Washington, DC - In March 2015, the President and First Lady launched Let Girls Learn, a U.S. Government initiative bringing together the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation to address the range of challenges preventing adolescent girls from attending and completing school and realizing their potential as adults.
Building on existing U.S. government investments and expertise, Let Girls Learn invests in new programs and elevates existing programs, leverages public-private partnerships, and challenges organizations, governments, and private sector partners to commit to improving the lives of adolescent girls worldwide.
Today, the United States announced a continuation of these efforts through the planned construction of 25 new public schools—70 percent of which will be girls’ schools—in Jordan with $100 million of U.S. assistance under the auspices of United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s ongoing school construction and improvement efforts. Many students in Jordan currently learn in overcrowded classrooms and schools, and efforts to accommodate Syrian refugees has made the situation more acute. Many of these new schools will be constructed in urban areas with overcrowded schools, helping to alleviate pressures on Jordan’s education system. The new schools will accommodate 25,000 children each year and provide students with the opportunity to learn in new, modern buildings equipped with technology that facilitates learning. Since 2006, USAID’s Jordan School Construction and Rehabilitation Project has put $199 million toward the construction of 28 new schools and the renovation or expansion of an additional 97 schools. These efforts have improved the learning environment for more than 100,000 students attending the 125 new or rehabilitated schools. Today’s announcement is part of major planned USAID programming in Jordan’s education sector over the next five years and builds on a strong partnership between the governments of the United States and Jordan to improve the quality of education and to provide schooling experiences that help to ensure Jordanian youth—young men and women alike—can pursue their broader aspirations.
Additional United States initiatives to meet education goals in Jordan and the region include:
- USAID, in conjunction with the Queen Rania Teaching Academy, provides training and materials to supervisors and teachers who support Jordan’s inclusive education services, including providing education opportunities to Syrian students who have sought refuge in Jordan as a result of the conflict in their home country. This program operates in over 340 public schools in eight central and northern Jordanian governorates.
- The Department of State supports Caritas Jordan to enable at least 2,900 girls and boys to access education opportunities by providing evening and weekend remedial and catch-up courses.
- The Department of State provides funding for child and youth programming at UNICEF’s 128 Makani (My Space) centers across Jordan. Services include informal education classes for out of school children as well as remedial education for refugee and Jordanian children who need additional support. Many centers also provide assistance to address the specific needs of young refugee women.
- Regionally, the Department of State runs TechGirls an educational initiative for teen girls across the Middle East and North Africa region. Each summer, 27 young women (ages 15-17) from nine countries in the region travel to the U.S. for three weeks of intensive hands-on skill development in technology-based fields, site visits, job shadowing, and cultural activities.
- Since 2000, USAID commitments in the West Bank/Gaza have gone toward the construction and renovation of classrooms in girls’ schools; training for female teachers and principals; provision of higher education scholarships to female students; and renovation of computer labs and libraries in girls’ schools. These projects benefited more than 235,000 female students during this time. Additionally, the U.S. Government assisted in repairing paved paths between Bedouin villages and schools, increasing student’s access to quality education at a local girls’ school.
- In the next year, the Department of State—through the Global Women, Peace and Security and the Gender Based Violence Emergency Response and Protection Initiatives—will undertake a new $1,000,000 effort in one or more of Syria’s neighboring countries impacted by the Syrian refugee crisis to help prevent and respond to early and forced marriage. Programmatic efforts will focus on mobilizing caregivers, religious leaders, and community stakeholders to increase understanding of the benefits of delaying marriage for both girls and communities and address the perception that early and forced marriage is a way to protect girls. It will also focus on supporting civil society organizations and others working on the protection of at-risk girls and the provision of services to married girls, as well as programs that underscore the value of continuing access to education for girls through the secondary level.
Today’s announcement underscores the work Jordan and the United States are collaborating on to further girls’ education initiatives. Since the launch of Let Girls Learn, First Lady Michelle Obama has traveled around the world engaging with governments, civil society, private sector, and adolescent girls themselves on the importance of education, bringing attention and resources to addressing the challenges too many girls face in completing their education. When a girl receives a quality education, she is more likely to earn a decent living, raise a healthy, educated family, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family, and her community. The United States commends Jordan for its efforts to ensure equitable access to education and give Jordanian and Syrian young women the tools they need for a better future.