:: Peoples Time Online ::
The World Bank (WB) will provide $520 million as loans and grants for a programme to improve the secondary education system and student performance in Bangladesh.
Out of the amount, the Washington-based lending agency will provide $510 million in loan while the rest $10 million as grants, said an official at the Economic Relations Division (ERD).
The WB-funded ‘Transforming Secondary Education for Results’ (TSER) programme will benefit 13 million students from grade 6 to 12.
The programme will enhance quality of teaching and learning as well as improve access and retention of students, especially girls and children from poor households.
To improve quality of education, the programme will support modernization of curriculum and ensure professional development, management, and accountability of teachers. It will also support learning assessments and reform examinations.
The ERD official told BSS that the loan and grant agreements will be signed on August 13 at the NEC-2 Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
ERD Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam and World Bank Country Director Qimiao Fan are expected to sign the agreements on behalf of their respective sides.
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional lending arm. The credit is interest-free and repayable in 38 years, including a six-year grace period, and it carries a service charge of 0.75 percent.
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. 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.
According to the World Bank, the secondary education sector faces several challenges. Less than 70 percent children in primary schools continue to secondary level, and below 60 percent complete grade 10. Further, many students fare below the required standard in key subjects like Mathematics, Bangla and English.
For instance, in 2015, nearly half of grade 8 students performed poorly in mathematics. The current curriculum does not adequately focus on building problem solving skills. Compared to regional and international standards, the country has a low level of public investment in education.
To increase school completion rates, especially for girls and poor students, the program will support stipends and school grants. Besides, it will pilot an adolescent girls’ program to motivate girls to remain in schools. This will include financial incentives for female students in grades 9-12 from poor areas and adolescent health topics in the curriculum. It will also build separate toilets for girl students.
The TSER program will support the government’s Secondary Education Development Program. It will implement a system of accountability for teachers as well as for school management committees. The program also has a technical assistance facility, which is partially supported by a grant from the Global Financing Facility.