Since 1967, leading American business firms have helped bring educational excellence to American children attending schools overseas through the Overseas Schools Advisory Council (OSAC). The Department of State established OSAC 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 Department-assisted schools overseas, which are known as American overseas schools. OSAC is one of the longest standing advisory committees in the Federal Government and is subject to review and renewal every two years under the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
OSAC is comprised of senior executives from U.S. corporations and businesses and is chaired by Ms. Katherine E. Thompson, Director, Global Mobility, Citi.
OSAC encourages U.S. corporate and foundation participation to support its principal objectives. These include: 1) providing advice on policy and sources of financial and personnel support for American overseas schools; 2) helping these 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 U.S. Government.
OSAC also encourages U.S. firms, foundations, and individuals to provide both financial and in-kind assistance directly to American-sponsored overseas schools. In addition, the Council has provided materials to assist these schools in their own fund raising activities. Last year American overseas schools generated over $15 million in such assistance from U.S. and host and third country sources.
With 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, begun in 1983 and now in its 27th year, provides grant awards totaling approximately $150,000 annually for educational projects that ultimately reach approximately 137,000 students in 193 schools in 135 countries.
The Council makes awards to regional associations of overseas schools rather than individual institutions in order to provide the widest possible benefit. The Council rates proposed projects on the basis of their potential benefit to other overseas schools, the number of students and teachers that will benefit, and the facility with which the project can be replicated in the other overseas schools in all parts of the world.
To date, OSAC’s Educational Assistance Program has funded 131 projects totaling approximately $3.9 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 were concentrated on faculty and staff training, enhancing the skills of school board members, developing and updating educational curriculum, developing programs for handicapped and gifted and talented students, 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. This policy is intended to assist American-sponsored overseas schools incorporate educational technologies (computers, CD-ROM, multimedia and telecommunications) into the educational process to prepare their students for the information age.
OSAC meets semi-annually at the Department of State (January and June) to confer with top Department officials, select proposals for the Educational Assistance Program, review progress on development of previously selected proposals, and exchange views with noted U.S. educators. Between meetings, OSAC members volunteer their time and effort to inform the American corporate community about OSAC’s program to improve educational opportunities overseas for U.S.-citizen children and to enlist such firms in becoming members of the Council.