KHARTOUM, 18 November 2020 – The World Bank Board of Directors recently approved an education program supported by a $61.5 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) for the Sudan Basic Education Support Project (BESP). This constitutes the largest education financing project in Sudan. The project will enable Sudan to sustain and improve basic education for children, with significant support to teachers, schools and communities, while strengthening government capacity to formulate policies and monitor progress at system level.
The project will also contribute to Sudan’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals: “This project comes in an opportune time because we are in the middle of a very difficult economic situation. The Project will certainly take us a good way towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Education (SDG 4); namely good quality education, and free, inclusive and equitable education. We look forward to cooperating with the Global Partnership for Education, the World Bank, and our partners here to make sure the implementation goes as well as it should be,” said Mohamed Alamin Altoum, Minister of Education, Sudan.
The funding will support efforts to improve student enrollment, retention, and reading proficiency in the early grades of primary education, covering all public schools, while prioritizing investment in disadvantaged areas. Public school grants will be provided to disadvantaged schools to reduce education costs borne by parents, lowering the risk of dropping out, especially for girls. The funding will also support volunteer teachers who are normally paid from community contributions, which are likely to decrease due to the economic crisis compounded by the impact of COVID-19.
“The World Bank is well positioned to support this project with focus on results-based financing given its considerable understanding and experience in engaging in the education sector in Sudan for more than two decades. In doing so, it will effectively work with the Government to introduce reforms in the education sector, which are aligned with the goals of the Government Education Sector Strategic Plan, particularly for improved education service delivery,” said Milena Petrova Stefanova, World bank Country Manager for Sudan.
To improve children’s learning environments, the funding will help purchase basic learning materials and equipment. An estimated six million students will be provided textbooks, reading materials and reading support programs, and approximately 30,000 girls will benefit from improvements to the learning environment, including rehabilitation and construction of sanitation facilities. As part of a new, intensive reading program, approximately 4,000 teachers will be trained to assess the reading skills of students, conduct the reading program, and monitor student progress in reading in selected schools. By focusing on the most vulnerable children, including girls, internally displaced and refugee children, the support aims to advance equity in education.
“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt education in Sudan and around the world, GPE’s support to strengthen education systems is more critical than ever,” said Alice Albright, GPE Chief Executive Officer. “In a dire economic context, families are often having to decide whether to put their child in school or put food on the table. No parent should ever have to face such choices. GPE will continue to do its part so that millions of girls and boys, especially the most vulnerable, can go to school and learn.”
In response to the new challenges brought by the COVID-19 crises, the World Bank country program was adjusted in Sudan. The BESP will complement efforts made under the COVID-19 Education Response and Emergency Support Projects to sustain student enrollment and cope with the learning loss due to school closures during the pandemic. While the ongoing emergency operations in the education sector will help to re-enroll students in school once the system resumes and assess the learning loss caused by the pandemic, this project will help to further sustain enrollment, improve student retention, and enhance reading proficiency in target schools. Thirty percent of the total GPE grant allocation will follow a results-based financing mechanism, in which disbursements are made when jointly defined targets and deliverables are achieved.
In a separate grant approved earlier in 2020, GPE has provided Sudan with $11 million to support its COVID-19 education response.