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IDB backs Trinidad and Tobago’s Seamless Education System

The Inter-American Development Bank today approved a $48.75 million loan to Trinidad and Tobago to support the first phase of a program to improve the quality and equity of education, with a focus on early childhood.


Education reform has long been a high priority for Trinidad and Tobago, which has succeeded in expanding access to education at all levels, from early childhood care to secondary school.


However, recent assessments indicate Trinidad and Tobago needs to address a range of issues in order to achieve its goal of developing a Seamless Education System capable of fostering life-long learning.


To that end, the IDB will support a three-phase program to transform Trinidad and Tobago’s education system along the lines of its national strategic plan, Vision 2020, which seeks to capitalize the country’s strong potential for economic growth and ensure its future competitiveness by investing in human capital.


A key component of the program’s first phase seeks to increase the access to quality early childhood care and education for three- and four-year-old children from disadvantaged families and to strengthen the capacity of primary schools to provide quality education to students with a wide range of learning needs.


The program will finance the construction, upgrading and equipping of 50 early childhood care and education centers and the development and implementation of an extensive training program for their staff.


Resources will also be provided to revise the curricula in seven subject areas in primary education and to produce and distribute new teacher guides and instructional materials.


The program will also support Trinidad and Tobago’s efforts to introduce Spanish as the first foreign language for its students, providing immersion training for teachers in selected primary schools and other activities to improve language instruction.


In subsequent stages, and based on the results of the initial stage, the program will be expanded to a national scale, adding activities at the secondary level.


The total cost of the first phase of the program is $62.5 million. Trinidad and Tobago will contribute $13.75 million to its execution. The IDB loan is for 20 years, with a four-year grace period and an interest rate based on LIBOR.

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