The Office of Overseas Schools (OS) coordinates and administers the Department of State’s Overseas Schools Assistance Program. The 197 overseas schools that OS is assisting during the 2010-2011 school year are private, independent and non-profit institutions. Of the approximately 123,000 students enrolled in these schools, 27 percent are U.S. citizens, 29 percent are host-country nationals, and 44 percent are third-country nationals.

Nearly half of the professional staff and the majority of the directors of these schools are U.S. citizens. The primary language of instruction is English, and most of the schools are accredited through U.S. educational accrediting associations. The schools provide a diverse international environment that affords students an unparalleled opportunity to learn first-hand about other countries, peoples, and cultures. In addition, these schools offer the United States the opportunity to showcase the best in American educational practices; demonstrate a dedication to the democratic values of fairness, equity and justice; and promote mutual understanding. OS' role in establishing and supporting these schools and their educational programs underscores the Department’s vital concern with the quality of the schools’ educational programs.

The primary goal of the OS program is to promote quality educational opportunities in international schools for dependents of American citizens carrying out programs and interests of the U.S. Government abroad. To achieve this goal, OS pursues the following objectives:

  • Promote the development of a highly trained, qualified teaching staff in each overseas school.
  • Promote competent management that establishes, supports, and maintains the stated mission of the school.
  • Encourage continuous evaluation of education programs.
  • Promote, support and maintain current U.S. educational practices and procedures.
  • Promote development of financial resources to assure quality educational opportunities for school-age dependents of U.S. Government employees overseas.
  • Assess the quality of educational opportunities for dependents at U.S. missions overseas and where there are no Department-assisted schools, seek to provide supplementary programs.
  • Assist parents in providing adequate educational opportunities for their children where such opportunities are deficient.

A secondary goal is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries by demonstrating American educational ideas, principles, and methods. OS has established the following objectives to achieve this goal:

  • Promote understanding of U.S. educational philosophy and practice among host- and third-country teachers.
  • Encourage U.S. school systems to exchange faculty and educational programs with overseas schools.
  • Demonstrate American educational methods and teaching practices to the host-country community.

The Office of Overseas Schools has a professional staff which includes a director and six regional education officers (REOs). REO responsibilities require a broad range of training, experience and contacts in the field of education in the United States and abroad. They work closely with Department-assisted schools and any schools that are attended by U.S. Government dependents. They maintain close liaison with U.S. colleges and universities, school systems, professional organizations, and relevant government offices. They also work closely with U.S. Government employees assigned overseas and their families and with Department of State organizations including the regional bureaus, the Office of Allowances, the Family Liaison Office, and the Employee Consultation Service. The activities of the Office of Overseas Schools are discussed in the following pages.

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