The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved today a $25 million loan for Additional Financing of the Education Improvement Project (EIP) in Armenia. The project will further assist the Government in improving school readiness of children entering primary education, the physical condition and availability of educational resources in general education, and quality and relevance in higher education institutions in Armenia.
Quality of education is a key challenge causing a mismatch between the formal qualifications of graduates and the skills sought by employers, therefore slowing overall productivity, and hampering economic growth in Armenia. The project, which spans three education levels, will help strengthen the education trajectory and the human capital of Armenian children and is aligned with mid- to long-term government and sectoral strategies.
“Establishing an equitable and high-quality education system is key not only for growth but also in providing hope for a brighter future for the youth of Armenia,” says Carolin Geginat, World Bank Country Manager for Armenia. “With this project, the Government aims to improve the relevance and quality of, and access to, educational services at all levels, including in the early years of a child and for higher education. The project contributes in important ways to strengthening Armenia’s human capital and to enhancing the competitiveness of the economy.”
The project has two main components. The first component will focus on enhancing the quality of general education by financing 80 additional community-based preschools in early education for children aged four to six, as well as the training of teachers and principals assigned to new preschools. Four upper secondary schools that are in poor seismic condition and located in areas of climate risk will be rehabilitated and refurbished.
Furthermore, under this component, data-driven evidence-based policy making for improving managing, teaching, and learning will be promoted. 200 school laboratories in general education will be equipped and furnished and will be provided with resources to help teachers deliver a project-based learning approach in the context of the revised science, technology, engineering, and mathematics STEM curriculum.
The second component will finance higher education institution (HEI) projects to improve labor market relevance, organizational efficiency, and equity in enrollment and other opportunities. A call for proposals under the Competitive Innovations Fund (CIF) will welcome projects that aim to develop innovative approaches to strengthen STEM education in both universities and basic education.
“This project will incentivize HEIs to attract more female students into STEM fields of study and jobs, and have more female teaching staff working in programs,” says Renata Freitas Lemos, World Bank Task Team Leader of the project. “Frequent community roundtables with teachers, parents, and students at any stage of the proposed activities will improve citizen engagement and participatory monitoring of education outcomes.”
The original EIP project has delivered strong results to date. 136 preschools have been established and around 3,500 five- and six-year-old children have been enrolled across the country. 13 schools have been fully rehabilitated and refurbished, while 107 high schools have been equipped with laboratory equipment and furniture for STEM subjects along with E-learning materials. An education management information system (EMIS) which captures the developments at all levels, has been established and is fully operational and expanded nationwide. 4,475 teachers and administrative staff have been trained in information and communication technologies usage. Grants for 18 research projects were awarded to 15 universities across Armenia.
The World Bank will provide a $25 million IBRD loan of variable-spread, with a 14.5-year grace period and a total repayment term of 25 years. The Government contribution is $6.25 million. Since joining the World Bank in 1992, and IDA in 1993, commitments to Armenia have totaled approximately $2,502,870 million.