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IDB approves $22 million to improve education in Guatemala

The Inter-American Development Bank today announced the approval of a $22 million loan to Guatemala to improve and expand the coverage of education in the framework of a long-range effort to make primary and pre-school education accessible to everyone in the country.

Among other services, the resources will finance support for primary education in nine of the country’s 22 provinces and increase coverage for six-year-olds from 29 percent in 1999 to 35 percent in 2003 to 40 percent in 2004. To achieve these goals, 15,600 teachers will be trained and new teaching materials supplied.

In addition, multicultural bilingual education in indigenous communities will be improved in the same nine departments through training for 4,400 bilingual teachers.

School management will be deconcentrated and decentralized, with more responsibility delegated to the local level, and training will be provided to local staff of the Ministry of Education*. Funding will also be provided to support innovations and investments at the local level.

The IDB loan is the second of three Bank loans to support Guatemala’s education reform, which forms an integral part of the peace accords of 1996 that ended civil strife.

The first education loan of $15.36 million was approved by the Bank in 1998 and was supplemented by five technical assistance grants. This program also contained components to support bilingual education, including the preparation of textbooks in indigenous languages.

In related lending, two-thirds of an IDB loan of $42.3 million approved in 1996 for the Social Investment Fund was committed for school construction. A $90 million Bank loan approved in 1998 for the Social Investment Fund Eastern Development Project also supports education infrastructure, among other local projects. A technology innovation loan of $10.7 million in 1999 helps finance a program that includes a component to enhance the teaching of mathematics, science and technology in grades 7 to 9.

The IDB’s financial support for education in Guatemala is being coordinated with loans and grants from 11 other international organizations and governments, among them the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the European Union, GTZ and KfW of Germany, UNESCO/The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Japan and the Organization of American States.

The current IDB loan is for a 30-year term, with a four-year grace period, at the variable annual interest rate, now 7.1 percent. Part of the interest will be defrayed by the Intermediate Financing Facility. Local counterpart funds total $2.54 million.

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