The World Bank Board of Directors approved a project to improve public education in Uruguay, which will benefit some 665,000 students, 50,000 teachers and 3,800 directors of public primary, secondary and vocational schools in the country.
The US$ 40 million Strengthening Pedagogy and Governance in Uruguayan Public Schools Project will contribute to implementing the new skills-based curriculum through teacher training, professionalization of school directors, and adaptation of school infrastructure to respond to students’ learning needs, with a focus on the most vulnerable students.
Robert Silva, President of the National Administration of Public Education (ANEP) said, “For decades, we have worked with the World Bank to develop strategies that have benefited the country’s education system, whether through teacher training or the extension of school hours in vulnerable contexts. These coordinated actions need to be continued to address national problems, generating new opportunities for thousands of children whose learning – and thus their future possibilities – is affected.”
Uruguay has significantly improved children’s access to education in recent years. Despite these advances, challenges related to education quality and equity persist, which especially affect students from the poorest sectors. According to the World Bank’s Learning Poverty indicator, 42 percent of 10-year-olds in Uruguay are unable to read and understand a simple text. Learning difficulties begin early in children’s schooling, hindering the accumulation of human capital for future growth.
Jordan Schwartz, World Bank Director for Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay said, “Despite Uruguay’s progress in terms of universalizing education, students from lower-income groups continue to face considerable inequality of opportunity in the education system, which disproportionately affects their learning outcomes and impedes them from gaining the necessary skills for success in a changing labor market. The project design contributes to reducing inequalities, supports coordination between educational levels, facilitates the smooth transition of students, and allows them to better prepare for a context of ongoing technological changes.”
As part of the process of the ongoing transformation of the Uruguayan education curriculum, the project will develop pedagogical activities, courses and workshops that allow primary, secondary and vocational education teachers to update their skills to work within the framework of the new skills-based curriculum. It will also contribute to improving school governance, providing directors with the management tools they need to better perform their duties and to promote pedagogical innovations spearheaded by teachers, directors and students that can be subsequently taken to a national scale. Finally, primary school facilities will be improved, especially those in the poorest sectors.
These infrastructural reforms will enable schools to shift from single to extended schedules, and to offer their students more learning time. All these actions are designed to achieve more resilient, autonomous schools that plan for and guarantee better learning for all.
Project financing comes from a variable spread loan with a maturity period of 14.5 years and a grace period of five years.