WB/Uruguay: Education Project to Focus on Early Childhood and Transition from Primary to Secondary School

December 19, 2016

More than 90 thousand preschool and primary school students and teachers in Uruguay will benefit from a US $40 million loan approved by the World Bank (WB) Board of Executive Directors. Parts of the loan’s disbursements will depend on the achievement of specific goals, thus becoming the first loan incorporating a results-based approach for the Uruguayan education sector.

The project will directly benefit 86,000 students and 4,000 teachers, inspectors and directors of Full Time Schools (FTSs), while indirectly benefiting 350 thousand students and teachers in the preschool and primary school education system through the implementation of new and improved monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

“Uruguay has made considerable efforts to improve the access to and quality of education among the country’s children, but significant challenges still remain. Through this new project, the Government of Uruguay has decided to continue to address repetition rates, bottlenecks in the transition from primary to secondary school, insufficient access to early education, as well as the need for adequate evaluation,” said Danilo Astori, Minister of Economy and Finance of Uruguay.

The Improving the Quality of Preschool and Primary School Education Project will support the expansion of the Full Time School (FTS) model, while seeking to improve teaching and evaluation practices in preschool and primary school education. Additionally, it will finance pilot projects geared toward strengthening the primary to secondary school transition.

The FTS model was started in Uruguay in the mid-1990s with support from the World Bank. The longer classroom hours - up from 4 to 7.5 hours - provide increased support for at-risk students; time to reinforce non-cognitive skills and revisit what has been learned. Moreover, this school model supports adequate nutrition for the most vulnerable students and allows parents, especially mothers, to work. Approximately half of the students attending FTSs belong to the poorest 40 percent of the population.

“The abilities of Uruguayan students —what they learn and understand— will determine the future of this country. The project adopts an integrative approach to prepare students, especially the most vulnerable ones, for secondary education,” said Jesko Hentschel, World Bank Director for Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. “We support the expansion of the full time school model in Uruguay, but this project goes even further, starting with the youngest, training the teachers and supporting school transitions,” he added.

Details of the project:

Early Childhood Education. The project will enable more three-year-olds to enter the education system and receive quality education. New classrooms will be constructed, and new teacher training systems created. The project will also strengthen the Early Education Evaluation System, a feedback mechanism for teachers to understand the progress and development stages of their students, information that will allow teachers to empower students to reach the level of development that corresponds with their age.

Primary Education. The project will finance the expansion of FTSs, improving buildings and strengthening teacher capacities, with a strong emphasis on assisting underperforming students. The project aims to construct, overhaul and expand the buildings of the approximately 20 full time schools, as well as maintaining existing facilities. Supervisors, school directors and preschool teachers will be trained to strengthen cognitive abilities and socio-emotional skills of underperforming students.

Primary to Secondary School Transition. At-risk students will be supported in their transition from primary to secondary schools. The project will provide training for sixth-grade students in skills needed for their success in secondary education, which include organizational skills and study techniques, as well as reading and writing skills. Additionally, the project will introduce a set of pilot partnerships between primary and secondary schools, aimed at strengthening student transitions between the two.  

Monitoring and Evaluation. The project seeks to improve the education system’s monitoring and evaluation capacities, by creating, amongst others, an Early Warning System that allows for the timely identification of at-risk students and the targeting of specific dropout prevention programs.

The US$40 million World Bank loan has a variable margin, a 20.5-year maturity period and a 15-year grace period.


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