Poverty Reduction Blog Tag: Education
Posted on January 7, 2014 by Scott Fontaine, corporate copywriter-editor
Need a new dress? Latifa Benammi can make that.
How about some embroidery to add flair to that new shirt? Benammi has that covered.
Want to show off to dinner guests with a patterned tablecloth? No problem.
"I can sew anything," the 28-year-old Moroccan said with a smile.
And Benammi is hoping that hours of needlework and some help from MCC will mean a better life.
Benammi is one of 22 members of the Association of Handicapped Women, an artisan cooperative that operates in the medina of Marrakech. Members of the cooperative have enrolled in several different training courses offered through MCC’s $95.5 million Artisan and Fez Medina Project.
Benammi, who was born without toes and has difficulty walking, attended MCC-funded vocational training classes. There she learned how to better communicate with customers and more effectively market her services.
Moroccans who work in the medina of Marrakech are in a prime location to boost their incomes from the millions of people who visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site each year. But if these workers don't have the appropriate skills, they won't be able to take full advantage of their situation.
The classes are already helping Benammi sell more products to tourists, who are attracted to her shop by the MCC-funded artisan circuit. This path guides visitors along one of five routes designed to showcase the neighborhood’s rich history and the diverse work of the medina’s artisans. About 10 percent more tourists visit her shop, she said.
Thanks to the training, other cooperative members created websites to advertise their products and showcase their handicrafts at artisan fairs in Morocco and abroad. Others attended functional literacy classes, during which they learn how to read and write while mastering valuable skills for their profession.
Benammi is hoping the boost in income from the various trainings will help her move out of her family’s home and into an apartment of her own. And maybe in a few years, she hopes, she can purchase a house.
“That’s my goal,” she said.
Posted on October 11, 2013 by Cassandra Butts, Senior Advisor
In Burkina Faso, girls will celebrate the second annual International Day of the Girl Child by attending school thanks to a groundbreaking investment by the Millennium Challenge Corporation in the BRIGHT (Burkinabe Response to Improve Girls’ Chances to Succeed) program. The United Nations determined that this year’s day will focus on “Innovating for Girls Education,” and innovation is at the heart of the BRIGHT program.
To improve educational outcomes for all children in rural villages with low school enrollments, particularly girls, the BRIGHT program was implemented in 132 rural villages throughout Burkina Faso. Each village received primary school construction and an innovative suite of complementary interventions for students, parents and teachers to encourage school attendance and enhance educational environments.
For students, the interventions included school meals, take-home rations for girls, school kits, and textbooks. Parental and community interventions included adult literacy training for mothers, community information campaigns on the benefits of education, especially the education of girls, and community capacity building on the importance of sustaining educational assets. Teachers also benefited through better school facilities including teacher housing, the recruitment of additional female teachers and gender sensitivity training.
The evidence shows that the BRIGHT program’s innovation is producing results. A recent analysis of the program published by economists Harounan Kazianga, Dan Levy, Leigh L. Linden, and Matt Sloan in the July 2013 issue of American Economic Journal: Applied Economics found that the BRIGHT program increased enrollment by 19 percentage points and increased test scores by 0.41 after 2.5 years. The findings also identified BRIGHT success in targeting girls for enrollment, with an increase of 5 percentage points more than boys. And when comparing the BRIGHT “girl friendly” interventions to a regular school, the findings identified an increase in enrollment of 13 percentage points above a regular school’s effect.
Achieving results is at the core of MCC’s model, and the results of this independent analysis are consistent with what we see on the ground. The BRIGHT program is changing the lives of communities, families and girl children throughout Burkina Faso.
Aisattou Hamidou Diallo and Fatimata Yanta (pictured) are two such girl children who participated in the BRIGHT program and came to Washington, DC in 2011 to share their stories of challenge and achievement. The many memories of their visit include meeting First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. Aisattou and Fatimata have gone on to secondary school, where they continue to achieve and build on their BRIGHT experience.
Results like these should be celebrated every day and particularly on the International Day of the Girl Child.
Posted on August 9, 2013 by Eliza Keller, Public Affairs Officer
In recent years, demographic changes and the rise of new technologies have positioned youth as drivers of economic and social progress across the world. Youth are key players in MCC’s mission to reduce poverty through economic growth; through engagement in the United States and in our partner countries, MCC works to empower youth with knowledge and economic freedom.
