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Foreigners awarded Obama scholarships

Written on Saturday, September 8, 2012 by

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Indonesian citizens will continue to pursue masters and Ph.D. programs courtesy of U.S. taxpayers— and even though students primarily will study in U.S. universities, the Obama administration awarded a contract to an Indonesian organization to coordinate this endeavor.

The second phase of what is known as the Program to Extend Scholarships and Training to Achieve Sustainable Impacts, or PRESTASI II, will enable about 100 “emerging Indonesian leaders” to pursue advanced degrees and other training.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on Sept. 5 awarded an estimated $20 million contract to the Jakarta-based Indonesian International Educational Foundation. IIEF describes itself as “the largest and most experience non-profit private educational exchange organization in the world.”

Earlier this year USAID launched what it characterized as a competitive search for “qualified local Indonesian non-governmental organizations.” In recent weeks it belatedly disclosed that it already had specific Indonesian contractors in mind.

In a Justification & Approval, or J&A, document that Patriot Update discovered during routine database research, USAID revealed that all along it had a “reasonable expectation” of awarding contracts either to IIEF, the American Indonesian Exchange Foundation, or to the Putera Sampoerna Foundation.

“These organizations currently administer large scholarship programs for advanced degrees in the U.S., and have the capacity to respond to the needs of the requirements of PRESTASI II,” USAID said in the J&A.

The awarding of contracts to companies and organizations located in aid-recipient countries has become a hallmark of the Obama administration’s international aid-reform efforts.

Indeed, Obama in 2010 signed a Presidential Policy Directive, or PPD, on U.S. Global Development Policy, reflecting the federal government’s support of principles espoused by the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the subsequent Accra Agenda for Action.

Having signed on to those agreements under the Bush administration—and subsequently reinforced under Obama—the U.S. supports the notion that foreign aid contracts must, in sum, simultaneously help to strengthen the economies of recipient nations, even if it means excluding U.S. contractor participation.

The overall purpose of the PPD was to “Elevate development as a central pillar of our national security policy, equal to diplomacy and defense, and build and integrate the capabilities that can advance our interests,” according to a White House fact sheet.

The Obama administration’s incorporation of foreign aid into its national security strategy “builds on and formalizes many core tenets of the development agenda set in place by recent administrations, while embracing new priorities and approaches that respond to the challenges we now confront.”

PRESTASI II will be carried out over the next five years—one of several education projects that the U.S. currently supports in Indonesia.

USAID separately is pouring an additional $90 million into public as well as Islamic schools through a project known as Prioritizing Reform, Innovation and Opportunities for Reaching Indonesia’s Teachers, Administrators, and Students, or PRIORITAS—an endeavor preceded by a similar program valued at about $167 million under President Bush.

The agency earlier this year also launched its Higher Education Leadership and Management, or HELM, program, which planned to infuse another $20 million over five years “to support Indonesia’s efforts to develop world-class higher education institutions and prepare students to be successful leaders.”

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