The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors has approved two credits to Ghana today, the first of which will bring senior secondary education to thousands of students in under-served areas while also improving the quality of secondary education programs. The second will help ensure that pregnant women, mothers and young children receive critical health and nutrition services.
"While Ghana has made strong progress in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction, millions of people are yet to find a way out of poverty," said Yusupha Crookes, World Bank Country Director for Ghana. "Increasing poor people's access to better-quality education and lifesaving health services will help to reduce poverty and bring down maternal and child mortality in Ghana."
In line with the government's effort to provide better social services in under-served areas, the US$156 million Ghana Secondary Education Improvement Project aims to enroll 30,000 new secondary students, and to improve learning outcomes for 150,000 students in low-performing schools. The project will support equitable access through expansion and scholarships in underserved districts, and help achieve better quality of education, especially in science and mathematics, by strengthening school management and teaching, and expanding Information Communication and Technology to schools.
"With access to primary education becoming near universal in Ghana, emerging priorities now include expanding access to good-quality secondary education, which has not kept pace with increased demand," said Deborah Newitter Mikesell, World Bank Task Team Leader for the Secondary Education Improvement Project. "Significant social and geographical inequities continue to affect students trying to enter and complete their education at the secondary level, and the quality of education is very uneven."
"Given the large gap between the top secondary schools, which supply most of Ghana's universities, and the bulk of the remaining schools, we aim to make the system more equitable by raising the quality of education even as more students are enrolled in under-served areas," Eunice Y.B. Ackwerh, co-Task Team Leader said.
The US$68 million Ghana Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Improvement Project is expected to benefit 1.6 million women of reproductive age especially pregnant women, and 5.6 million children under age two. The project will bring high-impact and cost-effective community-based maternal and child health and nutrition services to all communities in the underserved Northern, Volta, Upper East and Upper West regions, and half the communities in Ghana's remaining six regions. Despite important achievements in a number of the MDGs, Ghana still has a great deal of work to do in the areas of maternal and infant mortality. The project, therefore, seeks to scale up efforts to reverse the trend.
Women and children in poor families will have increased access to a comprehensive package of essential services including antenatal check-ups, deliveries attended by skilled health personnel, family planning, neonatal and child health and nutrition services as well as growth promotion for young children. It will also facilitate enrollment of pregnant women and their families in targeted areas into the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The project is complemented by a US$5 million grant from the Health Results and Innovation Trust Fund to pilot an innovative results-based financing approach which builds in rewards for service providers who achieve agreed targets of maternal and child services delivery.
"Focusing on maternal and child health and nutrition services at the community level, especially in under-served parts of the country, will help Ghana make faster progress towards achieving maternal and child health related Millennium Development Goals, on which the country is currently off-track" said Evelyn Awittor, World Bank co-Task Team Leader along with Francisca Ayodeji Akala for the Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Improvement Project.
"The focus on results is timely as it builds on some of Ghana's achievements such as the establishment of a common platform for accelerating progress on MDGs including the national Community-Based Health Planning and Services Program and the National Health Insurance Scheme," Akala added.