The government signed a $265 million additional financing agreement with the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional arm, for the ongoing Secondary Education Quality and Access Enhancement Project.
The financing will help annually 4.5 million poor rural children in 215 upazilas across the country to continue secondary level education. With this additional financing, the project will continue to provide poverty-targeted stipends and tuition to poor students. It will give incentives to students, teachers and schools to increase enrollment and retention in secondary level education. It will also scale up activities within 125 upazilas where the project is being implemented and expand in 90 more upazilas to improve secondary education quality and systematically monitor learning outcomes and ensure greater accountability at school level. “Secondary education plays a critical role in creating opportunity for the youth and propelling growth for the nation.
Despite laudable success in achieving gender parity in school enrolment, the high rate of drop out and quality of education remains a concern”, said Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh. “The additional financing will continue to ensure that rural poor children are not left out of the secondary school system, and it will enhance teacher and student performance.” The Secondary Education Quality and Access Enhancement Project started in 2008 and provided targeted stipends and tuition to 1.8 million disadvantaged children. The share of poor children in total secondary enrolment rose to 38 % in 2012, up from 30% in 2008.
The project will continue to benefit poor students, teachers, and school management committees as well as improve the quality of education with a special emphasis on mathematics, English language, and reading habits. “The project reflects the country’s commitment to enhance opportunities for disadvantaged children, bringing them into the productive force so they can play an active role in the country’s economic future,” said Mr. Mohammad Mejbahuddin, Secretary, Economic Relations Division, government of Bangladesh. “Equally important, the project helps these children to nurture essential skills to lift themselves out of poverty.”
The agreement was signed by Mohammad Mejbahuddin, Secretary, Economic Relations Division on behalf of the government of Bangladesh, and Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director on Wednesday. Since the early 1990s, the World Bank has been supporting the government to improve secondary education and provide it to poor children, particularly girls.
The World Bank is the largest external funder in the education sector in Bangladesh. Currently the World Bank’s commitment stands at $1.1 billion in primary, secondary, tertiary, and vocational levels as well as support to out-of school-children. The credit from IDA has 40 years to maturity, including a 10-year grace period with a service charge of 0.75%.