KABUL - The Ministry of Finance signed on Sunday an agreement with the World Bank (WB) for a $50 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). This is the initial tranche of a $73 million grant approved for the Ministry of Education. The additional grant will provide further support to the ongoing Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP).
Since its inception in 2006, the two phases of the program (EQUIP I and II) have supported the construction or rehabilitation of over 1,600 schools throughout the country. Of these, some 50 percent have been completed while the rest are under construction.
About 100,000 teachers and over 6,500 principals and headmasters/mistresses have been trained as part of the program, aimed at increasing equitable access to quality education, especially for girls.
Minister of Finance Dr. Omar Zakhilwal said after the signing ceremony: "Investing in education today will guarantee a prosperous and stable future for Afghanistan."
He praised the international community's assistance in laying the institutional foundation for the education sector, helping Afghanistan open more schools and improving the quality of education by building our teachers' capacity.
"Despite Afghanistan's impressive achievements in the education sector over the past couple of years, many challenges remain," said Minister of Education Dr. Ghulam Farooq Wardak.
He said opportunities for most children beyond primary school were extremely limited, and sending female teachers to remote areas was a challenge.
Josephine Bassinette, the World Bank's acting country director for Afghanistan, remarked: "Improving the quality of education is a critical ingredient for human capital development, poverty alleviation and economic growth."
EQUIP was initially financed by the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) in 2006. IDA has so far committed $65 million grant for the program whereas ARTF donors' contribution, including the new grant, reaches over $158 million.