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Jamaica to improve education with IDB financing

The Inter-American Development Bank has approved $45 million in financing to improve Jamaica's education system and expand compulsory schooling from 16 years to 18 years of age.


The operation sector has two components:


  • A $30 million Policy Based Loan (PBL) to support education policy formation and the implementation of institutional changes needed to improve the quality of education, and to increase the system's efficiency and accountability. These changes include curriculum reform, teacher training, and the decentralization of the Education Ministry to Autonomous Agencies and Regional Education Entities, as well as improving school management and relationships with stakeholders. 
  • A $15 million investment to expand compulsory education; build two secondary schools for up to 2,100 new students; and upgrade information technology systems within the Education Ministry to improve use of data for policy and decision making.  

The program is intended to help increase school attendance from 79 percent to 85 percent and improve students' reading, writing, and math skills. It will also help to establish a maintenance fund for school infrastructure, introduce administrative software in most schools, and finance a nationwide literacy survey.


Additionally, the program will seek to improve teaching skills through the creation of a Teaching Council that will define standards, registration and licensing procedures, and implement a code of ethics. The Jamaican Government will continue to replenish the revolving fund for continued education for teachers. As a result, the proportion of teachers with bachelor degrees is expected to increase from 20 percent in 2008 to 40 percent in 2012.


The program will also support the creation of a Parent Teacher Association to raise parental awareness and involvement, and will help put into operation a manual for security and safety expected to contribute to reduce disruptive and violent behavior among students.


This is the second education PBL the IDB approves for Jamaica. The first, for $30 million, was approved in 2008, while a third and last, also for $30 million, is expected to be approved in 2012. Both the PBL and the investment operation are for 20-year terms, with variable interest rates based on LIBOR. The PBL has a five-year grace period and the investment component a three-year grace period.

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