Washington, December 20, 2013 – The World Bank has approved new funding that will help Sao Tome and Principe train its primary school teachers, about 40 percent of whom are women. The aim is to significantly raise the quality of primary education in this island nation, which has been registering strong economic growth over the past decade, but continues to face the effects of high poverty and vulnerability.
Across the past decade, Sao Tome and Principe has enrolled greater numbers of children in primary school, and has achieved universal primary education. However, the quality of primary education in the country has suffered because there are not enough trained teachers.
Now in its second phase, the Quality Education for All Project will set up a training framework for teachers and improve overall human resource management in education. Going forward, the project is funded by the new International Development Agency (IDA*) grant of US$ 0.9 million, alongside a US$1.1 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education, bringing total funding to $US2 million.
“There is strong evidence in this country that households headed by an adult who has formal basic education are less likely to be poor, compared to those who don’t have it,” said Laurence Clarke, World Bank Country Director for Sao Tome and Principe. “We are happy to help bridge this gap and ensure that the children of today are learning the basic skills that are so important for a brighter future.”
About 60 percent of the country’s primary school teachers are unqualified. The project will help set up a unified system of training and certification for primary teachers, regardless of where they work. It will also address management issues in schools, the most critical of which is the time that teachers spend teaching. Of the average 3.5 hours a day that teachers are in school, even fewer hours are spent in class teaching.
“What we aim to do through this project is to increase the number of qualified teachers, establish a training framework that emphasizes teacher competencies, make sure that teachers’ time is more efficiently used, and set up a system that measures how much children are learning in school,” said Geraldo Joao Martins, World Bank Task Team Leader for the project.
* 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.