opportunities and engage young leaders; and, to provide business and skills training for out-of-school youth; and, to provide opportunity for school drop-outs and out-of-school youths to rejoin formal schooling through an accreditation and equivalency mechanism.

In Indonesia, public private partnerships were used to expand the reach of USAID activities and to respond in natural disaster situations. A partnership with British Petroleum was helping improve education quality in Papua, one of the most underserved and isolated areas of Indonesia. An alliance with ConocoPhillips is helping restore education services in communities affected by the May 2006 earthquake that struck Yogyakarta and Central Java, and an alliance with Intel was helping teachers effectively use technology in classrooms. A partnership with Chevron has expanded vocational and technical education opportunities for youth in Aceh.


In India, USAID has supported Quality Education and Skills Training (Quest), in an alliance with leading non-government organizations, and global corporations to promote the effective use of technologies to improve basic education and skills training. Through various pilot initiatives and advocacy efforts, the alliance has established its credibility in the field of education technology.


In Morocco and Jordan, a USAID information technology partnership with CISCO, UNIFEM, and the Governments of Morocco and Jordan, has introduced CISCO Certified Network Associate and job-readiness training to eleven Moroccan institutions (900 students, 49 percent women) and just over 1,700 students in Jordan. Seven CISCO Networking Academies were established in Jordan. In both countries, there was a focus on job skills and placement for women. Fifty percent of the first student cohort who completed the program found jobs within six months after graduation.

USAID's Office of Middle East Affairs implemented a GDA that engaged and supported emerging youth leaders in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank, Gaza, and Yemen. Partnering with the Ford Foundation and Save the Children International, it has created a youth development tool kit. It linked emerging young leaders to a network of youth development workers and institutions that assist young people with building leadership capacity and exercising positive, moderate leadership behaviors within a community development context.

In cooperation with the Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, 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-sponsored Jordan Education Initiative.

USG Coordination to Reduce Duplication and Waste. The Department of State and USAID coordinated their Foreign Assistance Framework, which included education, and a joint Operational Plan process, to reduce duplication of effort and/or waste.

To minimize any potential duplication of efforts and investments, USAID collaborated with the Department of State/Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) to promote education within the Near East region, with a focus on civic education. The MEPI education pillar supported education systems that enabled 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.

Training and Exchange Programs. Bridging both basic and higher education, USAID and the State Department Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) coordinated in the area of providing training and exchanges for students from Muslim-majority countries to the United States. In Egypt, ECA has also financed awards for teachers/administrators to enhance the Ministry’s technical college instructor capacity.

Scholarship Programs. MEPI has launched two pilot scholarship programs, the basic-education based “MEPI Scholarship Program,” and the higher-education based “Tomorrow’s Leaders” program. The MEPI Scholarship Program provides disadvantaged youth with the opportunity of receiving a democratic based education (grades 7–12) at American-sponsored schools abroad. The program was launched with the September 2007 school year and has been enthusiastically received by teachers, parents, students, and the communities in Oman, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. The “Tomorrow’s Leaders” scholarship recipients will be selected from among the underserved in the Middle East and North Africa, and the scholarship will provide a four-year academic and internship/study-abroad opportunity with specialized curricula through which to develop their civic engagement, entrepreneurial, and leadership skills. The first cohort of “Tomorrow’s Leaders” began the program in September 2008.

For younger students, there are some programs, such as the English Microscholarship Access Program, which provides English classes for deserving high school students from non-elite sectors. The program delivers language instruction in a civic education context, and helps students compete for future job and educational opportunities. U.S. embassies selected schools in 45 countries to enroll approximately 10,000 students in the program. In addition to teaching English, the program provides an American classroom experience using U.S. materials and emphasizes active learning.

The State Department's Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES) and Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX) bring high school students from Muslim countries to live with American host families and attend American public high schools for an academic year. The FLEX students also receive special training in civic education and work as volunteers.
Student Leaders/Study of the United States Institutes provide young people with intensive training in civic engagement and leadership skills in both U.S. and regionally-based settings.

