The World Bank, last week, signed a grant agreement with Iraq’s Ministry of Education to print and distribute textbooks in time for the 2004/2005 school year. Financed by the World Bank arm of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, the $40 million Emergency Textbook Provision Project is the first to be implemented by Iraq through the World Bank-administered trust fund.
Once considered among the best in the Middle East, the education system in Iraq deteriorated rapidly since the 1980s in access, quality and equity at all levels as a result of three major wars, over a decade of sanctions and under-funding. Although schooling in Iraq was successfully resumed in September 2003 following the recent conflict, the education sector remains fragile and in urgent need for reform and rehabilitation.
The United Nations-World Bank Joint Needs Assessment for Iraq, presented in October 2003, calls on restoring the Iraqi education system to the 1980s level. A situation analysis conducted subsequently by Iraq’s Ministry of Education identified almost $700 million in urgent repair and reconstruction needs in the next three years, and $80 million per year in textbook requirements. Of the 12,000 schools needing repair, over 4,600 require major repair and reconstruction and around 1,300 need to be demolished and rebuilt.
"While the Ministry of Education is undertaking the development of a new curriculum, this grant will be used to print and distribute existing textbooks to ensure that Iraqi students and teachers start a new school year this September with sufficient teaching and learning material," said Christiaan Poortman, World Bank Vice President for Middle East and North Africa.
The textbook project will be complemented by another emergency education project to finance school rehabilitation as well as training and advisory support to Iraqi civil servants in key areas of education reform. (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )