February 26, 2014
MCC and Education: Investing in People for Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction
Lack of access to and low quality of education constrain economic growth in many Millennium Challenge Corporation partner countries. MCC has invested $454 million in nine countries since 2004 in projects involving primary education, vocational training, non-formal training, and graduate degree programs to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to obtain good jobs, establish their own businesses and increase their earning potential.
Primary and Secondary School Education
Providing general education to children is fundamental to the economic and social development of countries. Education is one of the strongest tools for reducing poverty, improving the status of women, strengthening family health, and enhancing social stability. In many countries, however, education access remains a challenge, especially for girls. Improving education quality ensures students leave school with the skills necessary to become productive citizens. MCC investments to support education systems include building or rehabilitating school buildings, curriculum reform, new textbooks, teacher training, and assessment development.
In Georgia, MCC is helping improve math and science learning through rehabilitating 130 schools; training all 23,400 secondary school math, science, and English teachers, as well as all 2,000 school principals; and improving the ability of the education system to monitor performance through student assessments. More than 200,000 Georgians students—almost all secondary school students in the country—will benefit from the project.
Technical and Vocational Education and Training
In many countries, there is a mismatch between technical and vocational education and training programs and the skills needed by companies. To help create a demand-driven system, MCC has supported reforms to enhance private sector engagement, establish labor market information systems to monitor employment trends and inform training needs, update curricula, train teachers, and provide new laboratory space and equipment. A key strategy is to expand public-private partnerships to help schools respond more directly to labor market needs.
In El Salvador, MCC funding improved infrastructure and equipment and provided scholarships, teacher training, a new curriculum, and new buildings to help increase student enrollment in 20 technical secondary schools and the Chalatenango Technical Institute, benefitting more than 250,000 residents in the country’s remote Northern Zone who now have improved technical skills and will obtain higher-paying jobs after graduation.
To compete in today’s economy and respond quickly to evolving social and economic needs, countries must prepare highly skilled and highly trained workers. This requires investments that better align a country’s institutions with international standards for higher education. MCC investments in post-secondary or tertiary education reform have included supporting partnerships with international schools to enable local programs to continually enhance their practices and sustain compact results.
To stem the rise in deaths from non-communicable disease and injury in Mongolia, MCC funded a partnership between Health Sciences University of Mongolia and The George Washington University to establish a new master of public health program to focus on this critical issue.
To reach the vulnerable and poor, MCC funds education and training programs for those who have been excluded from formal education. While most donors overlook the value of adult literacy training, MCC has invested in adult literacy to enable workers to acquire new skills or trades. These skills allow individuals to boost their earning potential by finding new and better jobs or starting their own enterprises.
To enhance workforce development and extend opportunities to women in Morocco, MCC provided 69,000 farmers, artisans and fishers with literacy training in their specific sectors, along with training in life skills, professional skills and formal literacy. More than 70 percent of participants were women.