WB approves $510m for improving secondary education system

FE Report | Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The World Bank (WB) will provide $510 million to help improve the secondary education system and student performance in Bangladesh.
The concessional credit was approved by the WB Board at its headquarters in Washington DC on Monday, said a WB press statement.
The financing will be available under the 'Transforming Secondary Education for Results programme' which aims to benefit 13 million students in grade 6-12.
The programme would help enhance quality of teaching and learning as well as improve access and retention of students, especially girls and children from poor households, according to the statement.
To improve quality of education, the programme will support modernisation of curriculum and ensure professional development, management, and accountability of teachers.
It will also support learning assessments and reform examinations, it mentioned.
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's concessional lending arm.
The credits are interest-free and repayable in 38 years, including a six-year grace period, and carry a service charge of 0.75 per cent, according to the press statement.
"In 1993, the World Bank started supporting the secondary education sector through an innovative and a globally renowned stipend project that dramatically increased girls' enrollment," the statement said, quoting the World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan.
"Today, Bangladesh is among a few low and low middle-income countries to achieve gender parity in secondary education. The next challenge is to improve quality of education and to ensure that poor children, both boys and girls, complete grade 12," Mr Qimiao Fan was also quoted as saying.
Mentioning that the secondary education sector in Bangladesh faces several challenges, it said less than 70 per cent children in primary schools continue to secondary level, and below 60 per cent complete grade 10.
Besides, many students fare below the required standard in key subjects like Mathematics, Bangla and English, according to the WB.
Citing example, it said in 2015 nearly half of grade-8 students performed poorly in mathematics.
The current curriculum does not adequately focus on building problem solving skills, it mentioned, adding compared to regional and international standard, Bangladesh has a low level of public investment in education.
To increase school completion rates, especially for girls and poor children, the programme will support stipends and school grants, according to the WB.
Moreover, it will pilot an adolescent girls' programme to motivate girls to complete schooling, which will include financial incentives for poor female students in grades 9-12 and adolescent health topics in the curriculum. It will also build separate toilets for girl students.
"The rural schools often suffer from a shortage of qualified teachers, particularly in English, mathematics, and science subjects," the statement said, quoting World Bank Co-Team Leader for the project Saurav Dev Bhatta.
He was also quoted as saying: "The programme will help attract, develop, and retain qualified teachers. It will recruit and provide pre-deployment training to the new teachers."
The programme will support the government's Secondary Education Development Programme and it will implement a system of accountability for teachers as well as for school management committees.
The programme also has a technical assistance facility, which is partially supported by a grant from the Global Financing Facility, said the statement.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence.
Since then the World Bank has committed over $26 billion interest-free credits to Bangladesh, it said, adding that Bangladesh has been the largest recipient of the World Bank's interest-free credits in recent years.

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