- A government project to improve supply and quality of primary education in Guinea-Bissau has found international financing. The country, plagued by political chaos for a decade, has one of Africa's highest adult illiteracy rates - 60 percent and even 75 percent for women.
The African Development Bank (ADB) and the Nigeria Trust Fund yesterday announced their approval of two loans to Guinea-Bissau, totalling US$ 10.17 million. The loans are to finance the so-called 'Education III' government project.
According to a release by ADF, the education project aims to strengthen primary education with a view to providing education for all and preparing the youth for integration into the country's socio-economic life.
Investments in Guinea-Bissau's near-collapsing education sector are seen as a necessity. The chronically poor country sees only around 60 percent of its children attending primary school. Subsequently, adult illiteracy is at 60 percent in general and at 75 percent for adult women.
The education project, the ADB holds, therefore also is set to contribute to poverty reduction in Guinea-Bissau "by giving a large number of uneducated, dropout and unskilled youths the possibility to acquire skills that the labour market may need and through which they can earn a living."
In order to improve the supply and quality of primary education in the deficit zones, the project was to allow for the construction of 220 new classrooms - including 80 to replace the 'baraccas' - 50 annex buildings and the rehabilitation of 100 damaged schools. In that regard, the project also was to finance basic furniture and equipment for the new classrooms, namely: 3,960 two-seater desk benches for pupils, 220 boards and 220 cupboards, 220 desks and 220 chairs for the teachers.
Besides, the project was set to fund an in-service skills improvement programme for teachers in various subject-teaching methods. The programme was also to comprise school and reproductive health, sensitisation to malaria control and STD/AIDS preventive measures. Nine training modules were to be designed for the benefit of 800 school principals who, in turn, will oversee the supervision and training of 4,000 teachers.
With regard to vocational training rehabilitation aimed at promoting youth integration into working life, the education project was to extend and systematise at two training centres currently not in use, a vocational integration training mechanism which would enable 7,000 learners to acquire in 21 basic trades enough skills that will permit them to obtain a first job.
- To this end, the project will fund the design of training modules, the rehabilitation and equipment of training centres, the implementation of training activities and production activities to generate resources for the vocational integration training centres, according to the ADB.
In addition, the mechanism setup was to offer workers the possibility to gradually hone their skills while in service. "These various undertakings will help improve the offer for school places by more than 15 000 in the deficit zones between 2003 and 2007, or a 26.8 percent increase in hosting capacity in the designated regions," the ADB says.
These undertakings also were to "allow to push up the base rate of primary education from 60 percent in 2003 to 70 percent in 2007 in the project's intervention zones." Overall, the project was to contribute to "bringing down the extreme poverty indicator of 88 percent in 2003 to 78 percent in 2007."
The project site was to be spread out throughout the country depending on the type of activity to be implemented. The construction of primary schools and the emergency rehabilitation operations mainly was to take place in the Cacheu, Oio,Gabu and Bolama/Bijagos regions. Vocational integration training was to concern the two regional locations of Contubuel and Bula and in-service training was to be offered nationwide.
The total project costs are estimated at US$ 11.3 million. While the Guinea-Bissauan government was to pay 10 percent of these costs from its own funds, the ADF loan would represent 46 percent of the costs. Further, the loan from the Nigeria Trust Fund represented 44 percent of the financing.
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