Millions of Students in Myanmar to Benefit from World Bank-Supported Project

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WASHINGTON, May 20, 2014 – About 8.2 million students in Myanmar will benefit from better-financed schools and more than 100,000 poor students will receive financial support to attend classes through the Decentralizing Funding to Schools Project, approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. The project, financed by a US$80 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) and US$20 million from the Government of Australia through the Myanmar Partnership Multi-Donor Trust Fund, will improve and expand the Myanmar Government’s School Grants Program and Student Stipends Program.

The project provides direct support to the Ministry of Education to expand funding for the national schools grants program that benefits all schools under the Ministry of Education, and a student stipends program focusing on 40 townships. The project will also strengthen the Ministry’s capacity to monitor and implement these programs.

“Improving access to quality education and focusing on the most disadvantaged and poor children in remote areas of the country, is essential to reducing poverty and development of the country,” said Kanthan Shankar, World Bank Country Manager in Myanmar. “We are encouraged to see the government’s increased investment in the education sector over the last couple of years.”

This project will also contribute to important longer-term goals in Myanmar’s education sector. Most importantly, improving the school grants and stipends programs will strengthen the ability of the Ministry of Education to provide a quality education for all citizens by helping to ensure that more students complete additional years of schooling.

The project follows a results-based financing approach with funds disbursed against eligible expenditures linked to measurable results. The results-based approach was chosen as the best design alternative for making sure that Ministry of Education’s focus will be on delivering results and building a data base to track the progress of students.

Although this project is the first World Bank engagement on education in Myanmar, the design reflects a host of experience from other countries and from development partners in Myanmar. These lessons were gathered during project preparation, which included a series of workshops to discuss key design issues and global lessons on learning.

The Decentralizing Funding to Schools project is also closely linked with other efforts supported by the Bank and other development partners aimed at strengthening the government's ability to deliver core public services for the people of Myanmar. For example, this project will be implemented in parallel with a Bank-supported project aimed at modernizing the country’s public financial management system to help make the budgeting process more strategic and improve transparency and accountability in the use of public resources. In addition, the World Bank has carried out a Public Expenditure and Fiduciary Assessment and is currently working on a multi-year public expenditure review, focusing on the health and education sectors.