The State Department's International Leaders in Education Program brings secondary school teachers of English, social studies, math, and science from South and Southeast Asia, the Near East, and North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Western Hemisphere to U.S. universities for a semester to develop their teaching skills, to increase their subject-matter expertise, and to pursue coursework and practical teaching experiences in U.S. high schools. U.S. teachers may then apply to participate in a reciprocal exchange program in several of the participating countries.

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 participate in a professional teacher development program in the United States. The six-week program, based at a U.S. university’s school of education, also includes a three-week internship at a secondary school where participants actively engage with American teachers and students. 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.

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. There are currently 13 scholars now enrolled in Masters degree programs in the United States.

USAID’s Office of Middle East Partnerships (OMEP) program also supports a Peace Scholars program. This program supports 30 young people annually from the Middle East and North Africa who have demonstrated a commitment to their communities with undergraduate level scholarships to study for one year in the United States. These programs complement ongoing efforts carried out by State/ECA and MEPI.

Funds Needed to Achieve Universal Basic Education
The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates that $5.6 billion are needed per year to achieve "Education for All" by 2015. Globally UNESCO estimates that 72 million children are enrolled in school, but many of those in school are not there regularly, and many more do not receive a quality education. For the countries in the Muslim world, this figure is estimated to be around 40 million. Estimating that it costs roughly $50 per year per child to complete six years of schooling, it would cost $2.2 billion per year in Muslim countries as a whole to achieve education for all children to that level.

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 future. The United States 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. For example, funding for the International Expanding Education Initiative supports countries which have national education plans approved by the Fast Track Initiative. 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 pilots programs' localities. Model programs also potentially have an impact outside of targeted interventions.

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, and scholarships and exchanges. A few programs are highlighted below.

USAID/Asia and Middle East Bureaus’ Education and Employment Alliance promotes private sector participation in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines to enhance skills and improve education and employment opportunities among over one million underserved youth. In addition to local profit and non-profit partners, corporate partners include Chevron/Unocal, GE, Ink Media, Lucent, Microsoft, Nike, and Oracle.

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 in-person meetings.

MEPI is partnering with the Education for Employment Foundation (EFE) and with businesses, universities, and private organizations to create four highly scalable and replicable youth education and employment programs that offer real employment to 80 percent of all graduates. The programs are as follows: in Egypt, both a “Mini MBA” accounting training and a textile management and workplace for success training program; in Morocco, sales force training; in Jordan, vocational scholarships and workplace for success training; and in Yemen, information technology training. EFE will also create an affiliate foundation in Yemen that will partner with business, universities, and civil society leaders that are dedicated to youth education and employment to develop employer-driven education and training linked to jobs. This initiative also supports broader education goals articulated under the Broader Middle East and North Africa initiative.

USAID/India’s Technology Tools for Teaching and Training (T4) employs educational technologies to educate poor and disadvantaged children studying in public schools in the states of Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Bihar and will soon operate in Delhi and Rajasthan. Combining technology tools with sound pedagogy and effective teacher training, USAID and its partners are developing high-quality, interactive radio, video, and computer programs that simplify the teaching of difficult concepts in various subjects, including language, math, science, and social studies. T4 currently reaches more than 22 million children. In addition, USAID/India’s Youth Skill Development Initiative provides education in basic life and employability skills to deprived out-of-school youth, effectively linking their education to the skills demanded by the new economy. The program provides training to these youth in market-oriented skills such as computer usage, spoken English, communication, and customer relations to make them more “employable.” Over 14,000 youth have been trained in the three Indian states of Delhi, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra; 76% of the trainees have received employment and many have opted for further studies. Designed as a public-private initiative, 50% of the program costs come from non-USAID sources.

