Washington DC, December 5, 2017— A US$200 million World Bank project will help Jordan expand access to early childhood education, and improve student assessment, teaching and learning conditions for Jordanian and Syrian refugee children. The Education Reform Support Program was approved today by the World Bank Group’s Board of Directors. The project will benefit approximately 700,000 Jordanian and Syrian refugee children. It will also help train more than 30,000 teachers across the Kingdom.
Over the last two decades, Jordan made impressive strides in terms of school access, attainment and enrolment rates. The primary gross enrollment ratio increased from 71 percent in 1994 to 99 percent in 2010, and the transition rate to secondary school increased from 63 percent to 98 percent over the same period. Nevertheless, challenges remain on certain fronts. These have been further exacerbated by the influx of Syrian refugees. The expansion of education access to Syrian refugee children has stretched resources thin and constrained the ability to maintain and improve the quality of education.
“The Government of Jordan realized early on that keeping Syrian refugee children out of school would have detrimental impacts in the long-term on peace, stability and economic development,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. The Government’s commitment to protecting Syrian refugee children’s right to education and integrating them in the public formal sector has put severe strains on the country’s fiscal balance and ability to deliver public services, The World Bank is committed to helping Jordan improve the access and quality of education to achieve the full potential of educational investments.”
In spite of steady improvements over the past few years, a key challenge facing the education system in Jordan is low access to quality early childhood education. This leads to poor school readiness, particularly for children from poorer and disadvantaged backgrounds, including Syrian refugee children. Poor student learning outcomes are also a challenge and are mostly attributable to the existing learning environment and teaching quality. One in five students in grade 2 cannot read a single word, while nearly half are unable to perform a single subtraction task correctly, thus lacking the basic skills for further mental development. Jordan also faces a major challenge regarding its student assessment system which does not provide early and effective feedback on performance.
“The Education Reform Support Program is well aligned with the government’s National Strategy for Human Resource Development (2016-2025) and supports four of its five main themes: expanding access and improving quality of early childhood education; improving teaching and learning conditions; reforming student assessment and certification system and strengthening education system management.” said Karine Pezzani, World Bank Senior Operations Officer and Co-Task Team Leader.
The US$200 million Education Reform Support Program is financed at 25% from the Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF). The Program brings the World Bank Group’s total commitments to Jordan to US$ 1.060 billion, of which US$ 890 million is on concessional terms with funding from the GCFF and the International Development Association (IDA). Launched in 2016, the GCFF provides concessional financing to middle income countries hosting large numbers of refugees at rates usually reserved for the poorest countries.