International Education: Improving Lives and Communities
For millions of children in developing countries, education can be the key to improving their lives and communities. But access to education for children, and to training and technical assistance for teachers and governments, is a struggle for many.
Research and application demonstrate that programs can be successful in fostering literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking; developing teachers; and increasing educational opportunities for children and youth.
AIR expert Pooja Reddy Nakamura explores the question of when to introduce English to children in multilingual contexts.
AIR is partnering with local organizations to increase educational opportunities for girls in Liberia. The video She Looks Back features compelling first-hand accounts of what life is like for girls in post-conflict Liberia who are struggling to better their lives.
Kabeh Sulunteh, spokesperson for AIR's girls' education work in Liberia and wife of the Liberian ambassador to the U.S., talks about how education can empower girls and help them to improve their communities.
The 1989–2003 civil war disrupted all aspects of Liberian society, government services, and daily life, and the country’s education system was no exception. The GOAL project, implemented between 2010 and 2013, aimed to improve girls’ enrollment, attendance, and retention in six districts in Liberia.
Many Egyptian students are missing out on foundational literacy skills in the early grades while older students are being passed along into the upper grades without having acquired such skills. In this video, AIR literacy specialist Rebecca Stone talks about how AIR developed a remedial reading and writing program and literacy teacher-training program to address the need in Egypt.
The Education Support Program supports teacher professional development and community involvement in educational decisionmaking and quality improvement.
Millions of children across the developing world are educated in multilingual contexts where literacy is acquired in two or more languages at the same time. The challenges inherent in learning to read in a multilingual context are exacerbated in South and Southeast Asia by languages that are written in an alphasyllabic rather than alphabetic script. The FRAME program collects, analyzes, and disseminates data, which identifies skills that predict literacy success in children learning to read Kannada and English or Telugu and English simultaneously, in India.
Commentary: Slip of the Tongue - Language's Role in Learning and Literacy
Video: AIR Researcher Pooja Reddy Describes FRAME
On October 8, 2005, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the northern areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan. School was in session and over 18,000 students and 850 teachers were killed. Approximately 7,700 schools were destroyed. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) made a commitment to the government of Pakistan to help “build back better” the education system and restore livelihoods in earthquake-affected areas.
In recent years, one of the most pressing problems that plagued public sector education in Pakistan was the perpetuation of outdated methods of teaching and learning. Students left the system with no capacity for critical thinking, or much worse, illiterate. The objective of ED-LINKS was to improve the quality and sustainability of teacher education and student performance in the targeted geographical areas of Sindh, Balochistan, Islamabad Capital Territory, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Many international development programs rarely make the effort to involve disabled persons organizations as stakeholders, and as a result, fail to address the needs of people with disabilities in a strategic and inclusive manner. The purpose of the ENGAGE Project was to advance inclusive development assistance practices. Working in Pakistan, Zambia, and Mexico, the ENGAGE Project designed and tested strategies to include a viable disability dimension in programs in the HIV/AIDS, education, and governance sectors.
With the introduction of free primary education in Malawi in 1994, school enrollment skyrocketed and continues to pose great challenges to the education system there. Many pupils were taught by inadequately prepared teachers in overcrowded classrooms with few resources. The shortage of trained teachers was exacerbated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Through the Malawi Teacher Training Activity, AIR contributed towards improving the quality of education in Malawi through the improvement of the professional skills of primary school teachers at the pre-service and in-service levels.
The Primary School Support Program: A School Fees Pilot was a three-year project funded by USAID/Malawi and the Government of Malawi to improve the quality of education in 226 public schools in the Dowa District.
The coup d’etat of 2009 and the resulting political instability, along with subsequent teachers’ strikes, seriously compromised educational opportunities for Honduran students. The Teacher-Citizen Participation Project proposed a new focus on enabling and empowering parents and community members to become agents of change who work together with teachers, principals, and local government authorities to identify, advocate for, and implement actions to advance educational quality.
The Syrian crisis has disrupted the education of Syrian youth and confounded the education systems in countries receiving them. In this 90-second video interview, Amy West, principal project specialist at AIR, explains why education is so critical for Syrian refugee youth.
Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are bringing about a paradigm shift in what it means to be a reader, and in how education systems must be restructured to support children’s acquisition of comprehension and critical reading skills. AIR works with the Ministry of Education in each country to develop a set of measurable, uniform goals that define what is expected of students, teachers, school directors, district and regional education officials, and teacher mentors.
In 1974, Ethiopia suffered a significant turbulent period. After the removal of Emperor Haile Selassie, a military council took power. One of its decisions was to close the university, colleges, teacher training institutes, and secondary schools. Two years later, the country experienced a critical shortage of teachers. In collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education and USAID/Ethiopia, AIR launched the Teach English for Life Learning program, with the primary goal of improving the skills of 20,000 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade English teachers across all nine regions and two chartered cities in Ethiopia.
Corruption in higher education casts a shadow on many countries that are working towards more modern and progressive political and economic systems. In order to respond to these challenges, USAID created the program Ukrainian Standardized External Testing Initiative to address profound challenges in Ukraine’s higher education system, which acknowledged that a transparent, objective testing system was critical in combating irregularities in higher education.
AIR works together with countries and partner organizations to develop appropriate expectations of student performance, create instructional materials aligned to learning standards, measure student learning, and apply the data to help teachers teach more effectively. More
International comparisons of statistical data on national elementary, secondary and higher education school systems provide feedback on how education systems have improved over time, how equitable they are, and students compare to their peers around the world. AIR works extensively with several international studies of education, including PIRLS, PIACC, PISA and TIMSS. More