USAID/Central Asian Republics also supports Junior Achievement (JA) programs which provide training for secondary school students in basic entrepreneurship skills. In 2008, JA reached more than 15,000 students in Kazakhstan and more than 3,500 students in Turkmenistan. JA organized student fairs across the region for thousands of Junior Achievement program participants to showcase their “school companies” which provided an opportunity for students to gain practical experience in entrepreneurship by organizing and operating a ‘model’ business enterprise. Students learned to produce and sell products and services to their communities and the fair provided an additional opportunity to market student products to organizations from other regions that attend the fair. USAID continued working with the private sector to strengthen their support of JA to ensure sustainability of the programs.

USAID/Cambodia supports an in-school effort aimed at making education more relevant to Cambodia’s needs, particularly for Cham and rural areas; and also supported the development of a new national curriculum which reinforces math, science, and language skills, and includes a life skills component focused on agriculture, pre-vocational skills, and health education in primary schools.

The USAID Internet Access Training Program (IATP), administered by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) since 1995, provides free internet access and training in 11 countries throughout Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Western Eurasia. From major cities to small communities, IATP encourages information sharing, network building, and collaboration among U.S. government exchange alumni and other targeted audiences. IATP staff train alumni and other targeted audiences in the effective use of the Internet and sponsor the development of local language web sites. The centers also conduct training in basic civics, entrepreneurship, and English.

USAID and the Intel Corporation signed Memorandum of Understanding in December 2006 to broaden access and usage of information and communications technologies (ICT) in developing communities worldwide. This alliance envisions collaboration and partnership in enabling "last mile" internet connectivity and locally relevant applications; supporting ICT usage and deployment by small and medium-sized enterprises to enhance economic development; and increasing the use of ICTs to support education and health. Intel’s prior experience in the education sector includes software development and teacher training programs for K-12.

Countries Eligible for Assistance. USAID has education programs in Muslim-majority countries and countries with large Muslim populations that potentially overlap those which might be targeted by the President under an 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.

The Asia and Middle East regions contain several Muslim-majority countries with significant education needs. Basic education program highlights include, in alphabetical order by country:


Afghanistan. Because Afghans lost years of formal schooling under the Taliban, many students are not at their appropriate grade level. USAID created an accelerated learning program that compresses two years of study into a single year through innovative teaching techniques. This program trained an estimated 10,500 teachers in teaching methodologies for accelerated learning and enrolled nearly 170,000 students, over half of them girls. In addition, the Community Schools Program supports 50,000 students annually, and has trained over 65,000 teachers across all provinces through daily radio broadcasts. Since 2002, over 60 million textbooks were printed and distributed nationwide in Dari and Pashto for grades one through 12, in part in collaboration with the Danish International Development Agency. To strengthen the Ministries of Education and Higher Education, USAID provides advisors to help develop and implement education policy; supports the International School of Kabul, an English language high school with an enrollment of approximately 260 students from more than 20 countries, the majority of whom are Afghans; and works with 16 Afghan universities to upgrade teacher training. USAID supports the American University of Afghanistan, and has refurbished the Women’s Dormitory at Kabul University to house over 1,000 women, mainly from rural areas.


In Bangladesh, USAID’s Early Learning for School Success Program (SUCCEED), has become the model program for support of early learning activities in the country. SUCCEED is carried out in 1,800 preschools in 600 communities, which prepares children ages five to 13, including children with disabilities, to achieve greater success in school. The program provides extra-curricular educational activities to increase learning skills, strengthen community involvement in school management, and model successful teaching methodologies to primary school teachers. SUCCEED has facilitated 1,800 small peer support groups that discuss local health, environment and social issues, and work together to initiate positive changes in these areas. The program has established an innovative after-school program using educational toys and games that stimulate learning for more than 53,274 primary school children. This program helps children to utilize their free time to improve their critical thinking, reading, and social skills. The SUCCEED program has also developed a Reading Buddy and Mentoring program, which couples struggling students with their progressing peers. USAID-sponsored preschools encourage the enrollment of children with mild disabilities, which currently comprise approximately five percent of the total enrollment.


