ADB $320 Million Loan to Help Bangladesh Raise Quality of Primary Education

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending a $320 million loan that will help Bangladesh continue its push to improve the quality and reach of its primary education system.

ADB’s Board of Directors today approved the funds for the Third Primary Education Development Project. It builds on earlier reforms that have helped Bangladesh―which has one of the world’s largest primary school systems―increase net enrollments to almost 96% in 2010 and to achieve gender parity. Eight other development partners, including the World Bank, EU, the UK’s Department for International Development, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Canadian International Development Agency, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Australian Agency for International Development, and the United Nations Children’s Fund are also considering  providing assistance.

“Bangladesh has been successful in improving access including being one of the early achievers of gender parity up to the secondary level. Despite the progress made to date, primary schools still suffer from high student dropout rates, as well as low completion levels and significant student and teacher absenteeism and this project will help address these issues,” said Sultan H. Rahman, ADB Director General at the South Asia Department.

It will support textbook and curriculum improvements, a teacher development plan and a class assessment system that will result in a more effective, relevant and child-friendly learning environment. To reduce current access and participation gaps, targeted assistance will be given to disadvantaged groups such as tribal children, ethnic minorities and children living with disabilities. It will also adopt measures to decentralize school governance and management and institutionalize human resource development.

The project will also expand support for early learning by providing funds for one year of pre-primary education and for non-formal and second chance primary schooling.

“A key feature of this new initiative is its tighter focus on results with financing linked to the government achieving nine annual disbursement-linked indicators that reflect measurable outputs,” said Brajesh Panth, ADB Principal Social Sector Specialist. “The project will support greater alignment with the country system and harmonization amongst development partners in line with the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness,” he added. “A joint financing arrangement will be signed by the government and all development partners to facilitate effective coordination.”

The full project cost is $8.3 billion with the government contributing $7.3 billion equivalent. ADB’s loan from its concessional Asian Development Fund has a 32-year tenor, including a grace period of 8 years, with an interest charge of 1%, rising to 1.5% for the balance of the term.

The Ministry of Primary and Mass Education will execute the project which is expected to be completed by end June 2016.