WASHINGTON, May 18, 2018— The World Bank Board of Directors approved today a US$100 million investment loan to support the Tunisian government's efforts to improve the quality of primary education and expand access to preschool in disadvantaged regions. The investment will support improving the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders, and, in targeted districts, will expand access to preschool and enhance the primary school environment. The new project is expected to benefit over one million children.
The Strengthening Foundations for Learning Project was designed to support the government’s strategic objectives of improving learning in basic education and expanding access to preprimary education, as laid out in the Ministry of Education’s five-year education strategic plan (2016-2020).
Investment in high-quality early childhood education is one of the most cost-efficient investments in human capital and has been linked to significant improvement in primary education grade promotion and reduction in repetition and dropout rates. The impact of these programs is even greater for the most vulnerable families.
The project also aims to empower school leaders and instructional staff to work collaboratively to raise student achievement and other dimensions of school quality. The project will also strengthen the Ministry’s capacity to assess learning in primary schools for the purposes of identification and remediation of low performing schools and at-risk students—an essential starting point for improving education systems and making sure no one is left behind.
“By investing in education, Tunisia is investing in the future”, said. Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for the Maghreb. “Quality basic education is a way of giving children the opportunity to become active participants in the transformation of the societies in which they live, and to contribute to future growth and prosperity”.
The direct project beneficiaries include an estimated 1,144,000 students attending public preschools and primary schools; 64,000 primary school teachers who will benefit from improved opportunities for professional development; 5,360 primary school directors and deputy directors; 615 pedagogical inspectors; and 850 pedagogical counselors.
“Tunisia has successfully addressed issues of access to schooling, having achieved universal primary education and gender parity more than two decades ago, but the quality of education has suffered and students need to be supported in developing strong foundational skills,” said Michael Drabble, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and co-Task Team Leader of the project. “Teachers need access to relevant and well-designed professional development programs to help them adapt new instructional methods to boost learning in the classroom. Well-prepared and committed school leaders are needed to turn around poor performing schools,” added Samira Halabi, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and co-Task Team Leader of the project.