USAID also supports the extremely successfully television program, Sisimpur (Sesame Street), which is the most widely viewed children’s television show in Bangladesh. It is estimated to reach 7.5 million young children weekly, nearly half of all three to six year olds. The television episodes aim to improve skills such as literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking, as well as hygiene practices such as hand washing and dental hygiene. The TV program also portrays positive socio-emotional and cultural knowledge, values, and skills; appreciation of diversity; illustrates the capacity of children with disabilities; depicts successful women across professions; and demonstrates self-respect and respect for others. Combined, the two programs have helped to combat traditionally low achievement and high dropout rates in the lower primary grades.


In Central Asia, USAID supports a regional basic education project in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, the Quality Learning Project (QLP). Awarded in October 2007, QLP is a five-year $12 million dollar project with a focus on expanding access to quality basic education. QLP activities continued to build on the achievements and lessons learned on the previous USAID-funded basic education project, including support to the governments of the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan in implementing their national education strategies and Education for All Fast Track Initiative grants. QLP activities will result in: (1) improved quality of teacher training in student-centered methodologies; (2) introduction and application of modern skill-based student assessment methodologies; (3) greater involvement of teachers in curriculum development; and (4) use of transparent and efficient school finance and management systems.

  • Kyrgyz Republic. The Quality Learning Project (QLP) has encountered unanticipated delays in signing the MOU with the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) that led to delays in project implementation. The MOU was signed in November and stipulates support for implementation of the Kyrgyz National education strategies and the Fast Track Initiative Catalytic Grant. Despite the delays, the project has established cooperation with the Kyrgyz Academy of Education and its Center for Teacher Training and Retraining – the two institutions critical for achieving improved teacher training. In order to ensure sustainability of in-service teacher training activities within the legislative framework, QLP developed recommendations to the draft law on general secondary education and teacher training for the KR Parliament Committee on Education, Science, Information, and Culture, and participated in elaboration of the Education Development Strategy for 2010-2020 for the MOES. In October 2008, USAID signed the Loan Portfolio Guarantee Agreements for tuition financing with two Kyrgyz financial institutions to increase access to higher and vocational education. This initiative aims to create a replicable, private sector tuition financing model that would provide students with more choice as to which education institutions they could attend. Over the next seven years USAID will guarantee up to $1.5 million in student loans and up to 50% of losses. USG continues to provide support to the American University–Central Asia through a joint USAID/State Department grant that supports activities toward achieving accreditation from a U.S. accrediting body.
  • Tajikistan. To address improvement of teacher training, the Quality Learning Project (QLP), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE), established a Teacher Training Working Group and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Republican Teacher Training Institute (RTTI) to collaborate on training of module developers and revisions of training modules under the FTI grant. Under the Formative Student Assessment component, the project trained 25 MOE and RTTI staff and eight local module developers in formative assessment approaches. As a result of the training, key elements of formative assessment were incorporated into the revised training modules developed as part of FTI. The QLP team closely collaborates with the newly-established Education Finance Working Group and implementation of the new education finance policy.

Turkmenistan. The overall strategy for project implementation in Turkmenistan is to work under the umbrella of a formal agreement with the Ministry of Education (MOE). While awaiting the signing of the memorandum of understanding, the Quality Learning Project organized a three-day seminar for MOE staff to familiarize them with the proposed activities of the project.

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. USAID assistance strengthens school governance and management through leadership training for school principals; the development of nationwide management information systems; and, the training of school Boards of Trustees. The current education strategy runs through September 2009. To date, USAID has also provided 25 million books for libraries and classrooms in all 39,000 public primary, preparatory, and secondary schools in Egypt. Books range from non-fiction to reference materials to novels. Libraries are 80% in Arabic and 20% in English language. Over 39,000 students now have access to computer technology. USAID has built 70 new girls schools serving almost 40,000 students. Nearly 100,000 girls’ scholarships have been provided to date. USAID supported the development of the Egyptian Sesame Street, which reaches over 85 percent of all children under age eight, helping them acquire early literacy and numeracy skills.

The U.S. Indonesia Education Initiative program 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. Approximately 24,000 educators have been trained to improve the quality of teaching and learning and over 1,050,000 students are reaping the benefits. 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 is supporting the creation of an Indonesian Sesame Street, Jalan Sesame, which debuted in late 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.

