USAID created its worldwide project, Advancing Basic Educationand Literacy (ABEL), to address national and international concerns across the broad spectrum of basic education, formal education systems, early childhood education, and nonformal education for out-of-school youth and adults. Broad consensus on the urgency of these issues was reached in 1990, when the nations of the world and the international and bilateral donors met in Jom Tien, Thailand at the World Conference on Education for All. The leaders who gathered at the conference affirmed the importance of basic education to spurring economic development and combating poverty, managing population growth and improving child health, preserving the environment and expanding civic participation, and promoting equality between men and women. Nations and donors committed themselves to making education a high priority for intellectual and financial investment.
Significant gains have been made in enrolling more children and in reaching the least served populations, girls and women, out-of-school youth, and minority ethnic groups. Needs are still vast, however. Most importantly, greater urgency than ever is needed to bring girls and women into formal and nonformal education systems. Also, the quality of education lags far behind the emphasis on numbers enrolled. Improving quality calls for concerted efforts in the areas of teacher education, curriculum dev elopment, efficient use of resources, empowerment of local school directors and teachers, and community involvement.
Now working in over 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, ABEL assists governments and USAID Missions in project design, evaluation, policy reform support, pilot projects, and applied research. ABEL also provides managerial and operational support to USAID Missions that are initiating basic education programs through both short and long-term technical assistance and provides short-term training to build capacity within ministries of education and local schools. The ABEL Pro ject concentrates on strengthening the policy reform process, increasing the participation and persistenceof girls in basic education, improving the use of technology in education, and NGO development.
The ABEL 2 Clearinghouse serves as the proactive unifying mechanism for ensuring that a cycle of collection, assessment, dissemination, and feedback continues throughout the project. It integrates and disseminates results of individual tasks, so that information and lessons learned transfer from one situation to another or from one component to another. The ABEL 2 Clearinghouse disseminates project experience, research results,and lessons learned to regional networks of governments, NGOs, and donors through a series of Information Packages, Project Briefs, and Project Monographs.
The prime contractor is Academy for Educational Development. Subcontractors are: Creative Associates International, Inc., Education Development Center,Inc., Florida State University, Harvard Institute for Internationa l Development, and the Research Triangle Institute. Project Collaborators include: Abt Associates, Inc., Clark Atlanta University, Institute for International Research, International Literacy Institute of the University of Pennsylvania, Save the Children , and regional education institutions in the developing world.
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