U.S. Efforts To Educate and Train the Poor in Developing Countries

Gao ID: ID-80-18 May 5, 1980

Since 1960, the United States, through the Agency for International Development (AID) has programmed over $3 billion to improve education and human resources in developing countries. Over the past decade Congress has been concerned about the extent to which U.S. assistance reaches the poor in developing countries. Despite a strategy developed in 1973 requiring that U.S. assistance meet the basic human needs of the poor, including education, AID has not yet completed an agencywide policy for education and human resources program guidance.

AID faces many obstacles in attempting to improve the education of the poor in developing countries. Recipient governments, and often the poor people themselves, do not commit resources needed to implement the U.S. sponsored projects. Problems have been encountered in supplying and maintaining learning materials to users in remote areas and in capital cities. AID had not effectively recorded and used its 20 years of experience in designing, programming, and implementing education and human resource projects. Many development problems encountered currently are similar to previous experiences, but the AID management system did not adequately reflect these experiences in an easily accessible, usable form. Although about 190,000 people have traveled to the United States and other countries since the late 1940's for training, a shortage of qualified local people continues to hinder development projects in many countries. This shortage stems from the impact of the "brain drain," or the exit of skills from developing countries. AID could not fully support its position that less than 1 percent of the sponsored training participants do not return home. It has been estimated that as many as half of all participants were not included in statistics representing those reported returning home after completing training abroad. Furthermore, AID does not adequately follow up on participants to evaluate their contributions to development and the impact of U.S. spending upon the poor.


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