Daily Dhaka Times: The World Bank approved additional $100 million financing to scale up its support to strengthen technical and vocational education in Bangladesh. This financing will enable 200,000 poor students to complete vocational training and diploma courses.
With this additional financing to the ongoing Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP), the World Bank’s total support to the project stands at $179 million, with co-financing of $16.7 million in grants from the government of Canada.
The project offers vocational training opportunities that respond to market demand to the poor. To date, more than 110,000 diploma students from low-income households have received stipends in 93 polytechnic institutions. In addition, nearly 70,000 short-course trainees received free 6-month vocational training in 38 trades including electrical, automotive and garments. Within six months of completing the courses, 42% of the trainees were employed.
“Bangladesh needs to create more and better jobs for the 1.3 million youths entering the labor force every year to accelerate economic growth,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh.
“The additional financing will continue to improve the quality of skills training and employability of youth in local and overseas job markets. Strong market-oriented skills will help the youths find better jobs and higher earnings.”
The additional financing will expand coverage of institutional development grants to public and private polytechnic institutions. With the financing, an increased number of private and public polytechnics will be able to improve classrooms and laboratories, and establish industrial partnerships for internships, job placement and job counselling services. The additional financing will scale up the coverage of short-course trainings.
“Strong polytechnic institutions can make a meaningful dent in the job market, when their offered courses match with the market needs,” said Md. Mokhelsur Rahman, World Bank Team Leader, Skills and Training Enhancement Project.
“For the first time in the country, the project launched the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) to assess and certify informal workforce, with no prior formal skills training or certification. Now, the project will also start an apprenticeship program in the secondary level vocational training program.”
The World Bank is the largest external funder in the education sector in Bangladesh. Currently the World Bank’s commitment in the education sector including this additional financing stands over $ 1.6 billion. Its support spans primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational levels and also focuses on out-of school-children.
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional lending arm. The terms are based on 38 years maturity with a 6-year grace period and a service charge of 0.75 percent.