The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a new education policy Thursday that recognizes the important role of non-governmental groups, including faith-based and private organizations, to provide education to children affected by crisis and conflict.
According to a press release, USAID states one out of every five children, and young people ages 5-17 around the world are not being educated.
The agency says it works with partners in some 50 countries to provide taxpayer aid to “help children and youth gain access to the education and skills they need to be productive members of society.”
“This work advances U.S. foreign policy goals, promotes U.S. and international security, and helps accelerate economic growth at home and abroad,” the agency says.
Though several of the priorities of the policy, i.e., its focus on workforce development and social and emotional learning, are sharply opposed by many conservative and libertarian grassroots parent groups within the United States’ education systems, American faith leaders are encouraged that faith-based organizations will now be able to receive taxpayer-funded aid to help in educating impoverished children.
“Expanding the USAID Education Policy to include non-state entities, like faith-based schools and organizations, is essential in safeguarding education systems for the world’s most impoverished youth,” said J. Kenneth Blackwell, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. “These children, living in increasingly fragile environments tainted with violent conflict, natural disasters, and humanitarian crises, would often not have access to education if not for the work of missionaries and faith-based providers already in their communities.”
Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, legal advisor with The Catholic Association Foundation, said the new policy means taxpayer-funded aid “will go even farther by including … faith-based organizations, that are already on the front-lines of educating impoverished youth — with attention to girls as well as boys — around the world.”
Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, also noted the Trump administration is “delivering a real solution to ensure our annual taxpayer-funded educational aid for developing countries makes it to those who need it most – children.”
“In the midst of a learning crisis, where one in five children around the world are out of school, partnering with front-line organizations like faith-based missionaries and schools is essential in guaranteeing that resources reach the most vulnerable among us,” Perkins added.