Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in education over the years and was among the first few developing countries to achieve gender parity in lower secondary school, said Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.
However, the prolonged school closure during the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact on learning and forced many poor girls to leave school, he mentioned.
“The World Bank will continue to help Bangladesh recover from learning losses by improving learning outcomes and teaching quality so that students graduate with the skills they need to live a rich and fulfilling life and strive in society,” he added.
On Saturday, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved $300 million to help Bangladesh recover from learning losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, introduce complementary online learning blended with in-class education to build system resilience, improve learning outcomes and teaching quality, and reduce the dropout rate in secondary education.
The Learning Acceleration in Secondary Education (LAISE) Operation will support the government’s Secondary Education Programme. With an aim to accelerate learning, the programme will have a focus on core subjects such as mathematics, English and Bangla for grades 6 and 8, as these are foundational for future learning.
It aims to increase proficiency of Grade 8 students in mathematics to 65 percent from the current 28 percent and Bangla to 90 percent from 66 percent. To reduce dropout rates, the programme will provide stipends to 8 million students and ensure 5,000 institutions have active sexual harassment and prevention committees in place.
Further, about 7,200 schools will have programmes to improve reading proficiency, and 15,000 teachers will receive training to improve their teaching skills. The program will also support mental health counseling and help prevent gender-based violence in at least 30 percent of targeted schools.
To recover from learning losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the programme will support digitization and phased rollout of the newly approved curriculum as well as additional remedial classes for learning recovery. It will also support the government’s blended education masterplan —a combination of in-class and online learning— and offer personalized resources to students so they can learn at their own pace.
To keep children in secondary schools in climate-vulnerable regions, the programme will take additional steps beyond providing stipends and help those who have dropped out to re-enroll,” said T M Asaduzzaman, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and Team Leader for the project.
“In climate vulnerable areas, blended teaching will help keep learning on track even if schools are forced to close due to floods or cyclones. The programme will also mainstream climate education into the curriculum to foster climate-smart mindsets and behaviors,” he added.
The credit is from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), which provides concessional financing, and has a 30-year term with a five-year grace period.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh. Since independence, the World Bank has committed about $40 billion in grants, interest-free and concessional credits to the country. Currently, Bangladesh has the largest IDA programme in the world with a total of $16.07 billion commitment to 56 ongoing projects.