Dar es Salaam — The World Bank has finally approved the $500 million education loan that was delayed following pressure from civil society organisations which raised concerns over schoolgirls' rights.
The global lender said in a statement on Wednesday, April 1, that the education support will directly benefit about 6.5 million secondary school students by strengthening government-run schools and establishing stronger educational pathways for students who leave the formal school system.
"Every child in Tanzania deserves a good education, but thousands are denied this life-changing opportunity each year. This project puts the country's young people front and center; it also dedicates two-thirds of its resources to better and safer learning environments for girls," said Ms Mara Warwick, World Bank country director for Tanzania.
"This is an important step in addressing the challenges that Tanzania's children face throughout their education. The World Bank will continue our dialogue with the government on broader issues concerning equal treatment of schoolchildren," she added in the statement.
Opposition MP Zitto Kabwe and activists in Tanzania urged the World Bank to withdraw the loan citing deteriorating human rights and particularly blocking pregnant girls from staying in school.
The World Bank board of directors agreed to delay the loan so as to allow for more time to discuss elements of the project.
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However, the board approved the credit meant for Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project (SEQUIP) and said the project will be implemented under the bank's new Environmental and Social Framework.
It added thatthe government has committed to offering all stakeholders opportunities to engage in consultations during project implementation and to supporting construction of school infrastructure that is safe and built to good environmental and social standards.
"Citizen engagement in the project will be enhanced through civil society input and strong mechanisms to redress grievances," the statement added.
Tanzania implements free basic education policy which increased enrolment in primary schools. However, secondary education is said to suffer from low quality and high rate of dropout.
"Tanzania, like many countries around the world, is suffering from a learning crisis, where children are either not in school, or are in school but not learning," said Jaime Saavedra, global director for education for the World Bank.
"Of 100 children who start school in Tanzania, less than half will finish primary and only three will complete their upper secondary schooling. This is a crisis. This project will support better quality secondary education, while helping make school a safer place where children can thrive, and where all girls, no matter the circumstances, have a pathway to complete their secondary education."