In July 2003, the Government of Jordan launched the Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy (ERfKE) initiative, a five-year, $380 million program developed with USAID assistance. The goal of this initiative, one of the most ambitious education reform programs in the Arab region, l 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 multi-lateral organizations, will provide $80 million in support of reform efforts through ERfKE. USAID's efforts under this initiative (1) assist the Government of Jordan's early child care initiative, with the creation of 100 public kindergartens, field-test curriculum, and the development of an accreditation system; (2) develop school-to-work programs and an IT curriculum stream for high school students; (3) connect 100 ‘Discovery' schools to broadband and test e-learning modules for all subject; (4) expand youth and life skills programs to secondary schools in new underserved areas in Jordan; and (5) 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. In 2006, the sector reform activities were expanded into the Southern governorates of Aqaba, Ma’an and Tafileh to work with all the public schools.

In Lebanon, in response to the 2006 conflict, USAID worked to repair and upgrade schools throughout the country. The work was finished in time for the start of the 2007 school year and continued in 2008. Other program components included providing equipment for laboratories, supplies and books, awareness programs on health, nutrition and social awareness for a better learning environment; and extracurricular activities to enhance students’ skills and learning experiences. The program benefits over 200 public primary, intermediary, and secondary schools and over 80,000 students. Over the past two years, USAID provided over 560 students with scholarship assistance at the American Community School and the International College (secondary schools); and also provided about 3,100 students with scholarship assistance at the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University.

In Morocco, “Improved Education and Training for Employment” aims to assist Morocco’s basic education and vocational training systems in preparing young graduates to meet Morocco’s entry-level workforce needs. While pursuing partnerships to institutionalize programs for longer-term impact, USAID works within existing structures, emphasizing the relevance of content and the ability of instructors to deliver this content effectively, in four of Morocco’s 16 regions, in collaboration with the Moroccan government. Over 200,000 children (45% girls) and 1,600 teachers (23% women) from some 337 participating schools are benefiting from USAID’s Advancing Learning and Employability for a Better Future (ALEF) program, which assists the Government of Morocco in improving the quality and relevance of basic education. Teachers and children demonstrated tremendous creativity and innovativeness in information technology, entrepreneurship, and other initiatives.

Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) funds for the development of learner-friendly literacy materials based on the Family Code have benefited over 9,600 rural women. Grants have been awarded to 30 non-governmental organizations who implement literacy programs not only in classical Arabic but in the rural women’s mother tongue (Moroccan dialect and Amazigh), a breakthrough for Morocco. MEPI funds supported 215 rural girls with scholarships to attend middle school while living in supervised boarding facilities.

In Pakistan, USAID-funded programs benefit more than 600,000 children and 60,000 teachers. Since 2006, 3,770 teachers and supervisors have been trained in interactive teaching and learning skills. Nearly 2,400 classrooms of 327 primary, middle, and high schools; and model colleges have been equipped with new learning materials. More than 4,500 parents have learned basic literacy and math skills. Links to Learning (ED-LINKS), with the objective of improving the quality and sustainability of teacher education and student performance, is located in Sindh, Balochistan, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), and the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). The ED-LINKS program has three basic components: 1) Teacher Education and Professional Development; 2) Student Learning and Achievement; and 3) Governance of Teaching and Learning. The program will contribute to better quality education in approximately 22 districts and 6,000 middle and high schools, affecting 600,000 students and 60,000 teachers.

Focusing on early childhood and primary education, the Interactive Teaching and Learning Program brings child-centered teaching into public and private classrooms. As a result, 399 schools have begun to move away from rote learning and repetitive memorization toward interactive learning that emphasizes critical-thinking skills. The program also encourages family members to participate in the schools.

