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USAID and Brookings discuss education and militancy in Pakistan

USAID held a lively discussion this week on the connection between education and militancy in Pakistan, focused on the Brookings Institution’s newly released report, Beyond Madrassas: Assessing the Links between Education and Militancy in Pakistan.

The Brookings Institution funded and wrote the report, but we thought its release would be a great opportunity for staff from USAID and US government agencies, think tanks, academics, diaspora groups and other development partners to discuss the findings more in-depth.

USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, told the 125 attendees that the event was “part of our reform agenda here at USAID …  to be as evidence-based as possible in making program decisions that get more educational results for U.S. tax dollars”.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey - USAID - Brookings Institution

Congresswoman Nita Lowey – USAID – Brookings Institution

Guest speaker Congresswoman Nita Lowey thanked the report co-authors, Dr. Rebecca Winthrop and Dr. Corinne Graff, saying “we know that education, especially a quality basic education, is instrumental in fostering a more peaceful society, preventing conflict, and ensuring equality between men and women.”

Afghanistan/Pakistan Task Force director Jim Bever moderated the discussion, which featured the report co-authors Dr. Winthrop and Dr. Graff, Steve Inskeep (National Public Radio), Bruce Riedel (Brookings Institution) and Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa (Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies).

Read more about the event, see the full transcript.

This Week at USAID – June 21, 2010

Secretary Clinton and Administrator Shah will deliver opening remarks on “LGBT Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy” at an event co-hosted by State’s Office of Civil Rights and GLIFAA, the organization for Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies.

At an event in the Ronald Reagan Building, USAID will join the Brookings Institution to launch a new report on education in Pakistan.  The event will discuss efforts to create concrete programs in Pakistan’s education sector that can more effectively advance U.S. security objectives in the region and contribute to longer-term stability in Pakistan.  Administrator Shah, Congresswoman Lowey and Mr. Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution, are among the key speakers.

Administrator Shah will give remarks at a dinner during the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) conference in Washington, DC.  AAPI is a forum to facilitate and enable Indian American Physicians to excel in patient care, teaching and research and to pursue their aspirations in professional and community affairs.

Football – More Than a Game

submitted by Karen Towers

Football - not just a game

Kids playing football in the Nike Foundation provided stadium in Pretoria

Wherever you are on earth, it’s only a matter of time before you will come across children playing football. Across every continent, football is a common language and a culture shared: a joy, a passion, an escape and an affirmation of identity understood and celebrated by children and their parents in every country on earth. The frenzy surrounding the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, makes it clear that soccer is not just a game, but a source of national pride and a representation of human ability on and off the field.

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Forging New Careers: USAID program seeks to train 100,000 Pakistani youth for in-demand jobs

Najeeb focuses during welding training. He is among 100,000 underemployed Pakistani youth USAID is training and helping with job placement under its Economic Growth program.

Holding an electric arc in his right hand, and a steel and glass helmet in front of his face with his left, Najeeb Ahmed bears down on a sheet of metal, focusing intensely as he heats a straight line across a forge under the watchful eye of an experienced ironworker.

Like millions of young Pakistanis, the 30-year-old Najeeb is ambitious and eager to work yet is nonetheless unemployed.  Becoming a welder may be his last chance to provide a good life for his family of six.

USAID is facilitating the placement of 100,000 Pakistanis – at least half women – in skill-matched jobs through training and placement
centers that establish linkages with the businesses, complementing other USAID programs such as education, health, and economic growth initiatives.

USAID is helping people find new economic options that offer hope for themselves and their children.  Growing job opportunities in key emerging sectors, such as food processing, construction, educational and health services, and marble, gems and jewelry will offer a way out of the cycle of poverty and violence currently afflicting much of Pakistan, particularly in the rural parts of the country.

USAID in the News

Submitted by Jessica Scott

Administrator Shah took part in the first ever US-India Strategic Dialogue this week. The meeting included a host of senior leaders from both sides.  Dr. Shah discussed development as part of the complex relationship between the two countries.

The final 314 American troops from Operation Unified Response were airlifted from Haiti on Tuesday. Even as troops were being pulled out of the country, they continued to work with USAID and the UN in nine camps housing Haitians who lost their homes.  The Washington Post’s editorial page commemorated the transition with a lead editorial that mentions USAID in connection with the importance of continued U.S. involvement in Haiti’s recovery.  USAID officials who have been leading this effort, including Paul Weisenfeld and Christopher Milligan, attended the World Summit on the Future of Haiti.

