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Obama wants Egyptian students to get more from college

Posted By Steve Peacock On 06/28/2013 @ 12:35 am In Front Page,Politics,U.S.,World | No Comments

President Obama wants to ensure all American adults obtain at least a year of college or career training while regaining America’s role as “world leader in college completion,” the U.S. Department of Education recently touted. The Obama administration then launched a new program to bring about such developments – in Egypt.

According to a U.S. Agency for International Development “concept paper” that WND obtained through routine database research, “Egypt now confronts a serious knowledge and skills deficit” that impedes its ability to compete globally.

U.S. taxpayers, some of whom this September will pay upwards of $45,000 annually for their own college educations, now face the additional burden of helping Egyptians make better use of their advanced degrees.

Those degrees are failing to produce adequate returns on their investments, USAID says, leading to “educated unemployment,” a phenomenon in which Egyptian college grads “are almost 10 times as likely to be unemployed than individuals with primary educations.”

USAID’s Higher Education Partnership Program hopes to bring together the government of Egypt, Egyptian institutions of higher learning and the private sector in a collaborative effort to meet the needs of this North African nation’s business community.

The U.S. has an interest in helping Egypt as it “transitions towards a democracy,” the document said.

The agency said the Egyptian education system – containing 35 universities and eight regional technical colleges consisting of 45 middle technical institutes – is the largest in the Middle East and North Africa. Egypt, however, has failed to invest “sufficient resources for these institutions to flourish as engines of knowledge transfer and creation.”

Existing institutions are struggling to “produce graduates with the skills employers seek, posing constraints for growth opportunities, particularly in high skilled economic sectors.”

USAID noted that the nation “is steeped in a tradition of education and scholarship,” pointing out that Egyptian scholars have made significant advancements in the sciences, engineering, mathematics and medicine dating back to “Pharaonic times and the Islamic Caliphate.”

Despite such an “impressive legacy,” Egypt currently lacks the infrastructure and labor force necessary “to transform the country into a vibrant center of innovation and economic prosperity.”

The agency issued a Request for Information, or RFI, to solicit feedback from contractors potentially interested in carrying out the endeavor, which could create up to 20 “university and technical college partnerships” focusing on a range of “shared priority areas” among private industry and the respective governments of Egypt and the United States.

The Obama administration in 2011 separately had been planning to provide technical assistance to Egypt to explore the creation of a nationwide system of community colleges. It remains unclear whether it ever carried out that initiative, as a thorough search of the FedBizOpps contractor database produced zero contract awards for the endeavor.

The following is a rundown of other recent U.S. foreign aid-related developments. The list is by no means exhaustive, but simply offers a snapshot of additional federal spending, both small and large.

AFRICA

The Bureau of the Public Debt at the U.S. Department of the Treasury is buying a 10-seat Toyota Land Cruiser for the U.S. African Development Foundation in the Liberian capital of Monrovia. Other than offering 14 pages of contract clauses and vehicle specifications, Treasury disclosed little else about this procurement.

Treasury separately is buying a Toyota Fortuner 4×4 for the foundation’s Malawi operations and a Toyota Land Cruiser for its Zambian facility.

KYRGYZSTAN

USAID is recruiting private-sector advisers for deployment to Kyrgyzstan, officially known as the Kyrgyz Republic, to help manage a $50 million portfolio of U.S.-funded development projects.

“Because of its proximity to South Asia and its potential to contribute to stability in nearby Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Kyrgyz Republic is of considerable geopolitical and strategic interest” to the U.S, the agency says in a Personal Contracting Services notice.

The base salary range for both the Senior Development transition specialist and the senior private sector development specialist is $84,697-$110,104.

MOZAMBIQUE

USAID will deploy an education specialist to Mozambique to help implement this southeast African nation’s new basic education program. The contractor annually will earn between $85,000 and $110,000.

Separately, USAID plans to build six rural health centers across Mozambique potentially costing $10 million. It also intends to construct three pharmaceutical warehouses costing upwards of $5 million each.

PACIFIC ISLANDS

USAID is launching the Pacific-American Climate Fund, a project to provide grants for endeavors whose aim is to “reduce long-term vulnerabilities associated with climate change and achieve sustainable climate-resilient development.”

Subject to the availability of funds, USAID expects to have a budget of about $24 million devoted to climate change adaptation efforts in island countries such as Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Samoa and Solomon Islands.

PAKISTAN

USAID is deploying to Islamabad a senior adviser for government-to-government direct assistance. An agency solicitation did not disclose further details about the position.

WORLDWIDE

The latest contract in USAID’s International Rule of Law Technical Assistance Services project has been awarded to Casals & Associates Inc., a subsidiary of government contracting giant DynCorp International.

The agency did not specify how or where Casals will provide services in the endeavor, which is based on the United Nations principle that “all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the state itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights law.”

Up to $500 million in Indefinite Quantity Contracts, or IQCs, could be given to Casals and other selected vendors over the next five years.


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