Plenary 2: USAID’s New Education Strategy
August 22, 2011 — 11:30 a.m.
||David Barth, USAID Office of the Administrator
Suezan Lee, USAID Office of Education
Elizabeth Roen, USAID Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research
Mitch Kirby, USAID Bureau for the Middle East
Luba Fajfer, USAID Bureau for Europe and Eurasia
Pape Sow, USAID/Senegal
Members of the USAID Policy Task Team (PTT) were tasked to formulate a new agency-wide Education Strategy. The team was asked to address the challenges of increasing interest in global education, increasing USAID education budgets and a decentralized agency resulting in disjointed education outlays. The team’s seven core members—chosen for their recognized expertise—created a framework of goals to guide programs and policies in the education sector and criteria for tracking outcomes.
The new education strategy supports broader foreign policy goals based on the hypothesis that quality education is a necessary prerequisite for broad-based economic and social-development. The new strategy is designed to be more selective than previously in choice of programs. The focus will be on programs that can (1) have a measurable impact on a national scale, and (2) address three measurable, sector-wide goals: (a) improving reading skills for 100 million children in primary grades by 2015, (b) improving the ability of tertiary and workforce development programs to produce a workforce with relevant skills to support the country’s development, and (c) increasing equitable access to education in crisis and conflict environments for 15 million learners by 2015.
Program selectivity is intended to help USAID concentrate its resources on programs that carry a sound development hypothesis. New programs should either have pre-existing evidence of effectiveness or be built in metrics that can produce measurable results. Successful or unsuccessful results can then be shared as either effective practices or lessons learned. The emphasis should remain on sound analytics, on monitoring and evaluation research that can communicate the cost effectiveness of investments in education to Congress, taxpayers and other stakeholders. This implies focusing on a narrower set of programs that shows a measurable link between interventions and impact.
Key take away points A critical element for future program design will be the strength of the link between a program intervention and its impact. An evidence-based strategic approach is needed to provide measurable outcomes and ensure accountability among stakeholders. For this purpose, USAID has developed a new Education Strategy Results Framework that lists illustrative activities indicating progress on a series of intermediate results. The intermediate results are linked directly to one of the three goals outlined in the new 2011 Education Strategy. These measures are designed to help USAID cement its leadership role in the education sector, with a focus on cutting-edge programming and design.