USAID is enhancing professional development and teacher education across Pakistan by assisting the Ministry of Education in the formulation of a strategic framework for teacher certification and accreditation. The Strengthening Teacher Education in Pakistan (STEP) initiative transforms teacher education through the development of national standards for teacher certification and accreditation and improves networking among government teacher training institutions. Under the FATA School Rehabilitation and Construction Program, USAID has supported the rehabilitation and furnishing of 58 public schools and two Government Colleges of Elementary Teachers (GCETs) in the FATA. The schools have been completed and handed over to FATA authorities.

In the Philippines, in Mindanao province, USAID is training teachers and providing computers, textbooks, and other materials to schools. To reduce instability in conflict-prone areas in Mindanao, tens of thousands of out-of-school youth are being prepared to return to the formal education system, and thousands of others have been provided with employable skills. A matching grants program for school improvements encourages greater participation by parents and communities in the education of their children. The U.S. government is partnering with local private sector firms to increase the quality of basic education and provide training to educators to improve the teaching of English, science, and math. USAID’s education program is providing more than two million textbooks and other learning materials to elementary school students and out-of-school youth through a partnership with the U.S. military, which delivers the donated materials to remote communities. Computer and internet education has been introduced into schools in Mindanao.

USAID/West Bank and Gaza improved the quality of and increased access to primary and secondary education through the construction and rehabilitation of schools and kindergartens. To date, 773 classrooms have been built or rehabilitated, generating more than 150,780 person-days of short-term employment for unemployed Palestinians. The American Scholarship Fund Program awards approximately 7,500 disadvantaged students with scholarships to pay tuition fees at private schools per year. The assistance will also make it possible for private schools to maintain basic educational services. Since September 2007, USAID has supported a Model Schools Network program and a Vocational Training and Education Development Program. The Model School program develops innovative concepts and pedagogical approaches in cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education through a network of 20 private schools. The Vocational Training program aims to increase the relevance of non-governmental technical and vocational education and training to meet labor market needs. The Palestinian Faculty Development Program increases the capacity of the higher education sector. Finally, the Ruwwad “Youth Empowerment” program provides Palestinian youth with opportunities to gain leadership skills and serve their communities through youth-led initiatives.

To assist the government of Yemen in reforming its education system, USAID has developed programs to improve the teaching of reading, writing, and mathematics, and offers adult literacy and life-skills classes. In-service training for teachers and Parent Councils was conducted and schools were renovated and expanded. The government’s decentralization goals in the education sector were supported with officials at the governorate and district levels training in data collection, data management and using data for informed decision making. A catalogue of Ministry of Education approved teaching aids has been developed to assist headmasters and teachers in acquiring educational aids through ministry channels as well as help other donors intending to support schools in Yemen. A Renovation Risk Management System was developed for 77 school renovations and all were assessed, and a mobile repair team supports self-help efforts to maintain facilities, furniture, and equipment. To date, 2,577 teachers and school administrators were trained in student-centered and active learning techniques. The impact of the teacher training at 23 schools indicates that 64% of third graders taught by USAID-trained teachers performed math problems at their grade level or above, and 74.6 % read and wrote Arabic at their grade level or above.

The Asia Near East region also contains countries with significant Muslim populations though not in the majority, such as India (second largest Muslim population in the world). USAID/India's madrassa intervention began as a pilot project with eleven madrassas in Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh in 2004. The goal of the pilot was to demonstrate an effective and scalable model for introducing formal curriculum into these religious schools. The program worked with Muslim community leaders and madrassa administrators to introduce formal curricula, enroll and retain out-of-school children, improve the quality of education, and prepare madrassas to meet government standards. The pilot program has now been extended to 586 madrassas covering 48,000 children. Resources such as honorarium, technical support and training to teachers; and textbooks and meals to students are leveraged from the government. A similar initiative is being launched in the state of West Bengal.

The sub-Saharan Africa region contains a number of important Muslim and Muslim majority countries, in which support to basic education activities and improved learning opportunities for in-school and out-of-school youth figure prominently. The Bureau for Africa's Office of Sustainable Development 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.

