ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The World Bank has approved a $300 million loan to support the Punjab province in improving school participation, completion, and teaching-learning practices with a particular focus on low-performing districts.
Significant shortfalls persist in both school participation and student achievement, especially in the poorer districts of Punjab.
A statement of the Bank here on Saturday said third Punjab Education Sector Project will support interventions to provide students from the poorest households with financial resources and opportunities.
These will enable them to attend school at the primary and secondary levels.
The project will benefit nearly three million children in Punjab through a combination of interventions. These include: providing vouchers to attend a low-cost private school; expanding public-private partnerships to enable students to attend low-cost private schools; and providing stipends to girls to attend secondary schools.
One million out-of-school children in Punjab would also be brought into school through this project.
“Despite the gains in student learning and enrollment in Punjab, a lot more needs to be done to improve the education indicators in Punjab” says Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.
“This project will help the Government of Punjab to put a greater emphasis on the teacher learning and school participation. Central to achieving these outcomes is the focus on improving governance, management, and capacity in education”.
The project aims to ensure that teachers are provided strengthened support in the classroom in order to improve teaching and learning practices and lead to better learning outcomes.
It will strengthen the continuous professional development of teachers and support increased access to Early Childhood Education for children from 3-5 years of age.
“Early childhood education which leads to more children entering and staying in primary school is still nascent in the Punjab. Providing parents with early childhood classrooms with the relevant teaching and learning materials and appropriately trained teachers is critical given its impact on student participation and retention” says Scherezad Joya Monami Latif, Task Team Leader of the project in the statement.
“The project will support interventions to raise the quality of teaching and learning by improving the quality of early childhood education in schools and by strengthening the human resources management of teachers”.
This loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is a variable spread loan with a maturity of 18.5 years including a grace period of 4.5 years.