In the United States, MCC partners with universities across the country and includes students in today’s most pressing development issues through research projects, roundtable discussions and speaking engagements. And it’s not just university students getting involved—last week, MCC hosted a group of local high school students at our Washington headquarters. The students, all starting their freshman year, learned about our innovative model and the impact of our programs and engaged in a spirited discussion on emerging trends in development assistance with MCC experts.
Many MCC-funded programs overseas involve youth through investments in education, technical and vocational training and promoting entrepreneurship. In Namibia, for example, the MCC compact includes a program for young professionals to learn a variety of skills related to working in the tourism industry, like language training, communications skills and knowledge of local plant and animal life. With this expertise, young Namibians are better equipped to enter the professional market and lead Namibia’s growing tourism industry.
Youth in today’s global economy face unprecedented challenges—and opportunities. At MCC, we work to provide youth with access to these opportunities, enabling ownership and leadership for a more prosperous future.
Posted on July 27, 2013 by Daniel W. Yohannes , Chief Executive Officer
I joined Georgians last week in Tbilisi to mark another milestone in their economic development: the signing of a second MCC compact with Georgia that will invest in the education of the next generation. Government leaders, civil society, the private sector, teachers, and parents attended the signing at the Parliament National Library and demonstrated their clear commitment to the compact’s objective of educating Georgians in the science, technology, engineering, and math skills they need to compete and succeed in a modern economy. I share Ambassador Richard Norland’s sentiments that the compact is further proof of the strong and close ties of cooperation between the United States and Georgia.
Before the signing, I met with the Prime Minister, who serves as the chair of the MCA-Georgia board, and we discussed the exciting opportunities the compact brings to Georgia. I also met with other government representatives and business leaders who see the compact as a way to enhance the quality and competitiveness of human capital in Georgia. They all welcome the compact’s projects as ways to better link the skills demanded by the private sector with what the Georgian workforce can offer. This will generate greater private sector activity in Georgia, which ultimately creates jobs, fuels growth and makes the country a stronger trading, investment and business partner at home, in the region and beyond.
MCC’s investment to educate Georgia’s workforce promises to deliver a number of positive effects that will boost earning potential and productivity. Progress like this will replace development dollars with private sector-led growth in Georgia and open new opportunities for Georgian students. MCC is proud to partner with Georgia toward this more hopeful and prosperous future.
Posted on September 11, 2012 by D. Chuluuntsetseg, MCA-Mongolia, and Ch. Tserenkhand, The Asia Foundation
Last year, Millennium Challenge Account-Mongolia and The Asia Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding that brings the latest medical and technical information to Mongolia’s future doctors, engineers, computer programmers, and other skilled workers.
Under the agreement, the foundation’s Books for Asia program delivered 10,000 new technical, vocational and medical books, CDs and DVDs to students and health centers benefitting from MCC's five-year, $285 million compact with Mongolia.
Many publishers generously contributed to the initiative, including McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, Oxford University Press, W.W. Norton & Company, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Books of Discovery, and Island Press.
Highly motivated teachers and students put the books to practical use. Ms. Dorjderem, an assistant teacher of English at the School of Health Technology, currently uses Hole's Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology-Laboratory Manual to prepare class lectures. She also uses Medical Language for Modern Health Care in her classes to improve her students’ medical English proficiency.
Dorjderem also established the school’s first English reading club, using donated books. The club has become a popular place among teachers, students and nurses to improve their English, teaching and learning skills.
One student, B. Banzragch, significantly improved his English skills and was able to enroll in a course at a Japanese university.
“The books from America helped me a lot in gaining knowledge and language skills to achieve my goals,” he said. “These books are really wonderful in terms of giving systemic knowledge and are well-designed and very user-friendly.”
As the legendary Mongolian poet, D. Natsagdorj said, “books are windows to the world.”
Posted on August 24, 2012 by Oliver Pierson, Resident Country Director
MCC and our counterparts at MCA-Namibia are proud to see that Namibia has been chosen to host the 10th Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) taking place in October 2013. The ATWS will draw around 600 delegates and many of the biggest players in the adventure travel tourism industry to Namibia to discuss industry best practices and collaborate on issues facing adventure travel.
MCA-Namibia provided support to the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism in developing Namibia’s bid to host the summit. The MCC-funded tourism project in Namibia, part of the country’s overall $304.5 million compact, is focused around encouraging private investment in the tourism industry, supporting communal conservancies to establish and manage tourism enterprises, and broadening the marketing of Namibia as a tourist destination.
