World Bank OKs first loan to Iraq in over 30 years
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved the first loan to Iraq in over thirty years. The $100 million Third Emergency Education Project (TEEP) will help the Government of Iraq alleviate school overcrowding and lay the groundwork for educational reform. The TEEP builds on the successful experiences of two previous projects financed by grants from the World Bank Iraq Trust Fund—a $40 million textbook project and a $60 million school construction and rehabilitation project.
Iraq’s educational system, once considered among the best in the Middle East, has deteriorated over the last twenty years, resulting in poor learning conditions and declining school enrollment. Since 2003, Iraqi authorities have successfully maintained a functioning school system. Nevertheless, the educational system faces challenges caused by massive backlogs in school construction and maintenance, human resource development, and policy and system development.
”School overcrowding is a main contributor to low school enrollment rates,” commented Peter Buckland, the project’s Task Team Leader. “There are twice as many teachers as classrooms and nearly 20 percent of primary and secondary schools operate in double or even triple shifts,” he added.
The TEEP will finance the construction and furnishing of about 82 new primary and secondary schools in 15 governorates, directly benefiting about 57,000 students. In addition, the project will introduce new design standards for schools, help the Iraqi authorities formulate and introduce a national program for school construction and maintenance, and finance a comprehensive program to support educational system reform.
“Bank-financed projects emphasize local employment and are implemented by Iraq’s own institutions, which helps minimize security costs while building local capacity and ensuring sustainability,” noted Joseph Saba, the Country Director for Iraq. “This project will be implemented by the Ministry of Education, which is experienced in working with the Bank through the Iraq Trust Fund. The ministry will contract Iraqi construction companies using internationally accepted competitive procurement procedures.”
The US$100 million credit will be provided by the International Development Association (IDA), an arm of the World Bank that provides financing on concessional terms to eligible countries. The credit has 35 years maturity including 10 years grace period.