Mozambique: World Bank Support to Improve Learning and Empower Girls in Mozambique

press release

Washington — In agreement with the Government of Mozambique, the World Bank approved new financial support for a project that focuses on increasing learning readiness and girls' retention in upper primary and lower secondary grades of basic education. The project will be implemented nationwide, but with special attention to underserved areas that face greater educational challenges. The package includes an International Development Association (IDA) grant of $160 million and a trust fund grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) of $140 million for a total amount of $300 million.

This project focuses on two major bottlenecks in the education cycle: (i) low learning outcomes during the first three years of primary schooling; and (ii) low girls' retention and transition to upper grades of basic education.

"Achieving universal basic education for girls is critical because it allows them to mature and become productive adults in the country's economic fabric," noted Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Mozambique, Madagascar, Comores, Mauritius, and Seychelles. "Educating girls has multiplying benefits on future generations, as it engenders a virtuous cycle of empowerment, lower fertility, and greater productivity, with long-lasting effects to communities."

Mozambique has a young and rapidly expanding population, posing challenges and opportunities to its long-term development. Mozambique has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the region, despite progress made over the last decades. The country's human capital indicators are low, with wide geographical and gender disparities. Dropout rates are high, especially among girls, and education access continues to be a challenge, especially at the preschool and upper grades of basic education where large enrollment disparities between boys and girls persist.

"This project invests in strengthening and expanding preschool services and improving the quality of learning in the early grades, which will help develop critical foundational skills to boost learning along the entirety of the schooling cycle," noted Marina Bassi, Senior Economist and the project's team leader. As part of this effort to strengthen educational services, the project will build one hundred new preschool facilities, known as Escolinhas, in rural areas with low educational attainment and support improvements in reading skills for students in grades one to three by training and supporting teachers and ensuring that learning materials are accessible to children in those grades.

"Increasing girls' access and retention in upper primary and lower secondary education is a key objective of this operation," added Lucia Nhampossa, Education Specialist and the project's co- team leader. "This will be achieved by creating a safe and inclusive school environment for girls, expanding the supply of lower secondary schools country wide, especially in areas with low enrollment of girls, and improving the conditions of school infrastructure to help attract and retain girls." Additionally, the project will implement sexual and reproductive health education programs and gender-based violence awareness and mitigation campaigns in upper primary and lower secondary grades, as well as mentorship activities for girls. The project will also expand the scale of distance learning facilities, which will be increasingly important if the depth and duration of the COVID-19 crisis is extended.

This operation is in line with the country's priorities, as outlined in its five-year plan, as well as the Bank's partnership framework for FY 2017-21, which acknowledges that a more diversified, productive, and inclusive economy will require greater investments in human capital.

* 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 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.6 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $21 billion over the last three years, with about 61 percent going to Africa.

PRESS RELEASE NO: 2021/111/AFR

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