MCC has also worked toward increasing the capacity of Namibia’s tourism industry and improving its management by funding training courses toward the certification of Namibian tour guides. The training courses create new jobs in the sector and work to promote a skilled and educated labor force to cater to the needs of a growing tourist industry. Tourism, already Namibia’s second-most lucrative industry, has the potential to be a strong source of economic growth, helping create more jobs and reduce poverty.
The selection of Namibia, the first African country to host the ATWS, will highlight Namibia’s tourism industry and ideally foster opportunities to build on MCC-funded work in this key sector and drive new private sector investments in tourism.
For more information about the Namibia Compact, visit www.mcc.gov/namibia.
Posted on August 3, 2012 by Molly Glenn, Deputy Resident Country Director
This June, I traveled to Pissila, in the Sanmatega province of Burkina Faso. I was there to attend the closing ceremony for the Burkinabé Response to Improve Girls’ Chances to Succeed (BRIGHT) II Project, funded through the MCC compact with Burkina Faso. Speaking with students, teachers and parents participating in the BRIGHT II Project, I truly experienced firsthand the benefits of MCC’s investment.
The BRIGHT program is a collaborative effort of the United States and Burkina Faso to improve rates of children’s primary school attendance, completion, and promotion to secondary schools. To date, the program, including work performed under the MCC compact, has educated over 27,000 students, including 16,000 girls, and has built 132 primary schools across 10 provinces. The numbers are impressive—but they don’t tell the whole story.
In Pissila, the success and visibility of the BRIGHT program was evident from the high-level participation at the well-attended closing ceremony. The Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, Luc Adolphe Tiao; the Minister of Education and Literacy, Koumba Boly; and U.S. Ambassador Thomas Dougherty were all on hand to share in the celebration. Officials from MCC, USAID, and Plan International were also present. The stars of the show, however, were the 500 students from the BRIGHT school of Pissila, who were as proud as could be to show off their school and accomplishments.
We arrived early on Thursday morning to enthusiastic cheers and waves from students of all ages. Three large tents were set up at the center of the school, flanked by new classrooms, offices and teacher housing. Boys and girls, waving American and Burkinabé flags and proudly wearing their school shirts displaying the BRIGHT II emblem, greeted the prime minister and U.S. ambassador as they arrived. The atmosphere radiated with excitement and joy; students and teachers alike were proud that their school had been selected to host such an event.
The moving speeches and lively performances diverted our attention from the hot Burkina Faso sun and 100+ degree temperatures. Enthralling music and traditional dances had the whole crowd applauding, especially for the youngest dancer in a local troupe who was able to shake the prime minister’s hand. Later, Celia Ella Kafando, a fifth-grader, courageously took to the podium to make a speech on behalf of the students of Pissila.
Though her head barely reached the top of the podium, Celia spoke with a clear and strong voice, thanking MCC and the American people for building her school. To the visible enjoyment of the prime minister, the education minister (one of Burkina Faso’s two female ministers) and the region’s governor (also a woman), Celia shared that many of her fellow students aspired to become governors and ministers thanks to their education. Everyone smiled when the prime minister and education minister were given the “key” to the school, a beautiful, symbolic oversized key made by Burkinabe bronze workers.
The prime minister’s speech was unexpectedly touching and honest. Speaking directly to the students, he admitted that school was not always easy, recognizing that most of them had to move away from home, learn a new language (though French is the official language, over 60 languages are spoken in Burkina Faso) and—perhaps the most universal problem of all—wake up early to get to class. He encouraged the students not to give up and to follow their dreams. Ambassador Dougherty echoed these sentiments in his speech, stating, “We hope each and every BRIGHT school graduate will have success in realizing their potential in the years to come.”
Though two more years remain until the compact’s end, it was encouraging to see such a successful closeout of this project. The Government of Burkina Faso has pledged to maintain the schools and remain committed to supporting girls’ education. In the words of Prime Minister Tiao, “The American people can trust us. We will take care to meet the challenges of underdevelopment.”
For more information about the Burkina Faso Compact, visit www.mcc.gov/burkinafaso.
Posted on July 17, 2012 by B. Tsolmon, MCA gender specialist and focal point, and L. Gerelmaa, MCA gender specialist and focal point
MCA-Mongolia’s commitment to gender integration in its compact has received praise on both sides of the Pacific.
We represented MCA-Mongolia at the inaugural MCC Forum on Global Development in April for receiving the Country Commitment Award. To commemorate this achievement, the Mongolian prime minister hosted a high-profile event in May to celebrate the accomplishment in our country as well.
“We can now witness a tangible impact on the lives of thousands of Mongolians as a result of the compact,” Prime Minister Sükhbaataryn Batbold said at the event at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar.
