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IDB approves $80 million loan for basic education program in the Dominican Republic

The Inter-American Development Bank today announced the approval of an $80 million loan to support the first phase of a program to improve equity in basic education in the Dominican Republic by focusing on schools and students in rural and marginal urban areas.

During the four-year first phase of the program, the Dominican Republic’s Education Department will introduce new education models tailored to the needs of disadvantaged children in rural and marginal urban areas, where school achievement indicators lag behind those in urban areas.

The IDB plans to support a five-year second phase of the program with a $100 million loan to expand coverage of these new education models across the country after evaluating the first phase’s results.

“The Dominican program recognizes that there are significant disparities in school achievement between the poorest children and those that are better off. Therefore, universal education services must include differentiated strategies to assist this segment of the population,” said IDB project team leader Carola Alvarez.

One of the components of the new program will improve education in rural areas, where grade repetition and drop-out rates are higher than in urban areas, by focusing on multigrade schools, where children in different grade levels are taught by a single teacher in one classroom.

This component will finance teaching manuals, educational materials and libraries, training workshops for rural teachers, and investments in infrastructure to provide drinking water and sanitary services and to refurbish classrooms in multigrade schools.

Another component will reduce disparities between schools in marginal urban areas and those in higher-income areas. In this case, the biggest challenge is to reduce the high dropout rate triggered by risk factors that tend to affect children from poor families.

Under the program, teachers in marginal urban schools will receive training, especially in remedial education for students that are lagging behind their peers. Educational materials and infrastructure will also be improved. In the first phase, these actions will be taken in low-income areas of Santo Domingo, Santiago and La Vega. In the second phase the program will be expanded to other urban areas.

A third component in the program will improve the Education Department’s capacity to manage information and the quality of its data and indicators. The program will also establish a competitive fund for educational innovation that will finance initiatives put forward by public sector agencies, NGOs or private sector institutions involved in education.

This program reflects the strategy shared by the IDB and the Dominican Republic of improving education in order to reduce economic and social inequality. During the past decade the IDB supported the Dominican education reform with two loans totaling $81.3 million. That program expanded the coverage of basic education, raised the rate of graduation and reduced the overall dropout rate.

The new loan has a 25-year term, with a 4-year grace period, at a variable annual interest rate, now at 5.39 percent. Local counterpart funds will total $9 million for the first phase of the program.

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