World Bank Supports Education and Rural Women in Afghanistan

Afghanistan and the World Bank signed new grant agreements worth $403 million to finance improvements in primary, secondary and higher education as well as advancing the economic and social standing of rural women. The new financing package includes: - a $298 million grant to the EQRA (education) Project, which is expected to benefit some 7 million children, aims to increase equitable access to primary and secondary education, particularly for girls, in selected lagging provinces, and to improve learning conditions in Afghanistan. The grant includes $100 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries; $100 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), administered by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donor countries; and $98 million to be provided by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a multi-stakeholder partnership that aims to strengthen education systems in developing countries. - a $100 million grant to the Women's Economic Empowerment Rural Development Project (WEE-RDP), which aims to increase the social and economic empowerment of poor, rural women in selected communities. The grant includes $25 million from IDA and $75 million from the ARTF. - a $5 million additional grant to the existing $50 million grant Higher Education Development Project (HEDP) from the ARTF aims to increase access to higher education in Afghanistan, as well as improve its quality and relevance. The EQRA Project will include students in general education and out-of-school children in lagging provinces, especially girls, over the five-year implementation period. The project will focus on making teachers better at teaching. EQRA builds on experiences from the World Bank and ARTF’s previous engagements in the sector, primarily the First and Second Education Quality Improvement Programs, which were national programs focused on increasing access to basic education from Grades 1 to 12. The project will be implemented jointly by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD). A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between the two ministries, outlining the roles and responsibilities of each ministry. MRRD will be responsible for school construction activities, while MoE will be responsible for the other project areas. The WEE-RDP is fully aligned with the government’s National Peace and Development Framework. The project will work to increase women’s participation in community level women’s institutions, which will be provided seed capital, technical assistance, and linked to formal financial institutions and markets to enable economic empowerment. The additional $5 million financing for the HEDP will be used to expand successful actions in four areas including: (i) provision of scholarships for full-time faculty to pursue master’s degrees or above; (ii) training of teaching faculty in Outcome-Based Education (OBE) and Student-Centered Learning (SCL); (iii) support to public universities to prepare and implement Strategic Institutional Development Plans (SIDPs); and (iv) grants to support individual and group research projects at universities.