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Dushanbe, Tajikistan, May 10, 2011 – Mr. Jeffrey Lehrer, Country Director for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Tajikistan and Mr. Abdujabbor Rahmonov, Minister of Education of the Republic of Tajikistan, signed a letter of cooperation signaling their intention to collaborate on a three-year School Dropout Prevention Pilot (SDPP) program. The SDPP aims to prevent children from dropping out of school and will be implemented in Khatlon Oblast under the National Education Strategy. The SDPP will complement ongoing US government efforts to help the Ministry of Education expand access to quality primary and secondary education in Tajikistan. Cambodia, India, and Timor Leste will also participate in the SDPP.

During the signing ceremony, Mr. Lehrer noted: “USAID and the Ministry agree that we must prevent school children in Tajikistan from dropping out of school.  Half of the population of Tajikistan is younger than 19. They should be well educated and active citizens to contribute to their country’s economic growth”.

The Ministry’s Education Management Information System indicates the highest dropout rates occur in grades nine and ten. Students drop out of school for a variety of economic, social, and cultural reasons, leading to increasing numbers of under-educated and unemployable youth. The program will identify children at greatest risk for dropping out, and work with school administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the community at large to identify, implement and evaluate measures to keep those children in school. USAID will work with the Ministry of Education through the life of the project to design, implement, and determine the effectiveness of models for preventing dropout among school children in Tajikistan.

The USAID School Dropout Prevention Pilot program is one of the many assistance projects supported by the American people in Tajikistan through the United States Agency for International Development.  Since 1992 the American people, through the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, have provided approximately $900 million in programs that support Tajikistan’s democratic institutions, health care, education, and economic growth.

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