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IDB to invest over $200 million in Brazilian education system

State of Pará receives loan to improve education quality and coverage 

The Brazilian state of Pará will receive significant support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to improve access to quality basic education, the IDB announced today. The Bank has approved a loan of over $200 million that will fund school construction, remedial education, teacher training, evaluation and monitoring systems among other projects. Hundreds of thousands of students living in Brazil’s second largest state are expected to benefit from the program financed by this loan. 

The Program is the backbone of the recently launched Para Education Compact (PEC), a state’s initiative that brings together municipalities, civil society and private sector to support the long term effort needed to improve the quality of basic education in the state.

Only 31 percent of 19-year-olds in Pará have completed secondary school, a figure that is far inferior to the decidedly low national average of 50 percent. Academic underachievement precipitated by poor quality education is the leading cause of school dropout in Brazil. The IDB, in partnership with the Secretariat of Education of the State of Pará (SEDUC), aims to increase statewide graduation rates by increasing the availability and quality of secondary and vocational education. 

Dangerous and insufficient school infrastructure has also influenced dropout rates in Pará with 40 percent of educational facilities urgently requiring improvements. The new IDB loan will finance the construction of 30 secondary schools and 2 vocational schools, and the renovation of another 350 schools, opening up quality educational opportunities to over 42,000 underserved students in the state.

 Learning acceleration and educational reinforcement programs for students, as well as professional development for teachers, will be implemented to reduce failure and dropout rates. In addition to the academic performance goals set for students, the program is designed to improve young beneficiaries’ self-esteem and socioemotional skills. Recent IDB research shows that these skills are crucial to preparing students for a successful transition from school to the workforce. In the coming years, domestic and foreign investments in mining, transportation and tourism are expected to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in Pará but low education levels among workers threaten potential economic and development gains; only 56 percent of the workforce has completed primary school. 

Encompassing 15 percent of the country, Pará is Brazil’s second largest state by geographic area. It has a population of 7.6 million, 70 percent of whom live in urban areas. Due to its sheer size and unique geographical features, Pará faces logistical challenges that have compromised education access and quality in the state. This program responds to the ambitious objectives of the recent Brazilian National Educational Plan and complements the IDB’s existing partnership with Brazil intended to promote social inclusion through the education sector. 

The IDB loan is for a 25-year term, with a 5.5-year grace period and an interest rate based on LIBOR. Local counterpart funds total $150.6 million.

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