Not only are stakeholders in the U.S. now aware of the positive strides we’ve made with gender integration, but also ministers, cabinet members, and members of the public and press who attended the event in Ulanbaataar.
A compact beneficiary, Javzan T., shared her experiences and expressed her gratitude to MCC and MCA-Mongolia. Javzan T. is a single mother of eight who benefitted from the compact’s Property Rights Project by having exclusive rights to lease more than 600 hectares of rangeland.
“It is a great opportunity for us to develop our livestock business,” she said. “I would like to express my appreciation to the American people, who have stretched their helping hands to us from such a far place.”
We are very proud to champion the integration of gender considerations across a wide range of operational areas in the Mongolia Compact, including program implementation, communications and monitoring and evaluation. We conducted gender trainings with our program implementation units and contractors and established points of contact on gender issues in each unit. These measures are being reflected in more equitable benefits and have resulted in greater land ownership among women, herder training tailored to both women’s and men’s needs, and health interventions that are mindful of women’s and men’s needs in our communities.
Posted on April 25, 2012 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
This post first appeared on Visa Viewpoints, the official blog of Visa Inc., on April 25, 2012.
Since 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation has been leading the fight against global poverty. As an innovative and independent U.S. development assistance agency, we are changing the conversation on how best to deliver smart assistance by focusing on good policies, country-owned development solutions and results. Our success rests in large part on our ability to forge successful partnerships for sustainable development. This means partnering with countries around the world, civil society, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and other government agencies.
One lesson we know for sure: Assistance alone is not enough. What will be enough to tip the scale toward sustainable growth is the innovation and investment driven by the private sector. The private sector creates jobs and new products. The private sector is where entrepreneurs are born and thrive. And, the growth, investment, trade, and business generated by the private sector will help lift people out of poverty.
Today, the Millennium Challenge Corporation convenes our first Forum on Global Development. This will be a unique occasion for visionaries and practitioners in international development to meet, exchange ideas and honor three outstanding awardees for their work on gender integration, investment and innovation.
On behalf of MCC, I am proud that we will recognize Visa as the recipient of our first Corporate Award for demonstrating exemplary commitment to eradicating poverty in the developing world. We are impressed with Visa’s commitment to advancing financial inclusion by leveraging its core business along with innovation, strategic partnerships and financial literacy. We applaud Visa’s public-private partnership with the Government of Rwanda, including the extensive Charter of Collaboration as well as partnerships with organizations such as Women’s World Banking and GSMA mWomen, to advance financial access for women and their efforts to bring financial literacy education to millions of people worldwide.
In the global fight against financial exclusion and poverty, no single organization has all the answers. But through innovative solutions from—and partnerships among—governments, the private sector and civil society, we are making a difference.
Posted on March 30, 2012 by Daniel Yohannes , Chief Executive Officer
Today’s release of MCC’s 2011 Annual Report, appropriately titled Gateway to Opportunity, captures the milestones of the past year and articulates clear priorities moving forward. In the report, you can read about the significant strides we have made in delivering results, forging partnerships with countries and civil society, and championing policy reforms to create opportunities for sustainable economic growth in some of the world’s poorest countries. This foundation allows us now to expand our work not just to help poor countries rise out of poverty and break the cycle of aid dependency but also to create stable trading and investment partners for the United States, which means more jobs here at home.
By incentivizing the right policy conditions and generating an enabling environment for growth, MCC builds a Gateway to Opportunity for American businesses interested in exporting to or doing business in these next generation emerging markets as they climb out of poverty. Because of this, MCC’s mission is key to Secretary of State Clinton’s 21st century economic statecraft and President Obama’s efforts to put in place an American economy that is “built to last.” MCC is pushing the envelope on development effectiveness and sustainability through our commitment to transparency, accountability, results, policy reform, and country-driven solutions.
MCC’s approach has not gone unnoticed. A November 2011 Fortune Magazine article concludes that MCC “certainly gives the taxpayer real bang for the buck.” A recent MarketWatch commentary by Thomas Kostigen arguing for a robust MCC budget sums up the impact best: “MCC deserves its fair share so the U.S. can gain its fair share in the emerging markets. The global impact of these investments comes back to us all in the form of food, jobs, more open markets for trade, and doing good and right by others. It’s a boomerang effect.”
We agree, and we’re committed to showcasing even more investment and procurement opportunities for U.S. businesses in the months ahead to ensure the full “boomerang effect” of positive impact for the world’s poor as well as American businesses and workers.
