WASHINGTON, April 18, 2019 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today an additional financing component in the amount of EUR 90 Million to continue its support to modernized and well-equipped schools, and improved student learning in Belarus, through its Education Modernization Project.
With the additional financing, the project will be scaled-up to help a total of 65,000 schoolchildren from small towns and villages across Belarus to study in rehabilitated schools with new laboratory equipment. Moreover, innovative centers on science education will be set up in selected schools to promote collaborative learning and science education.
“When people talk of regional development, they often forget that education is one of the best local investments available,” says Alex Kremer, World Bank Country Manager for Belarus. “This project will help boost the learning of rural children because a kid’s education shouldn’t depend on where they are born.”
The project will also help Belarus measure how well children are learning. With the World Bank’s support, in 2018 the country participated in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for the first time in its history. This additional financing will enable Belarus to take part in PISA 2021 and 2024 and provide for more comprehensive analysis of the testing results.
A national education management information system (EMIS), currently in preparation as part of the original project, will be expanded to all levels of the education system, making it possible to track graduates in their later careers and work out the impact of different educational programs.
“While basic statistics on schooling are available in Belarus, there is not much information on students’ learning outcomes. Thus, for human capital growth it is crucially important to ensure that schooling translates into learning in Belarus,” says Tigran Shmis, World Bank Senior Education Specialist.
Prior investments and support to educational programs are already showing strong results. Belarus used a World Bank Institutional Development Fund (IDF) grant to try out per-student financing (PSF) for schools in 2015. With PSF, each school’s budget and staffing should be based on the number of children so that money will go where it is most needed. Given the experiment’s success, the Government has rolled out PSF nationwide in all general secondary schools since 2019, currently expanding PSF to preschool institutions.
Since the Republic of Belarus joined the World Bank in 1992, lending commitments to the country have totaled US $1.7 billion. In addition, grant financing totaling US $31 million has been provided, including to programs involving civil society partners. The active investment lending portfolio financed by the World Bank in Belarus includes eight operations totaling US $790 million.