The Department of State established the Overseas Schools Advisory Council (OSAC) in 1967 to seek the advice of American leaders from the business, foundation, and educational communities in pursuing the goal of assuring quality education for American children attending schools overseas. Leading American business firms that are members of OSAC are engaged in helping bring educational excellence to American children attending schools overseas.
OSAC encourages corporate and foundation participation in support of its principal objectives: 1) providing advice on policy and sources of financial and manpower support for overseas schools; 2) helping overseas schools become centers of excellence in education; and 3) helping make service abroad more attractive to American citizens with school-age children, both in the business community and in the federal government. The Council encourages U.S. firms, foundations, and individuals to provide both financial and in-kind assistance directly to Department-assisted overseas schools. In addition, the Council has provided materials to assist these schools in their own fund-raising activities. Last year Department-assisted overseas schools generated over $12 million in such assistance from United States, host and third-country sources.
Through generous corporate and foundation support and with administrative assistance that the National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation provides, OSAC has undertaken an ambitious program for improving educational opportunities abroad. The Council's Educational Assistance Program provides grant awards totaling approximately $150,000 annually for educational projects that ultimately reach over 116,000 students in 135 countries.
To provide the widest possible benefit, the Council makes awards to regional associations of overseas schools rather than individual institutions. The Council rates proposed projects on the basis of their potential benefit to other schools in the region and around the world, the number of students and teachers that will benefit, and the facility with which the project can be replicated in the other regions.
To date, the Educational Assistance Program has funded 21 projects totaling approximately $3.4 million. The program has provided an array of videotapes, handbooks, study guides, student and teacher manuals, transparencies, computer software, lesson plans, and instructional packages. During the first 12 years of the program, OSAC projects concentrated on faculty and staff training, enhancing the skills of school board members, developing and updating educational curriculum, developing programs for students with special needs, whether learning disabled or gifted, and helping students develop leadership skills.
Although OSAC has continued to fund projects in these categories, the Council is placing increasing emphasis on projects that support and increase the use of technology, and is requiring that all project proposals include a technology component. The objective of this policy is to aide all Department-assisted overseas schools in incorporating educational technologies (computers, CD-ROM, multimedia and telecommunications) into the educational process in order to prepare their students for the information age.
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