In support of President Bush's East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative (EACTI), programs were initiated in 2003 in East Africa that provided basic education opportunities in marginalized Muslim communities. The targeted countries include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.1 A summary of these programs include:

  • USAID/Ethiopia implemented various activities in Muslim-dominated areas particularly in Somali, Afar, and Oromia regions. The activities included support to pre-service and in-service teacher training to improve the quality of primary education; building the capacity of primary school principals to improve the management of schools; 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 men and women.
  • USAID/Kenya's basic education program, Education for Marginalized Children in Kenya, is concentrated in the North Eastern and Coast Provinces. Both Provinces have predominantly Muslim populations and the lowest education statistics in the country. This activity began in 2004 with supplemental funding specifically targeted at Muslim communities and continued as a part of the mission’s portfolio. Over 125,000 children have been reached in the Coast Province, with over 250 Early Childhood Development Centers supported and more than 3,200 teachers trained in child-centered teaching methods. The School Infrastructure Program has successfully built 107 classrooms, three dining halls, eight dormitories, and supplied desks along with bunk-beds with mattresses. In 2007, Kenya instituted a program to strengthen the management of education and its resources at the local levels, thereby beginning to address the need for more effective and higher quality basic education. In 2008, USAID launched a Higher Education Scholarship Program in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and civil society. A full four-year scholarship for undergraduate study at public university in Kenya was offered. The geographic focus was on the predominantly Muslim North Eastern province that shares a border with Somalia.
  • USAID/Tanzania's program focused on strengthening primary school students’ performances in general, and secondary math and science over the next four years with an emphasis on basic education activities for under-served children (especially girls in Muslim and rural areas). The basic education initiative provided training and materials to teachers and students; thousands of students’ textbooks written in Kiswahili; and girls’ scholarships. U.S. resources over the next four years will enable two programs 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 worked with Muslim and pastoralist populations in geographic areas where there was little or no other donor support. Service delivery in Zanzibar was enhanced, in addition to two pilot districts (Lindi Urban and Mtwara Urban) on the southern Tanzanian mainland. Over 90,000 secondary, 49,000 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 focused on pre-primary and primary-level education. The radio instruction activity will continue to establish 100 informal learning centers in Tanzania mainland, 125 Play and Learn Clubs in Zanzibar, and pilot radio instruction in 60 formal primary-school classrooms in Zanzibar. By the end of 2008, the program had provided equitable access to quality education for 14,700 children in Kiswahili, English, mathematics, social studies, science, and life skills.

  • USAID/Uganda supported Madrassa Early Childhood Development (ECD), which targets poor communities and builds on existing non-formal and informal early child education at selected community mosques and madrassas. Through the Madrassa Resource Center activity, communities are supported to establish and manage their own pre-schools by using intensive community participation methods. The project seeks to provide access to high quality, value-based, culturally relevant and affordable early childhood education and development in order to increase the chances of children from underprivileged communities entering and succeeding in the formal education system. The project has mobilized 15 community schools to participate in the program; supported 13 community schools under post graduation continuous support to ensure the long-term sustainability of the pre-schools; supported over 1,200 children in new schools and other schools; trained approximately 300 Schools’ Management Committee members on how to manage their schools and 120 ECD teachers in ECD methodologies; and close to 2000 parents have been mobilized to send their children to the community schools. In addition, the Project hosted the first of its kind ECD Stakeholder Conference with the Islamic leadership and 100 participants to assist them to collectively and effectively manage the schools.

In support of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP):

