BAGHDAD, May 23, 2022 - The World Bank has approved a new US$10 million project to support Innovations towards Learning in three lagging Iraqi Governorates. The project aims to enhance teaching practices of Arabic and Mathematics teachers, and improve literacy and numeracy skills among the most vulnerable primary students in lagging Iraqi governorates.
Human capital development is at the heart of achieving sustainable economic growth. Iraq’s human capital is only 15% of total wealth, one of the lowest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and largely attributable to poor education outcomes. Years of conflict and structural inefficiencies have resulted in an education system that is not adequately conveying foundational skills – the basis for learning and skills development. The most recent Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA) show that by Grade 3, the vast majority of Iraqi students assessed had not yet acquired sufficient foundational skills – with over 90% of students not understanding what they are reading. Moreover, almost one third of Grade 3 students were unable to answer correctly a single question about an age-appropriate text they just read, and 41% of Grade 3 students were unable to answer a single subtraction problem question correctly.
These poor learning outcomes highlight the critical need to focus, as a priority, on the most vulnerable students at the highest risk of being left behind and dropping out of the education system. Student drop-out in primary schools has increased in the recent past, with only half of the poorest students completing it. This new project is geared towards the poorest students to prevent further learning losses among them, and ensure all Iraqi children are learning.
“Boosting learning and productivity of this generation and of future generations in Iraq, and thus securing the economic and social benefits that result from it, requires investments in the foundational skills of the most vulnerable students,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. “The new project will help Iraq improve reading and mathematics learning outcomes of more than 300,000 students and improve teaching practices of more than 4,000 Mathematics and Arabic teachers in Iraq’s three poorest governorates.”
The project will be implemented by Iraq’s Ministry of Education in close collaboration with the Ministries of Planning and Finance over a period of two years. The results under this project will inform larger national scale up and reforms needed for improving quality and relevance of education in Iraq.
The Innovations towards Learning Project is financed under the Iraq Recovery, Reform, and Reconstruction Fund (I3RF). The I3RF was established in partnership with the Government of Iraq in 2018, and is funded by Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Sweden. It provides a platform for financing and strategic dialogue for development and reconstruction, with a strong focus on targeted reforms and public and private investments in socio-economic recovery.