October 27, 2006
World Bank supports improvement of basic education in Uzbekistan
The World Bank\'s Board of Executive Directors on 26 October approved a US$40 million IDA [International Development Agency] credit for the Uzbekistan Basic Education Project. The Project will help improve the quality and overall cost effectiveness of basic education in the country.

The project is in accordance with the Interim Strategy Note for Uzbekistan discussed by the Bank\'s Board of Directors in July 2006, which envisioned lending focused on global public goods and basic social services, combined with technical assistance and analytical and advisory services for the country over a 12-15 month period.

Uzbekistan has achieved near universal access in enrollment in primary education for girls and boys totaling 99%, and secondary enrollment totaling 95.5%. The country has achieved almost complete literacy, which increased from 97.7% in 1991 to 99.3% in 2003. The share of the adult population that has gained specialized secondary, vocational, or higher education exceeds 75%. However, the quality of education still remains a main concern in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Challenges to quality education include a general lack of textbooks, low household incomes impacting the indirect costs of education (textbooks and other books, uniforms, and school supplies, for example), poor school facilities, a lack of qualified teaching staff, low salaries for teachers, and a lack of interactive teaching and learning methods.

\"The proposed Uzbekistan Basic Education Project has been designed to support a US$1.2 billion, five-year program to raise the quality of basic education, which was launched by the Uzbek Government in July 2004. The program targets basic needs in the country and responds to the Bank\'s earlier recommendations to address the quality of basic education. The Bank\'s participation should help to focus the government\'s Program more heavily on cost effectiveness and results, and thus help bring about a stronger development outcome for the entire Program,\" said Ernesto Cuadra, Lead Education Specialist of the World Bank and the Task Team Leader for the Uzbekistan Education Project.

The Project consists of four main components provision of Learning Materials and Resources for General Schools and pre-schools; strengthening of in-service training for teachers and Principals in general secondary schools and pre-schools; support for activation of school boards; and improvements in education finance, budgeting and management.

By the time the project is completed, the young people of Uzbekistan should be benefiting from more effective teaching in general secondary schools. Teaching practices will be improved as a result of in-service training, and allocation and utilization of public financial resources in education will become more efficient.

The project is expected to make a critical contribution to helping the country achieve the MDG in education, which is aimed at improving the quality of primary and basic secondary education by 2015 while at the same time maintaining universal access.

Uzbekistan joined the World Bank in 1992. The World Bank\'s mission in the country is to improve people\'s livelihoods through being a partner in economic reforms, supporting the modernization of the country\'s social sectors and infrastructure, and sharing its knowledge and experience with the government and the people of Uzbekistan.

Total World Bank commitments to Uzbekistan amount to US$630 million.


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