Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-The Asian Development Bank has granted $120 million additional loan to improve the quality and reach of primary education in Bangladesh.

ADB and the Bangladesh signed an agreement for a $120 million loan in additional funding for a 6-year government-led program to improve the quality and reach of primary education in Bangladesh, said a press statement of the ADB released on June 8.

ADB’s original financing was a $320 million loan, and in 2011 it agreed to make more funds available if implementation was successful, the press statement added.

This was confirmed by a joint midterm review by the Bangladesh government and its development partners completed in September 2014, which called for a greater focus on results.

The assistance will be complemented by additional cofinancing from the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education.

Other development partners are also considering additional financing.

Bangladesh will provide the remaining $1.7 billion for the country’s $9.8 billion Third Primary Education Development Program (PEDP-3), launched in 2011 with the support of nine development partners.

“This additional funding will help deepen ongoing reforms, scale up successful interventions, and complete already scaled-up activities,” said Country Director Kazuhiko Higuchi.

“The overall program seeks to provide quality education for all Bangladeshi children through an efficient, inclusive, and equitable primary education system.”

The additional funds are expected to raise key performance indicators relating to student achievement, access and efficiency in Bangladesh, which has one of the largest primary school systems in the world with over 19.5 million children enrolled in about 106,000 primary schools.

The midterm review notes the program has increased enrollment and reduced dropout rates across the country, but this trend is lower among disadvantaged groups such as children from small ethnic communities, children living in slums, and children living with disabilities.

Disparities between schools, and between rich and poor children, still persist.

To deliver an efficient, inclusive, and equitable primary education system, as well as relevant child-friendly learning to Bangladeshi children through Grade 5, the program aims to continue building the capacity of both students and teachers, reduce disparities in access to education, decentralise oversight of the primary education system, and improve program planning and management.

Mohammad Mejbahuddin, senior secretary of the Economic Relations Division (ERD); and Kazuhiko Higuchi, the country director for ADB’s Bangladesh Resident Mission, signed the agreement on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB respectively at a ceremony at ERD in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar of Dhaka.

The loan from ADB’s Special Funds resources has a 25-year maturity.

The Ministry of Primary and Mass Education is the executing agency of the project, to be completed by the end of June 2017.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.