  • USAID/Mali includes a focus on supporting moderate Islamic schools (medersas) as part of a broader strategy to improve access to quality basic education for all Malian boys and girls. Approximately 1,600 medersas will take part in USAID's "Road to Reading" program, which will use a combination of teacher training and materials development to improve the quality of French language instruction in Mali's public, community-owned, and medersa schools. A cornerstone of the "Road to Reading" program will be the development and broadcast of Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) programs for Grades 1-6. These IRI programs will build medersa teachers' and students' ability to make the transition from Arabic into French, thus expanding students' educational and employment opportunities. To gauge the quality of instruction and impact of USAID programming in medersas, the "Road to Reading" program will implement Early Grade Reading Assessments in Arabic and French. USAID/Mali's strategy will ensure that medersas benefit from the same programs intended for public and community-owned schools. In addition, to orient USAID's and USG interventions, a comprehensive study will be conducted that will lead to recommendations for how to best support medersas in Mali.
  • USAID/Senegal's program aimed at improving basic education in Koranic schools and benefits approximately 5,000 vulnerable children living and studying in these schools. The pilot activity, launched in late 2005, supported improvements in the living, health, nutrition, and learning conditions of children in Koranic schools. It accomplished 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 in how to effectively teach languages, math, life skills, and health education. Vocational training was offered in the areas of carpentry, sewing, masonry, and tannery. The leaders of these schools have begun to incorporating secular education in their curriculum and in promoting better nutrition and hygiene among their students.
  • The President's Africa Education Initiative (AEI) in Niger, Chad, and Mauritania complemented the TSCTP's efforts to counter terrorism. The AEI's Ambassador Girls' Scholarship Program has enabled more girls to attend schools, and engaged 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 Bureau for Africa's efforts to reach out to Muslim populations, including Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti.

USAID/Somalia recently increased its support for education programs that will contribute to peace building, stabilization, and counterterrorism. The USAID/Somalia education portfolio includes an innovative education program that uses radio to deliver high-quality, interactive instructional programs to marginalized children. The radio programs are broadcast throughout Somalia, including in Mogadishu, and have provided quality education to more than 200,000 school children. USAID/Somalia is also renovating 500 classrooms, improving water and sanitation facilities and strengthening communities to support local schools. A new higher education partnership between the University of Hargeisa and Eastern Mennonite University is establishing the first ever higher education program for conflict mitigation in Somalia. USAID/Somalia is also supporting a new youth education and training program that will provide 1,500 Somalia youth with viable employment opportunities.

USAID/Sudan continued to implement programs to enhance inter-religious peace-building through improving education access. Formal and non-formal programs focused on primary and girls' education, teacher training and institutional development, targeting out-of-school youth, women girls, returnees, and other vulnerable groups. The U.S. government expedited the provision of primary education and adult literacy through radio-based instruction, providing a high standard of learning for students and teachers. Conflict resolution, recovery, and prevention were integrated into the broadcasts to support the peace process.

Since 2003, USAID/Djibouti has supported Djibouti's education reform program to increase access to Basic Education through school rehabilitation, renovating/building water and sanitation facilities, the provision of textbooks, equipment and kits, community participation through the establishment and training of PTAs, the provision of scholarships to 1,000 girls and 338 boys, and non-formal education programs to increase girls' education. The program improved quality through teacher training, development of teachers and school principals' guides, provision of English Language learning materials, teaching and teacher training for secondary levels, and construction and equipment of pedagogic resources centers. The Ministry of Education’s strategic planning and decision making system is being strengthened through the development of a planning framework using selected norms as a basis for resource allocations, and the establishment and training of a national strategic planning team to enforce its policy for decentralized planning, improved data quality, management, and use. Finally, the program provides opportunities for out-of-school youth, especially girls, through job search training, upgrading youth vocational skills, and designing and implementing partnership mechanisms to provide employment opportunities for out-of-school youth. On this and other activities, USAID collaborates with the U.S. Embassy and the Combined Joint Task Force/Horn of Africa.

Key components of USAID/Nigeria in FY-2008 included strengthening teachers' instructional skills in English literacy and numeracy; fostering increased enrollment, attendance and retention of girls in primary school; increasing community and civil society involvement in schools' management; promoting child-focused classroom instructional methods; and improving local and state government skills in school-based data collection and use. Approximately one-fourth of participating schools are Islamic schools, integrating secular and religious instruction, while three-quarters are public schools. The current program integrates health and education activities, provides pre- and in-service teacher training, implements interactive radio instruction, and addresses school health and nutrition issues.


1 Eritrea had been part of the original list, but was eliminated during the USAID/Eritrea closeout.