WASHINGTON, April 2, 2015—The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$50 million International Development Association (IDA)* grant to increase access to pre-school and secondary education in the poorest areas of Burkina Faso. It will also go towards improving the quality of teaching and learning in the country focusing on mathematics, natural and computer sciences, as well as languages.
Today’s financing supports the Burkina Faso Education Access and Quality Improvement Project that will contribute to improving education and learning as well as strengthening education institutions.
“This project will help improve the education and skills of the poorest communities in the country and increase employment opportunities to help reduce poverty and increase living standards for everyone,” said Mercy Tembon, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso’s diverse geographic conditions, dispersed population, and isolated rural areas make it extremely difficult to access early childhood development (ECD) programs. The quality of teachers and learning resources is also lagging with a ratio of 107 students to one teacher—compared to an international best practice student-teacher ratio of 15:1. The project will develop and deliver an Interactive Audio Instruction (IAI) program to provide early childhood education to 3-4 year olds. The low-cost, relative ease of delivery to remote areas, and IAI’s effectiveness in delivering high-quality content to a large number of children will help expand early childhood education in Burkina Faso.
“Entry into secondary education is also challenging as well as unequal and has suffered from relative neglect and lack of investment,” said Adama Ouedraogo, the Task Team Leader of the Project. “Today’s project will provide financing to overcome these roadblocks so that children are given access to quality education in order to promote growth, provide them with higher incomes and bring equity to all of Burkina Faso.”
Secondary school enrollment in Burkina Faso has a low entry rate because of many different obstacles children and their families have to overcome. There are not enough schools especially in rural areas with many located far from children’s homes and parents are reluctant to send their children too far because of security concerns. In total, the project will finance the construction and upgrade of 52 public and private schools, including two science focused schools.
Parents often take children out before the end of the year to help reduce household poverty. Girls drop out or do not enroll because of marriage or because of early or unwanted pregnancies. To increase enrollment in secondary education the project will reduce the costs for the poorest families by expanding fee reduction policies and increasing subsidies to students. In addition about 1000 selected students, predominately girls from poor families will receive help to cover other schooling costs.
Finally, the project will focus on improving the quality of teaching and learning with a particular focus on mathematics, the natural and computer sciences, and languages. Activities will include updates to education curriculum, improvements to teacher pre- and in-service training in secondary education, as well as increasing the availability of science equipment, textbooks and other teaching materials. It will also help improve learning outcomes by promoting the participation of communities in school operations and develop incentives for schools to improve their quality.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans 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 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.8 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.