Tuesday July 23, 2024

WB okays $150m for education improvement in Punjab

World Bank approved $150 million to improve access to and delivery of quality education services in Punjab

By Our Correspondent
June 16, 2024
An undated image of World Bank Headquarters in Washington DC. — AFP File
An undated image of World Bank Headquarters in Washington DC. — AFP File

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has approved $150 million to improve access to and delivery of quality education services in Punjab.

According to an announcement made on Saturday, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved $150 million for the project “Getting Results: Access and Delivery of Quality Education Services in Punjab Project” (GRADES).

The project aims to increase participation rates of girls and boys in pre-primary and primary grades and enhance reading proficiency in primary grades in Punjab.

The GRADES project will focus on improving learning outcomes, recovering from learning losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening the management of schools and expanding school participation levels. This will contribute to higher completion rates and increased years of schooling, with better learning outcomes for both girls and boys. The project is expected to directly benefit approximately five million children, 7,000 headteachers, 165,000 teachers, and more than 3,000 teacher mentors in public schools as well as Punjab Education Foundation schools.

“Punjab has more than 7 million out-of-school children. GRADES will help the government substantially reduce this number and, in parallel, improve foundational learning outcomes for boys and girls who are already in school,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “This will be done through scaling up and strengthening public-private partnerships, improving school preparedness among young children, enhancing the quality and use of teaching and learning materials and assessments, and improving the learning environment in schools.”

Given Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate shocks, the project will adopt a climate-resilient approach with measures to mitigate the impact of natural disasters, including the construction of approximately 5,400 additional climate-smart classrooms in primary schools. It will introduce low-cost climate-smart features such as raised plinths and reflective roofs. The project will prioritise the reconstruction of schools damaged during the 2022 floods, especially girls’ schools, overcrowded schools, and schools in locations with high numbers of out-of-school children. Additionally, the project will include measures to strengthen disability inclusion by making school infrastructure more accessible and integrating inclusive education principles into teacher coaching.

“The World Bank and the government of Punjab have a strong history of collaboration on education reform,” said Izza Farrakh, task team leader for the project. “The GRADES will leverage this partnership for further innovation, such as climate-resilient classrooms and integrating climate change education into the curriculum. Reforms such as these will help ensure a safe and conducive learning environment and, at the same time, prepare the next generation to be more resilient to climate shocks and natural disasters.”