Posted on March 1, 2012 by Cassandra Q. Butts, Senior Advisor
Grade school students and teachers of the Bacjao Elementary School in Balangiga, Samar welcome MCC and MCA-Philippines teams on February 28, 2012. The public school is a recipient of two classrooms from the KALAHI-CIDSS project implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
I was in the province of Leyte in the Philippines on Tuesday to witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the municipality of Alang-Alang to begin participating in an innovative approach to development called Kalahi-CIDSS, which is included in the country’s MCC compact. Kalahi-CIDSS is a community-based approach to development that makes beneficiaries active participants in the selection, design and implementation of development projects that they believe are best for their communities.
While Kalahi-CIDSS isn't original to MCC—the program originally was funded in the Philippines by the World Bank—MCC's investment of $120 million will double the size and scale of the program and make it available to communities like Alang-Alang for the first time. MCC is also adding innovations in areas such as gender integration and environmental assessment, impact evaluation and engineering standards that will enhance the value of the program to beneficiaries as well as improve the sustainability of outcomes.
The hope is that Alang-Alang will find the same success with the program as the municipality of Balangiga experienced when it used Kalahi-CIDSS to build schools, a retaining wall to protect against typhoon flooding, a community road, and a bridge. Viscuso de Lira, the mayor of Balangiga, describes the Kalahi-CIDSS program as galvanizing community engagement in a way that had not been achieved before and building community support for sustaining projects that are the product of their own initiative and sweat equity.
MCC and the Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines are further using Kalahi-CIDSS to empower communities in a coordinated campaign against trafficking in persons, seeking to educate Kalahi-CIDSS communities as well as other communities impacted by our road project in the Samar region on preventing this global crime.
Kalahi-CIDSS is not only building and empowering communities but also promoting the principles of transparency and accountability in how development resources are used. This approach can be critical in improving local government at all levels of engagement.
Posted on March 8, 2011 by Cassandra Butts, Senior Advisor
Today we celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. Here at MCC, we’re using the occasion to continue to put a spotlight on the need for a focus on gender equality in global development efforts.
We are proud of the positive feedback we have received on MCC’s gender policy work, and today we release a paper in which Virginia Seitz, our lead expert on gender and social assessment, outlines some of operational lessons we’ve learned integrating gender into our programs. It’s recommended reading for anyone interested in making sure women and men have equal access to the tools of economic growth. You can read it here.
This is also a big week for two young girls from rural Burkina Faso. MCC is hosting Aissatou Hamidou Diallo and Fatimata Yanta, students who participate in the MCC-funded BRIGHT school program in Burkina. The BRIGHT program has given these girls an opportunity for an education, and they’re making the most of it; they are both at the top of their class. Aissatou and Fatimata were invited to be honored guests at a White House reception hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. It is our hope that this experience allows them to build lasting understandings of the essential role of girls’ education in fighting poverty and contributing to economic growth and inspires them to keep up their good work in the classroom.
This Thursday, Aissatou and Fatimata along with Madame Madeline Sorgo â€“ a Burkina educator and board member of the Burkina Millennium Challenge Account â€“ will also join our CEO, Daniel Yohannes, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and U.S. Representative Nita Lowey at an event on Capitol Hill. It will feature remarks from Mr. Yohannes, Senator Cardin and Rep. Lowey and a panel discussion on the importance of gender equality to our development efforts. If you are in the Washington area, please feel free to attend. The event is at 12 p.m. this Thursday, March 10, in Room 325 of the Russell Senate Office Building. Follow this link to RSVP.
Check back on this blog and on MCC’s Facebook page for photos from this week’s events.
Posted on July 14, 2010 by Cassandra Butts, MCC Senior Advisor
Last week I was fortunate to represent MCC at a signing ceremony kicking off MCC’s $15 million Threshold Program with the Government of Liberia. Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and a bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation led by Rep. David Price and Rep. David Dreier, representing the U.S. House Democracy Partnership, also attended the signing ceremony, which took place in Monrovia. We were also pleased to have Rep. Donald Payne participate in the ceremony as a long-time supporter of African development and MCC.
The visit marked my first time back to Liberia since a 1999 trip as a member of a congressional staff delegation reviewing the status of refugees in what was then a conflict-riven region. What I saw on my recent trip provided considerable hope that Liberia, under the leadership of President Johnson Sirleaf, is well positioned to translate MCC’s Threshold Program investment in land access and policy, girls’ primary education, and trade policy into successfully- implemented programs that will meaningfully contribute to Liberia’s future development.
