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Egypt: World Bank Aids Early Childhood Education

Egypt: World Bank Supports Early Childhood Education

The World Bank's Board of Directors today approved a $20 million loan to support the Government of Egypt in providing quality early childhood education, focusing particularly on disadvantaged children.

The loan will finance an Early Childhood Education Project which seeks to increase access to kindergartens in 18 governorates. The project will help the Government of Egypt move towards the goal of expanding coverage of early childhood education from13 percent today to 60 percent by 2010.

The total cost of the project is $108 million, of which $20 million will be financed by the World Bank loan. Remaining costs will be funded by the Government of Egypt as well as contributions from international donors including the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the World Food Program (WFP).

Over the past decade, Egypt made remarkable progress in increasing enrollment rates for primary, preparatory and secondary school levels. Higher education enrollment grew rapidly, increasing by 28 percent between 1996 and 2000. Progress was also made in narrowing regional and gender disparities and introducing technology.

Nevertheless, Egypt faces several important challenges to attain the ambitious educational goals it set for the future. Access to education by poor families, particularly girls, remains a constraint to economic and social development. The current education system—from early childhood education through university—relies on teaching, curricula and learning outcomes that could be enhanced to respond more effectively to the demands of the global economy.

In response to these challenges, the Government of Egypt developed a 20-year strategy to upgrade its education system. The project’s efforts to address the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the early stages of their education supports this long-term strategy.

One component of the project will focus on enhancing quality, by supporting the development of curriculum and educational materials based on national standards. The project will also support teacher training and provision of food to improve the quality of teaching and learning in public kindergartens as well as those operated by non-governmental organizations.

Through Community Participation Grants, the project seeks to increase enrollment of disadvantaged boys and girls in kindergartens and community facilities registered with the Ministry of Social Affairs. The grants will also enhance the quality of existing programs and strengthen local communities’ ability to support these programs.

In addition, technical and financial support will be provided to strengthen the skills of central and local governments, non-governmental organizations, as well as community-based organizations.

“The Bank’s strategy for this project builds upon the Government’s strong commitment to early childhood education reform as a critical element of Egypt's agenda for economic growth and human development. The economic and social benefits of such an investment at an early stage in children’s development are substantial,” says Emmanuel Mbi, World Bank Country Director for Egypt. “This is indeed an opportunity to share our experience and together with our partners to demonstrate our support for the development of Egyptian society."

The proposed project is consistent with the Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy for Egypt fighting poverty and strengthening human resources. The project design involved active collaboration between the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Affairs, governorates and local communities.

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