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Staff Correspondent
The government and Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday signed $610 million agreements to fund two different projects for the development of the primary education sector and urban primary healthcare services.
Out of the total amount, the Manila-based lending agency will provide $500 million loan to support Bangladesh’s Fourth Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP-4) that aims to provide quality education to all children from pre-primary to grade 5.
Besides, it will also provide additional $110 million for improving access to urban primary healthcare services in Bangladesh through public-private partnerships (PPPs).
Kazi Shofiqul Azam, Senior Secretary, Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Manmohan Parkash, Country Director, ADB, signed the agreement on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB.
The signing ceremony was held at National Economic Council (NEC) conference room in the capital.
“This assistance will support the government to provide access to quality health services, especially for poor households in urban areas,” said Country Director Manmohan Parkash.
“The assistance for Fourth Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP 4) will help improve primary education quality, equity, access and retention,” he said.
The PEDP 4 is expected to directly benefit 18.6 million students, and about 340,000 teachers and more than 65,000 schools that are under the management of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education.
The programme aims to reduce double-shift operations at schools by recruiting more teachers and building more classrooms, step up teacher education and provide needs-based training for teachers and teacher educators, reform examinations and assessments, as well as enrich teaching and learning resources such as with digital materials.
It will also expand education services for out-of-school children through learning centers, bring more children with special education needs and disabilities to schools, improve school-level performance and management, and strengthen institutions.
To improve learning environment, the programme will provide gender-segregated and disability-accessible sanitation and safe water in almost all schools. New construction and major retrofitting will meet disaster risk resilience requirements, especially in disaster-prone areas.
The additional loan will support the Urban Primary Healthcare Services Delivery Project approved in 2012. The additional financing will cover the cost of a 5-year extension to assist the government to strengthen local health systems and continue to expand the PPP model of contracting to service providers.
It expands coverage to an additional city and 10 municipalities, and will build eight additional reproductive healthcare centers and 24 primary healthcare centers. The sustainability of health services will be ensured through a series of management, institutional, and staffing reforms. The additional financing will build on previous efforts toward climate change mitigation by adopting solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and flood drainage.
The current project covers 10 cities and four municipalities representing about 17% of the total 57 million urban population.
According to a review in 2015, the project has been providing services to more than 23 million clients, of whom 74% were female, and has constructed a network of 180 health facilities and 224 satellite clinics. The project is also building experience in the management and contracting of health service delivery, as well as monitoring and evaluation systems. The review concluded that the project merits continuation and expansion to ensure that the growing demand for healthcare in urban areas is met.
The project is recognized as an innovative model of partnership between the government, which contracts out health service delivery, and service providers (mainly nongovernment organizations). As originally financed in 2012 with a $50 million ADB loan and $20 million co-financing, it is one of the largest PPP projects for primary healthcare delivery in South Asia.