As the U.S. Ambassador to Algeria, I have the privilege to observe firsthand the clear priority that the Algerian people place on education. In my view, the importance that Algerians and Americans attach to education is an important bond between our two peoples. Education has been the key to the American dream and it also has been key to Algeria’s development as an independent nation. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Today marks the opening of the 16th annual International Education Week, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education that celebrates the benefits of international education and exchanges worldwide. It is an opportunity to highlight U.S. interest in working with Algeria to bolster international education, whether in English language and technical and scientific expertise, or more fully connecting to the global academic and research community, to foster a brighter and more prosperous future for both of our countries.
This year’s International Education Week theme — “Access for All” — is particularly appropriate for Algeria. Studying abroad—in the United States or elsewhere— can help position young Algerians to develop the skills and competencies necessary to succeed in the globalized economy of the 21stcentury. As Algeria seeks to diversify its economy, English language education in particular can play a pivotal role, given that English is the global language of business, trade, and tourism. Beyond the potential economic opportunities that come from international education, Algerian students studying in the United States gain a broadened perspective and understanding of cultural diversity that enable them to cross socio-economic, cultural, political, religious borders—and act as ambassadors of Algeria to their American peers. Exchanges between our two education systems will lead not only to better understanding and ties between our two great countries, but closer relations as both the United States and Algeria work in partnership to address the challenges of the modern world.
This week at the U.S. Embassy, we will shine a spotlight on international education by holding chats on our U.S. Embassy Facebook page about studying in the United States and life as a student at an American university, releasing a video highlighting our exchange program alumni and their experiences, and holding activities in our Embassy’s Information Resource Center (IRC) about education and student life in the United States. We also urge all interested Algerians to participate in our International Student Virtual College Fair, where Algerian students can directly interact online with more than 125 U.S. universities. Please join the Fair at https://goo.gl/J1ehVk on November 18.
The U.S. Embassy’s work on education extends far beyond this one week. We partner with the Algerian government and people throughout the year to support international education and, in particular, English education. Through our Access and Access Plus programs, hundreds of Algerian youth receive two years of free English language instruction at 23 schools in cities throughout Algeria. We work to support Algeria’s English language education programs through our English Language Fellows, who are specialists from the United States in English-language teaching methods, and groups of exchange program alumni like the Algerian English Language Teachers’ Training (AELTT), which brings together exchange program alumni. These are just two of the many U.S. Embassy programs that help train and provide resources to Algeria’s English teachers. Through the Embassy, the U.S. government sponsors 46 exchange programs annually that send over 338 Algerians each year to the United States for education and training, ranging from the Fulbright Student Program, which offers Algerian students a scholarship to earn a master’s degree at a U.S. University, to the Algerian Youth Leadership Program (AYLP), which sends Algerian high school students to the United States for three weeks of cultural exchange and leadership training. Finally, through our EducationUSA advising office, we provide accurate, comprehensive, and current information to Algerian students hoping to study in the United States.
While celebrating International Education week, I hope that we can also look to the future for new areas of support, collaboration, and partnership between our two countries’ education systems. The United States of America is committed to working with the people and Government of Algeria to secure a bright future for our two countries.