WASHINGTON, December 2, 2013 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved major financing for Ethiopia to transform the quality of its teaching and learning for more than 21 million children in primary and secondary schools across the country. The impact of such a large-scale project is expected to be transformational as the fast-growing country continues to invest heavily in its children.
Ethiopia’s primary school enrollment rate has tripled in recent years, from 25 percent in 1996/97 to 88 percent in 2009/10. It is also one of the few countries in Africa that implements National Learning Assessments for specific grades at four-year intervals. Test results have shown that quality is a serious issue, with 55 percent of Grade 12 students lacking basic competency in science, mathematics and English.
“While Ethiopia is still working to bring every child into school, it is very encouraging that so much attention is being paid right now both to measure and improve the quality of education in the country,” said Guang Zhe Chen, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia. “As with all modern economies, better-quality education is necessary to create a skilled labor force which is a prerequisite for Ethiopia to sustain its recent rapid economic growth and to realize its goal of becoming a middle income country.”
The Ethiopia General Education Quality Improvement Project, which is supervised by the World Bank, will receive coordinated financing of US$550 million from many partners. Of this, US$130 million is an IDA* credit, while US$100 million is a Global Partnership for Education grant. Bilateral contributors include the UK’s DfID (US$185 million), Finland (US$27 million), USAID (US$20 million), and Italy (US$10 million).
The project will help students gain proficiency in mathematics, the sciences and languages and aims to improve learning conditions. It will work towards these goals by improving the curriculum, making more textbooks available, and strengthening the National Learning Assessment and school inspection systems. It also includes programs for teacher development, support to school management through school improvement plans, school grants, and the use of ICTs to improve teaching and learning.
“A significant dimension of this nationwide project is that girls and women will greatly benefit from it,” said Tazeen Fasih, World Bank Task Team Leader for the Project. “Of the millions of students whose needs will be addressed through the project, over half are girls; and a targeted 60 percent of the teachers benefitting from training are women.”
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing zero-interest loans and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 82 poorest countries, 40 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $16 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.