While all three components of Liberia’s Threshold Program were identified by Liberians as a part of their national development strategy and are designed to improve Liberia’s performance in the policy areas measured by MCC eligibility criteria, the girls’ primary education program has a particular resonance for me as MCC’s point person for the integration of gender equality in the programs we fund. This is a priority that I share with President Johnson Sirleaf as we, and many others, recognize, without question, that educating girls is crucial to a country’s long-term economic development.
There is no question that the road ahead will be challenging for Liberia, but the country continues to make significant strides in demonstrating a commitment to policy reform and responsible leadership under President Johnson Sirleaf that made our Threshold Program partnership possible in the first place. We look forward to working with the Government of Liberia and USAID, the U.S. Government agency that will administer the Threshold Program, to ensure the delivery of results that will improve the policy environment in the targeted sectors and contribute to the long-term growth and prosperity of the people of Liberia.
Posted on April 27, 2010 by Oliver Pierson, Deputy Resident Country Director, Namibia
Namibia’s MCC compact, signed in July 2008, includes MCC’s largest education project, which is designed to improve the quality of Namibia’s education system. One of the substantial challenges Namibia is trying to address is a lack of textbooks for many of its students, particularly those in rural areas, where as many as five students share one textbook. It was with much pleasure and pride that the first textbooks were transferred to the Namibian Ministry of Education this past Saturday, April 24th. The event was even more significant as the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns was present to hand the books over on behalf of the U.S. Government.
In a ceremony marked by a great turnout from the Namibian government and people, Undersecretary Burns described how the books will improve the textbook ratio for Namibian students in grades 5 to 12 to one book per student in English, Math, and Science. To make this possible, MCC funds were used to conduct a textbook inventory of elementary schools and to identify all the gaps. This tranche of textbooks will fill the identified gaps, and in the later years of the compact, an entire new set of textbooks will be purchased with MCC funds for all students in Namibia in grades 5 to 12.
The delivery of textbooks is just one small aspect of the MCC-funded Education Project in Namibia. The delivery of these books is part of a much broader project that also includes expanding and renovating 47 schools, constructing regional libraries and vocational training centers, and training teachers. Undersecretary Burns referred to some of the upcoming challenges in his remarks, “Now comes the hard part. It will be up to teachers and students to make good use of these materials.” MCC will help address those challenges as well by providing training for teachers on how to use the textbooks to improve the quality of their lesson plans. They will also be trained on ways to improve the textbook ordering and distribution systems.
On that sunny Saturday morning in Windhoek, MCC, MCA-Namibia, the local entity in change of implementing the MCC compact, and Namibian government officials were pleased to recognize that an initial milestone had been reached and that the compact was beginning to show tangible results. But no one was happier than the 30 to 40 students present, who got a first glimpse of what students across Namibia will be seeing in their classroom on a daily basis. Almost 700,000 textbooks will be delivered to 1,000 Namibian elementary schools starting in May, and by the end of June, all these books should be in the hands of Namibia’s next generation.
Namibia’s Minister of Education Abraham Iyambo best described the impact of the MCC Education Project when he said, “In the long-term, this support will contribute to the aspiration of our country’s national development plans for productive and competitive human resources and institutions.” While he is setting the bar very high, the MCA Namibia team and our partners are ready to meet the challenge. Already, we are eagerly awaiting the next milestone in the Education Project, which will be the start of renovation, expansion, and construction work at some elementary schools with the greatest need.
Posted on April 21, 2010 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
This trip to El Salvador has been tremendous. Without a doubt, one of the most moving moments was witnessing the laying of the first kilometers of asphalt on the Northern Transnational Highway, parts of which are being constructed with MCC compact funds. Salvadorans have heard promises of the road surface being laid for about 50 years. And, now, through the MCC-El Salvador compact, they can see the road with their own eyes. As the Salvadoran Minister of Public Works said, the work on the compact’s Northern Transnational Highway project proves that “el sueño es posible” – the dream is possible. It is truly wonderful for MCC to be part of such a historic advancement for this country, especially one that was brought about by the vision and hard work of Salvadorans themselves and through the generosity of the American people.
We also met with members of FOMILENIO’s Board of Directors, whose commitment to the program is evident and has been critical to the compact’s progress. We then proceeded to Chalatenango for the groundbreaking on the community college that will be constructed as part of the compact program. After the celebration at the school site, I had the pleasure of meeting with civil society representatives and 20 mayors from the Northern Zone, many of whom serve on FOMILENIO’s advisory council, which provides local oversight of the compact projects and meets regularly with FOMILENIO’s board and senior management. Such model civil society and local engagement goes a long way to promote the accountability and transparency essential for the compact’s success.
