AN ADDITIONAL US$13.5 million was approved by the World Bank on Monday to complete the construction of two secondary schools, supply resources for those schools and build another secondary school, under the ongoing Guyana Secondary Education Improvement Project.
According to a press release from the World Bank, the sum was approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. It was also stated that the Secondary Education Improvement Project aims to improve teaching in mathematics and increase enrollment in secondary schools. Equipment and training will also be provided to support innovative technology-assisted education delivery methods.
World Bank Resident Representative for Jamaica and Guyana, Ozan Sevimli highlighted that while Guyana’s education sector has made significant progress in the last decade, strengthening learning outcomes remains a priority, moreso in light of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Through the ongoing project, we are pleased to support the government in piloting use of technology and innovative ways of teaching, which are particularly relevant during distance learning. The new financing will support the pilot of a “smart classroom” initiative to help the sector build back better from the pandemic,” Sevimli was quoted as saying in the release.
The additional financing that was approved will also provide more resources to an existing pilot programme that uses adaptive learning software on tablets for mathematics education. This project emphasises the use of technology and higher quality mathematics education, both of which are important to prepare Guyanese students for future employment.
Capacity building for teachers is another important component of the project, as this is seen as crucial to improving the quality of secondary education offered. The project is also supporting construction of secondary schools in Regions Three and Four, which include nearly 30 per cent of the country’s secondary school population and over 40 per cent of the population living in poverty.
“Access to high-quality secondary schools can reduce overcrowding, improve learning conditions, and contribute to increasing enrollment,” the World Bank posited, in the release.
The Guyana Secondary Education Project was approved in 2014 and has been extended to 2023 to ensure the successful completion of all the activities. The original project has already developed mathematics standards for secondary school teachers, supported mathematics training for over 600 teachers, and distributed 200 mathematics teaching kits.
The World Bank noted that Guyana receives interest-free financing from the International Development Association (IDA), with a maturity of 40 years, including a grace period of 10 years. Additionally, it was noted that the World Bank approved support for Guyana’s health response to COVID-19 in November 2020.