Room to Learn

Developing countries have succeeded in reducing the number out-of-school primary-aged children by 37 million since 1999. However, progress towards universal access has stagnated, and more than 61 million primary-aged children still remain out of school, with 40 percent in countries affected by conflict. USAID already works in partnership with many of these countries to increase equitable access to education for learners in crisis or conflict-affected environments.


Additional targeted efforts are necessary to accelerate progress toward the Second Millennium Development Goal (MDG2) of universal primary education. As we enter the final 1,000 days of the MDGs, USAID is redoubling its efforts to ensure that children have access to school and acquire essential basic skills. Working closely with UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown and the Global Education First Initiative, USAID is exploring ways to increase equitable access to education in six countries with high out-of-school populations: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Haiti, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Sudan. This effort will include close examination of USAID’s ongoing and planned programs for ways to better partner, innovate, reduce costs, and maximize impact. To kick off this effort, the USG is hosting a high-level policy dialogue at the White House with participation from the governments of DRC, Nigeria and South Sudan. We plan to:

  • Work with Ministers of Finance and Education to understand and address critical challenges and bottlenecks facing the education sectors in their countries
  • Advance “Room to Learn”, Goal 3 of USAID’s Education Strategy, through new and innovative programming and partnerships to accelerate equitable access to education
  • Retain education as a high-level U.S. government development priority and reinforce the idea that every child, everywhere should have “Room to Learn”
  • Contribute to the efforts of Education First, the Global Partnership for Education, donors, private sector, civil society, and developing country partners to generate renewed and additional commitment for evidencebased interventions designed to collaborate on country level education assistance strategies to get children into school and learning


Through “Room to Learn”, Goal 3 of our Education Strategy, USAID is committed to:
  • Improving equitable access to education for15 million learners by 2015 in crisis and conflict environments, focusing on the most vulnerable such as displaced populations, ethnic minorities and waraffected youth
  • Providing safe access to schools for students and teachers, especially for girls
  • Rebuilding education systems, including the teaching corps, and improving the management of school systems
  • Preventing and mitigating conflict and crisis through the development of specialized education programs and community engagement

USAID aims to improve equitable access for over 1.5 million students and increase learning for over six million children in three countries, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and South Sudan.

USAID Target: Numbers of children gaining access to school
USAID Target: Numbers of children benefitting from improved education quality
DRC 450,000 1,875,450
Nigeria 500,000 3,000,000
South Sudan 600,000 1,246,178
TOTAL 1,550,000 6,121,628


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