The teamwork and dedication I have seen over these past few days have been incredible, and certainly have been the driving force behind the great progress being made on El Salvador’s MCC compact.
The Government of El Salvador is committed to the compact and to performing well on MCC’s policy indicators. Of course, in the final two and one-half years of the compact, there remains much work to be done. The government must continue to focus on policy performance and on effective project implementation. I look forward to returning to El Salvador in the future to see the road and other unfinished projects when they are completed.
I am confident that the fine team at FOMILENIO, led by Technical Secretary and Board Chairman Alexander Segovia and by Executive Director José Ángel Quirós, will deliver results on MCC’s investments. As I shared with those gathered at the Northern Transnational Highway ceremony, the people here are laying a strong foundation for El Salvador’s future by creating an environment for opportunity and sustainable growth.
Posted on April 20, 2010 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
Yesterday, I participated in a ceremony inaugurating a high school in the San Ignacio municipality of El Salvador, one of 20 middle technical schools that has been rehabilitated with funds from MCC’s compact with El Salvador. MCC’s compact with El Salvador. I was honored to meet Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, Vice President Sanchez Ceren, and El Salvador’s First Lady Vanda Pignato. President Funes spoke eloquently at the ceremony about the need to provide El Salvador’s youth with hope and possibilities for a brighter future.
I was most moved by a 15-year old student at the San Ignacio Institute by the name of Andrea. She shared with the large crowd in attendance how important the improvements to the school are to her and her classmates. She promised that they would make the most of the new opportunities before them and that they would exceed even our highest expectations. Andrea is enrolled in the Institute’s new program for alternative tourism, which is one of two new curriculums—the other is technical civil engineering—developed as part of FOMILENIO’s education program.
As I have said since joining MCC, I am keenly interested in ensuring that MCC programs create opportunities that enable citizens in partner countries to pull themselves out of poverty and advance the economic growth of their communities. When Andrea shared that, for herself and her classmates, the MCC-funded works and programs at San Ignacio would “fulfill our dreams of becoming professionals and of being entrepreneurs of our own development,” I was extremely heartened. This eloquent, confident young woman captured the heart of MCC’s work in El Salvador.
Posted on March 4, 2010 by Jason Bauer, Director of Private Sector Initiatives
This week more than 167 companies attended a procurement conference and heard about contracting opportunities arising from projects funded by Millennium Challenge Corporation compacts. Supported by Business Unity South Africa, Standard Bank, and the U.S. Embassy, the conference was hosted at the Development Bank of Southern Africa in Midrand, South Africa. Country teams from Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania discussed over $3 billion in procurement opportunities, ranging from building roads and water systems to building health centers and schools. The compact in Ghana and compacts still being developed with the governments of Malawi and Zambia were also discussed.
The conference highlighted the business opportunities that ultimately support MCC’s mission of reducing poverty through economic growth. The conferences key themes included the openness and transparency of the procurement processes, the ability for international companies to bid on compact projects and the unique opportunities for U.S. and international suppliers.
Companies attending the conference included those focusing on infrastructure engineering, design, and construction, as well as those providing project management and technical assistance. The resounding message: MCC partner countries throughout Africa are open for business.
Posted on February 16, 2010 by Stephen Marma, Resident Country Director, Nicaragua
As the Resident Country Director in Nicaragua, I have seen firsthand how the quality of life of the poor has improved because of MCC development assistance that emphasizes country-led and country-implemented solutions. This type of country ownership makes programs stronger, empowers partners, and ensures sustainable results. The Nicaraguan compact is an example of a homegrown program that helps to reduce poverty and generate economic growth.
MCC is investing to increase the incomes of rural farmers and entrepreneurs living in the departments of León and Chinandega. MCC investments in strategic projects are helping to reduce transportation costs, improve access to markets, strengthen property rights, increase business investments, and raise incomes for farms and rural businesses. Road rehabilitation works have been completed, and a road maintenance fund has been established by law to ensure that all roads in Nicaragua are maintained. In addition, farmers have received technical assistance, business development services, and grants to help develop higher-profit agriculture, agribusiness, and artisan enterprises. To ensure sustainability, farmers and cooperatives have increased and improved production and have better access to markets, including contracts to provide products to local and international companies.
Clear results can already be seen in Nicaragua as documented in two recent productions.
