Washington: A project to improve access to, and quality of, basic education nationwide in Myanmar was approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. The project, financed by a US$100 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA), will be implemented over four school years.
The Inclusive Access and Quality Education (IAQE) project takes a national and a focused approach, covering all states and regions and supporting programs to reach out to schools across the country, while placing greater emphasis on social inclusion and support to conflict-affected areas. More than 70 percent of the financing will be channeled to Myanmar’s most disadvantaged townships, with a particular focus on the most under-performing schools and teachers within these townships.
The project builds on and extends the geographic scope of the work done under the ongoing Decentralizing Funding to Schools Project, supported by the World Bank since 2014. That project to date has reduced the burden of fees for the parents and guardians of more than 9 million students through direct funding to all Ministry of Education schools for their operations, and has provided stipends to more than 200,000 poor and disadvantaged students, helping them to stay enrolled through middle and high school.
At a nationwide level, however, there continues to be large gaps in educational attainment and access. About one-third of students at grade 3 level are unable to read fluently with comprehension or solve basic age-appropriate mathematical problems, and most students continue to drop out before the age of fourteen. Moreover, education outcomes are unequally distributed, and are particularly poor for children from disadvantaged social and economic backgrounds, minority ethnic groups, and in communities living in conflict-affected areas.
“Providing quality education for all will be critical for poverty reduction, fostering human capital, and building a more peaceful and prosperous future for the entire country,” said Gevorg Sargsyan, Acting World Bank Country Director for Myanmar. “It will be particularly important to reach children who have dropped out, migrant children and internally displaced children, and bring them back into school, which is why the new project puts a special emphasis on reaching the most marginalized children.”
The IAQE project will also support strengthening the efficiency of the education system, including through improved public financial and human resource management and technical support to the Ministry of Education, and will closely monitor implementation across the country.
In addition to the US$100 million IDA credit, the IAQE project will be supported through US$70 million from the Global Partnership for Education and US$10 million from the European Commission.