WASHINGTON, March 24, 2011 – The World Bank today approved a package of assistance worth US$400 million to help the Government of Pakistan improve the access, quality, and relevance of education at every level of education. The projects are designed to improve conditions for teaching, learning, and research for enhanced access, quality and relevance at the tertiary level across the country while continuing to increase enrollment rates and reduce gender and rural-urban disparities in primary education in Punjab and Sindh Provinces.
“Pakistan’s transition to a middle-income country in the global knowledge economy of the 21st century will depend critically on the country’s intellectual and human capital,” said Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “To achieve this objective, Pakistan needs to upscale its entire education system so it can produce skilled, innovative and enterprising graduates, as well as research and innovation capacity, capable of promoting dynamic economic development.”
A US$300 million equivalent Credit for the Tertiary Education Support Project will finance the Government’s tertiary education development program, and will leverage an estimated investment of approximately $1.7 billion in additional resources from the Government. The Government’s program seeks to address current weaknesses in tertiary education such as low and inequitable access, income and regional disparities, poor quality and relevance of programs, research performance, and weak governance. The Project will support the implementation of the Government’s Medium Term Development Program for tertiary education aimed at mitigating these weaknesses, while ensuring fiscal sustainability and effectiveness of expenditure in the tertiary education Sector.
In primary education, Pakistan has made significant gains in education in the past decade with net national primary school enrollment jumping 14 percentage points, from 42 to 56 percent between 2001 and 2007. Punjab has seen a 17 percentage point increase while enrollment in Sindh has increased by 10 percentage points. Despite these improvements, young Pakistanis are still the least likely school attendants in all South Asia with wide boy-girl and rural-urban disparities.
The additional financing for the Punjab Education Sector Project (US$50 million) will continue to build upon both projects’ success through attracting more children to school by providing free textbooks, stipends to secondary school girls, and subsidies to low cost private schools. Whereas, the additional financing for the Sindh Education Sector Reform Project (US$50million) targets improvements in service delivery and system performance by supporting Government efforts in three areas: (1) preparation of school-specific nonsalary budgets; (2) teacher rationalization across schools and the allocation of teaching posts to schools; and (3) expansion of district education management reforms.
The Punjab and Sindh Education projects also support improvements in school facilities and encourage merit and need-based teacher recruitment. These are accompanied by initiatives to strengthen professional development for teachers, improve monitoring and evaluation (including examination and assessment systems), build capacity of school management councils and the district education management system, and improve financial management and procurement systems.
“The tertiary education project will utilize a results-based financing modality in which funding is provided based on demonstrable improvements and realization of development goals,” said Amit Dar, South Asia Education Sector Manager. “We anticipate that around 1.2 million students and approximately 20,000 academic staff in 73 public and 24 private universities and about 800 affiliated colleges across the country will benefit from specific interventions under the project. The additional financing in Punjab and Sindh will lead to further critical improvements in access and quality at the basic education level in these provinces”
The credits for the Punjab and Sindh Education projects are from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, and carry a 0.75 percent service fee, a 10-year grace period, and a maturity of 35 years.
For the Tertiary Education Project, US$110 million of the IDA credit will carry a 0.75 percent service charge fee, maximum commitment charge at 0.5 percent, a 10-year grace period, and a maturity of 35 years. US$190 million of the IDA credit will also include a fixed interest charge of 3.20 percent.