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USAID Awards IFESH $8 Million to Continue Education Program in sub-Saharan Africa

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded the Phoenix, Arizona-based International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH) $8 million under the American Educators for Africa (AEFA) Program. Research shows that while sub-Saharan Africa has made substantive progress in reaching the Education for All (EFA) goals and the Millennium Development Goals for Education, the region still lags behind all other regions of the world in terms of distance in reaching goals.

For example, although sub-Saharan Africa accounted for only 19 percent of the world's primary school-age population in 2006, the region accounted for as much as 47 percent of out-of-school children. Although primary school enrollment rates have increased in recent years, persistent and systemic problems remain related to the quality of learning environments afforded to African children.

Through the AEFA program, IFESH will assist African countries in attaining their Education for All goals. The award will allow IFESH to recruit and assign volunteer International Educators for Africa (IEFAs) over the next three years to carry out training activities and provide other relevant support services in nine priority countries where USAID currently has strategic education objectives: Benin, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria and Senegal. Through this new partnership, IFESH plans to train an additional 63,000 teachers and benefit nearly 40,000 others through education workshops and establishing teacher resource centers. This year, the organization plans to deploy 55 volunteer educators under the program. Each African country has its own unique educational needs and volunteer educators give support by working with local ministries of education to fulfill specific teacher-training requests while placing strict focus on instructive design; curriculum development; English as a Second Language training; delivery of in-service workshops to primary and secondary school teachers; demonstrative teaching and classroom observation; administrative management training; HIV/AIDS awareness; improvement of teacher resource centers; development of teaching and learning materials; and the promotion of child-centered learning and gender equity.

The American volunteers will be joined by 27 in-country volunteers in order to build capacity and extend the reach of the program. In addition, IFESH will provide educational technical assistance to non-governmental and community-based organizations.

Since 1992, IFESH has recruited more than 1,000 American volunteer educators who have helped to improve the educational capacity of 14 sub-Saharan African countries, including: Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Namibia, Senegal and Zimbabwe. Their work has directly impacted more than 500,000 teachers who have, in turn, impacted the lives of millions of students. Approximately 95 percent of those selected for the program hold at least a master's degree and have an average of 12 years of teaching experience.

IFESH focuses on teacher training to reduce hunger and poverty, empowering African communities by raising standards of literacy, and fostering cultural, social and economic relations between Americans and Africans. In addition, the organization also focuses on empowering individuals through community-based programs in the areas of education, health, conflict mitigation and community development.

July 28, 2009