U.S. Government Strategy

USAID invests in education because it is a fundamental driver of development, it promotes U.S. and international security and helps accelerate economic growth at home and abroad.

Our Focus

USAID invests in education because it is a fundamental driver of development, it promotes U.S. and international security and helps accelerate economic growth at home and abroad. Efforts to expand access to quality education and measurably improve learning outcomes and employment are strategic and effective investments that align with the pillars and objectives of existing strategies including the National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Department of State and USAID Joint Strategic Plan for FY 2018-2022. Education benefits sustainable investments across all sectors. To help place partner countries on a path to self-reliance, they need skilled populations capable of leading and managing their own development.

U.S. Government COVID-19 International Basic Education Response

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The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to the global education sector, disrupting the education of 1.6 billion learners in 190 countries. The USG was uniquely positioned to respond to the pandemic quickly and efficiently. USG responses in the education sector mitigated the worst. Our responses are also ensuring a safe return to learning--particularly for the most marginalized--and building more resilient and equitable education systems. These efforts will support societies with the capacity to better manage future shocks and protect development gains. Read more in this resource examining the successful elements of educational responses during the pandemic.

The READ Act

Introduced in the 115th Congress by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act became law on September 8, 2017. The bill aims to provide access to education for some 263 million children and adolescents who are currently not in school, or who do not have access to education because of conflict or political instability.

The READ Act strengthens oversight and coordination of U.S. Government resources and activities promoting international basic education. As required by the READ Act, USAID developed a new, comprehensive U.S. Strategy for International Basic Education in consultation with nine other U.S. Government agencies and in close consultation with external stakeholders. The objectives of the Strategy are to: 

  1. Improve learning outcomes; and
  2. Expand access to quality basic education for all, particularly marginalized and vulnerable populations.

USG’s Collective Progress 

The U.S. Government Departments and Agencies involved in the Strategy have reported the following results from April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020. These results highlight many of the ways in which the U.S. Government’s investments in international basic education are fulfilling the goals articulated in the READ Act, but do not reflect all USG investments in the sector.

  • More than 3.1 million children in 21 countries with nutrition to foster their physical, cognitive, linguistic, and social-emotional development so they can learn.
  • Provided more than 34.7 million primary and secondary students in 53 countries with opportunities to learn literacy, numeracy, and other basic skills, in formal and non-formal settings, including in local languages.
  • Provided more than 892,000 individuals with tertiary, vocational, and other workforce training.
  • Reached more than 14.5 million children and youth in 23 countries affected by crisis and conflict.
  • Provided education interventions to at least 12 million girls and women in formal and non-formal settings.
  • Provided education or vocational services to more than 11,300 children engaged in, or at high risk of, child labor.

USG Support to Basic Education Map

Screenshot of USG Program map

In this interactive map you can find information about each Agency and Department’s basic education program by country, filter by education level, and find examples of the type of coordination that is currently happening across the U.S. Government.

Key Documents

U.S. Government Strategy for International Basic Education 
U.S. Government COVID-19 International Basic Education Response
FY19 U.S. Government Strategy Report to Congress 
USAID Education Policy 2018

SG Agencies

Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. The Department’s international strategy has three objectives: 1) Increase Global and Cultural Competencies of All U.S. Students, 2) Learn from and with Other Countries to Strengthen U.S. Education, and 3) Engage in Active Education Diplomacy to Advance U.S. International Priorities. The international strategy affirms the Department’s commitment to preparing today’s youth, and our country more broadly, for a globalized world, and to engaging with the international community to improve education.

Department of Labor

For over two decades, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DoL) Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT) has been a leader in the fight to eradicate child labor, forced labor and human trafficking around the world.  In FY 2019, the DoL awarded more than $38 million in new grants to combat child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking in eight countries.  Projects funded by DOL raise awareness of the importance of education for all children and mobilize a wide array of actors to expand education and training opportunities. DoL works to improve formal and non-formal education systems that encourage working children and those at risk of working to attend school and strengthen national institutions and policies to support education and combat child labor in order to promote long-term sustainability of these efforts. 

