Washington, US (BBN) – The World Bank has approved $510 million financing to improve the secondary education system and student performance in Bangladesh.
The Transforming Secondary Education for Results program will benefit 13 million students in grade 6-12, said a press statement of the World Bank dated December 18.
The program 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 program will support modernisation of curriculum and ensure professional development, management, and accountability of teachers.
It will also support learning assessments and reform examinations.
“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,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
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 standard, the country has a low level of public investment in education.
To increase school completion rates, especially for girls and poor children, the program will support stipends and school grants.
Further, it will pilot an adolescent girls’ program to motivate girls to complete schooling.
This 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,” said Saurav Dev Bhatta, World Bank Co-Team Leader for the project.
“The program will help attract, develop, and retain qualified teachers. It will recruit and provide pre-deployment training to the new teachers.”
The 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.
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 6-year grace period, and carry a service charge of 0.75 percent.
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. In recent years, Bangladesh has been the largest recipient of the World Bank’s interest-free credits.