Check out the video produced by Millennium Challenge Account-Nicaragua, the local entity responsible for implementing Nicaraguas MCC compact:
Together, MCC and MCA-Nicaragua are paving a way to a better life for thousands of Nicaraguans.
Posted on February 11, 2010 by Molly Glenn, Deputy Resident Country Director, Burkina Faso
On Friday, January 29, 2010, I had the privilege of attending a launching ceremony in the town of Sabou with the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, senior government and local officials, the MCC Resident Country Mission, dedicated members of the MCA Board, hundreds of residents of the Sabou Commune, and the senior management team of MCA-Burkina Faso, which is in charge of implementing Burkina Faso’s $481 million MCC compact. The event was vibrant and animated, filled with pertinent skits and musical interludes. Even though we were just an hour south of Ouagadougou, it felt like we were a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city and were truly in the heart of Burkina Faso. The town of Sabou, its residents, and MCA animated the countryside with a truly inspiring and motivating ceremony.
The event marks the start of on-the-ground field activities for two components of the Burkina Faso compact: feasibility studies for the 270 kilometers of primary roads to be constructed under the Roads project and the communication and education campaign surrounding the new national land law and regulations in 17 pilot communes under the Rural Land Governance project. With the complexity and intensity of the demands and deadlines revolving around projects of this size and scope, we often get caught up in Ouagadougou with meetings, workshops, project planning, financial number crunching, and all the necessary management responsibilities. When we stop and take the time to go to the field to visit with program participants, we see firsthand the excitement on their faces about the transformation of their future. We realize just where the real energy is with this compact.
The ceremony was filled with information, speeches, gratitude, theater, and music. It was a perfect mix of formal and informal, ceremonial and artistic, and cultural and educational. Information booths were filled with explanatory visuals and maps of project activities. Experts were on hand to explain the components: roads to be constructed, land conflict resolution techniques, decentralized administrative buildings to be constructed, and other aspects.
The skits were dynamic and filled with appropriate humor on the sensitive subject of land tenure. Even with my extremely limited knowledge of Moor_, one of the local languages of Burkina Faso, it was evident that the audience absorbed from the skits that land laws, regulations, and tools are now in place in Burkina Faso to clarify ambiguous land use situations, such as those between cattle herders and farmers. The theater troupe was able to infuse a touch of comedy into a serious subject and provide the audience with a glimpse into the land conflict resolution mechanisms and positive outcomes that will be possible through the Rural Land Governance project.
The official speeches were inspirational, expressing thanks to the American people and MCC, an understanding of the challenges ahead, and a clear message from the Government of Burkina Faso via Minister Laurent Sédogo from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Water Resources, who said that the MCC compact, will bring about dynamic change, will require a rigorous pace of implementation, and will change the lives of Burkina Fasos disenfranchised, including women.
Posted on January 25, 2010 by Vince Ruddy, Resident Country Director, El Salvador, and Rebecca Tunstall, Associate Director for Monitoring and Evaluation
In December, 1,000 students in El Salvador were assigned scholarships for the 2010 school year. The scholarships will provide money for students who attend technical schools for books, uniforms, room and board, and transportation. These scholarships are designed to keep teenagers in school when they cant afford it on their own. This program is especially important for students in the Northern Zone of El Salvador since the average level of schooling is only 4.3 years, which is more than 1.5 years lower than the rest of the country. Plus, a technical education is estimated to increase students employability and raise their incomes by more than 30 percent.
FOMILENIO (the entity managing El Salvador’s $460.9 million MCC compact) started publicizing the scholarships and recruiting students months ago. Almost 1,900 applications were received. Of those, 1,500 applicants met the minimum requirements, but FOMILENIO could not provide all of them with scholarships. Therefore, it was decided that the scholarship recipients would be selected randomly at a public event. By selecting students to receive scholarships randomly, every student had the same chance of being selected through this fair process. By conducting the selection publicly and providing an internet link for remote viewers, FOMILENIO’s process was both open and transparent. The final list of selected scholarship recipients was handed out to school directors and published on FOMILENIOs web site.
In addition to the benefits of fairness and transparency, a random selection of scholarship recipients allowed for a rigorous evaluation of the programs impact. The students who were not selected will be tracked and compared with the students who were selected. Because the students were selected at random, the two groups should be the same on average now and any change in their future income can likely be attributed to the scholarship. This type of evaluation methodology is considered a best practice and one that MCC is using in a variety of programs and countries around the world to assess the impact made to promote sustainable poverty reduction and economic growth.
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