World Bank announces $200m project to improve education


Dec 07,2017

AMMAN — A World Bank (WB) project worth $200 million will help Jordan expand access to early childhood education and improve student assessment, teaching and learning conditions for Jordanian and Syrian refugee children, a WB statement said. 

The Education Reform Support Programme was approved on Tuesday by the WB Group’s board of directors and is expected to benefit some 700,000 Jordanian and Syrian refugee children in addition to helping train over 30,000 teachers across the Kingdom.   

Over the last two decades, Jordan’s primary gross enrollment ratio increased from 71 per cent in 1994 to 99 per cent in 2010, with the transition rate to secondary school increasing from 63 per cent to 98 per cent, according to the statement. 

However, challenges remain on certain aspects, which have been further exacerbated by the influx of Syrian refugees. The expansion of education access to Syrian refugee children has stretched resources and constrained the ability to maintain and improve the quality of education.

“The Government of Jordan realised early on that keeping Syrian refugee children out of school would have detrimental impacts in the long-term on peace, stability and economic development,” Saroj Kumar Jha, WB Mashreq regional director, was quoted in the statement as saying. 

“The government’s commitment to protecting Syrian refugee children’s right to education and integrating them in the public formal sector has put severe strains on the country’s fiscal balance and ability to deliver public services. The World Bank is committed to helping Jordan improve the access and quality of education to achieve the full potential of educational investments,” he added.

In spite of steady improvements over the past few years, the key challenge of low access to quality early childhood education has remained, leading to poor school readiness, particularly for children from poorer and disadvantaged backgrounds, including Syrian refugee children, the report stated. 

Poor student learning outcomes are also regarded as a main challenge, mostly attributable to the existing learning environment and teaching quality. 

One in five students in grade two can not read a single word, while nearly half are unable to perform a subtraction task correctly, thus lacking the basic skills for further mental development, the statement continued, noting that Jordan also faces a major challenge in its student assessment system which does not provide early and effective feedback on performance.

“The Education Reform Support Programme is well aligned with the government’s National Strategy for Human Resource Development (2016-2025) and supports four of its five main themes: expanding access and improving quality of early childhood education; improving teaching and learning conditions; reforming student assessment and certification system and strengthening education system management,” Karine Pezzani, WB senior operations officer, said in the statement.

The $200 million programme is financed at 25 per cent by the Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF) and brings the WB Group’s total commitments to Jordan to $ 1.060 billion, of which $890 million is on concessional terms with funding from the GCFF and the International Development Association. 

Launched in 2016, the GCFF provides concessional financing to middle income countries hosting large numbers of refugees at rates usually reserved for the poorest countries, the statement concluded.