Department of State

The U.S. Department of State (DoS) advances the interests of the American people, their safety and economic prosperity, by leading America’s foreign policy through diplomacy, advocacy, and assistance. DoS focuses its investments where we can have the most impact. In order to achieve its education goals globally, DoS partners with other nations, multilateral agencies, NGOs, and the private sector. These partnerships are based on shared goals and shared interests to establish the conditions for a more secure and prosperous world. For example, In FY 2019, the Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration provided nearly $84.4 million for educational programs for conflict-affected and refugee children. Under the State Department, many bureaus and offices help to contribute to the goals of the U.S. Government Strategy on International Basic Education including, the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, the Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO), the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), and the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator

Department of Treasury

The Department of Treasury leads engagement in the multilateral development banks (MDBs), which include the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the World Bank. Treasury promotes U.S. policy priorities on education in developing countries through the U.S. representatives on the Executive Boards of the MDBs. The MDBs are particularly valuable to achieving the following objectives of the Strategy: improving in-country coordination among donors; amplifying the impact of U.S. financial resources; assisting youth in crisis and conflict-affected situations; and strengthening evidence-driven decision making in education programs.

Millennium Challenge Corporation

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an independent U.S. Government agency that partners with countries to reduce poverty through economic growth. MCC basic education programs span across the life of an individual from childhood (i.e. counter-stunting programs, construction of education facilities) to adulthood (i.e. workforce development programs, university programs). Programs work to expand access to education through provision of education infrastructure, including schools and TVET centers, labs and equipment, and teacher training centers. MCC investments also aim to improve the employability of project participants and enhance the productivity of the private sector by improving access to, quality of and labor market relevance of basic and technical skills. As of December 2018, MCC has invested $948 million in education and training programs, constructed or rehabilitated 837 educational facilities and trained 234,340 learners.

Peace Corps

Peace Corps’ strategy for education exemplifies its unique approach to development—by working across cultures in underserved communities and with people to develop the capacity to improve their own lives.  Peace Corps Volunteers in all three project areas are committed to helping improve measurable learning outcomes through (1) increased capacity of counterpart teachers; (2) higher student achievement; and, (3) greater community involvement in student learning.  In FY 2019, 3,074 Volunteers strengthened the capacity of 16,561 teachers, and taught 333,720 students.  In FY 2019, the Peace Corps invested $111,854,237 in 51 countries around the world to support education in childhood literacy, math and science, and English as a Foreign Language.

USAID

USAID’s education programming is guided by its Education Policy published in 2018.  In FY 2019, USAID invested more than $800 million in basic education programs aligned with the Strategy.  Through these programs, USAID reached more than 32 million children and youth, particularly the most marginalized and vulnerable, including girls, those in rural areas, individuals with disabilities, young people from poor households, and those in crisis and conflict environments.  While addressing the barriers that prevent equity and inclusion for all, USAID’s partners increased access to high-quality education that is safe, contextually relevant, and promotes social well-being; enabled children and youth to gain literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional skills that are foundational to future learning and success; and provided young people with the skills they need to lead productive lives, gain employment, and contribute positively to society.  USAID and its partners work to bring education opportunities to the most marginalized and vulnerable populations. 

USDA

USDA’s McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program (McGovern-Dole) supports international basic education providing school meals to pre-school and primary-school-age children, and funding teacher training, school construction and rehabilitation, capacity-building, and related support, to help boost the school enrollment and academic performance of pre-school and primary students.  In Fiscal Year 2019, 46 of USDA’s McGovern-Dole school-feeding operations were active in 30 countries, and benefitted approximately three million school-age children. The McGovern-Dole program allocated $68 million in FY 2019 to support these efforts (Foreign Aid Explorer).