September 20, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram, Tessie San Martin, and Connie Veillette
MFAN is pleased to see that the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act (READ Act, PL 115-56), which was signed by President Trump as part of a Continuing Resolution and Hurricane Harvey relief supplemental, includes important reform elements that will promote greater country ownership and help increase accountability of U.S. foreign assistance programs related to basic education. This bipartisan legislation was sponsored by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and David Reichert (R-WA) in the House and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) in the Senate.
Specifically, the legislation calls for country ownership by requiring assistance, “be aligned with and support the national education plans and country development strategies of partner countries” and work to build the capacity of local actors. Furthermore, the bill states that the goal of these programs should be a path toward transition from assistance, a stated priority of USAID Administrator Mark Green.
The bill also embeds the accountability mechanisms of transparency, evaluation, and learning into basic education assistance. It requires that programs “be designed to achieve specific, measureable goals and objectives” and “be subject to rigorous monitoring and evaluation, including impact evaluations,” and that those results are made publicly available.
Additionally, MFAN is pleased to see the requirement that the President’s basic education strategy be drafted in consultation with Congress, relevant agencies, partner countries, and the development community, including a public comment period.
To ensure maximum alignment and leverage of development assistance, we recommend that the basic education strategy align with a much-needed overall U.S. Global Development Strategy. The bill appropriately seeks to bring coherence across the U.S. government on assistance for basic education programs through designating a Senior Coordinator for Basic Education at USAID, and we urge that this authority be implemented in a way so as not to weaken lines of authority or accountability for results at our lead development agency.
It is encouraging to see continued bipartisan support for foreign aid legislation that maintains a strong commitment to effectiveness principles. We thank the bill sponsors for their leadership.