The USAID-Funded FIRMS Initiative is helping bridge the gap between Pakistani mango farmers and European consumers.  Pakistan exports a relatively small percentage of its mango production.  Under the FIRMS program, farmers are being trained in the best ways to pick, sort, grade, and package the

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USAID Support to Girls’ Education Helps Break Cycle of Poverty in Pakistan

Students celebrate at a new school built through USAID assistance from the American people

In many households in Pakistan, poverty and tradition prevent millions of school age children access to quality education.

Low attendance rates, inadequate infrastructure, and poorly trained teachers perpetuate theseserious gaps in education.  Despite these challenges, education is a top priority for families.

USAID/Pakistan is making schooling more accessible to girls so to help them become pillars of Pakistan’s future progress. When girls attain higher levels of education, they are more likely to improve household living standards, have smaller and more sustainable families and their children are less likely to be malnourished. In short, they are better equipped, empowered and inspired to break the cycle of poverty.

At the Interaction Forum in Washington, D.C. on June 2, USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah said “Girls’ education is one of the most valuable interventions that can be made to improve long-term social outcomes.” Read his remarks here.

USAID/Pakistan, in coordination with other donors, has embarked on a large scale program to help Pakistan increase enrollments and expand educational opportunities, improve the quality of learning, rebuild schools and increase support for higher education. To date, USAID programs ensured that approximately 900,000 school-aged children were able to attend classes.

USAID/Pakistan plans to renovate 4,000 primary schools to repair the schools, provide furniture, toilets and clear water for students throughout the country; renovate primary schools to include the middle school grades (six to eight), especially for girls; and is increasing student achievement in science, math, English and computer literacy – four critical subjects at the middle and secondary school levels, and upgrading teacher skills.

In addition, a new USAID educational outreach program through the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop will build language, problem-solving and analytical thinking skills for children across Pakistan. The project will feature puppet-based television broadcasts, complementary radio programming and a dynamic website where children can interact with their favorite puppets, live shows staged from vehicles set up as theatres will reach remote, rural areas, including conflict-affected districts. Messages will promote learning while reflecting Pakistani culture and values, based on the country’s education curriculum. Read more here.

Rebuilding Communities in Pakistan

By Zack Taylor

Khana Mohri buffalo milk producers, primarily men, developed a dairy association with USAID support. The association provides training and veterinary support to its members, and stores its milk in a chiller bought through the USAID project.

On October 8, 2005, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and AJK, killing 74,000 people and injuring 70,000. In the years since the devastating earthquake, reconstruction of the region has been an important component of the development portfolio at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Pakistan.

Read more about efforts to rebuild lives and livlihoods of the families and communities who live in this remote, mountainous province in Pakistan.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the U.S. government mobilized all of its available resources. Military helicopters transported survivors out of destroyed cities and brought in thousands of tons of relief materials such as food, medical services, clothing, and tents in collaboration with the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team. Heavy machinery moved debris to search for victims and set the stage for rebuilding.

The close teamwork of Pakistani and U.S. governments, along

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Measured Marriage: For One 15-year old, a Chance to Finish Childhood from USAID

Due in large measure to USAID-provided health messages provided to a member of the local Village Council and leader in her community, 15-year-old Bakhtawar will be able to finish school - and growing up - before she is married.

Kanjeer, Pakistan – Bakhtawar was a good student in the fifth grade at a small school located in a Southern Pakistan village.

She enjoyed learning, laughing with her friends, and spending time with her family. But one evening, as she sat nervously in a chair beside her parents at the local meeting hall, she knew that everything about her childhood was coming to an end. No more school, no more girlfriends, no more fun.

At 15, Bakhtawar was about to become engaged to be married. Read her story here!

The impacts of early marriage are substantial not

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Development as a discipline in China

I’m in Beijing to take part in the Strategic and Economic Dialogue along with other Obama Administration leaders.

First stop: China Agricultural University where the Agriculture Cadres Training College is preparing the next generation of development professionals.

This is the only university In China to have a discipline in development; it offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field. The visit here was very exciting — there were great questions about Africa and partnerships — and the students were extremely engaging.

A Hub for Girl Geeks

In yesterday’s meeting with technology entrepreneurs, we learned about a new innovation hub in Nairobi that’s serving as an incubation space for the local tech community.

Needless to say, we were intrigued. So today I decided to investigate and paid a visit to the iHub –a modern, open and light filled community workspace where programmers, tech entrepreneurs, investors

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