The World Bank Group and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) approved recently a grant totaling $35 million to support school-aged children's access to early childhood development (ECD), basic education, and Majalis (Koranic centers).
The funding consists of a $30 million grant by the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) and a $5 million grant by the GPE.
The Education Support Program (ESP) aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning outcomes from the lower and upper basic schools up through the senior secondary schools.
"This program takes a holistic view of The Gambia's school system, targeting teacher training and school curricula to improve learning outcomes," explains Meskerem Mulatu, World Bank Practice Manager for Education in West and Central Africa.
"It also incorporates critical inclusion initiatives and a conditional cash transfer program that will support vulnerable populations and out-of-school youth."
The project is expected to benefit 411,000 school-aged children, including 32,500 in ECD, 375,200 in lower and upper basic schools, and senior secondary schools, and 2,300 children in Majalis. In lower and upper basic schools, the curriculum of all the cores subjects will be reviewed and revised, after which newly revised textbooks will be printed and distributed to every school in the country. For upper basic schools and senior secondary schools, the student-centered program deploying innovative technology through the Progressive Science Initiative and Progressive Math Initiative (PSI-PMI) and English Language of Art will be scaled up.
"The delivery of literacy and numeracy skills through Majalis continues to be important given that it reaches a portion of the out-of-school youth. In some cases, it can represent the only formal education that many children ever receive," adds Elene Imnadze, World Bank Country Representative for The Gambia.
The World Bank Group and the GPE are two of the few donors that are active in the sector and are seen as taking a strategic leadership role in the policy dialogue on education access and quality.
The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.