World Bank Project Puts $100m Toward Education in Burma

education, World Bank

Students walk near a public school in Rangoon. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — A US$100 million World Bank-backed project will improve the quality of education for more than 8 million Burmese schoolchildren and will extend financial assistance to some 100,000 underprivileged students, a release from the global lender said on Wednesday.

The initiatives, under the Decentralizing Funding to Schools Project, were approved on Wednesday by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, and will mark the first time the lender has engaged with Burma on education.

“Improving access to quality education and focusing on the most disadvantaged and poor children in remote areas of the country, is essential to reducing poverty and development of the country,” said Kanthan Shankar, the World Bank’s country manager in Burma. “We are encouraged to see the government’s increased investment in the education sector over the last couple of years.”

Burma’s education sector deteriorated under the country’s former military regime, and reforming it has been a leading initiative of the government—currently undertaking a “Comprehensive Education Sector Review”—and the opposition National League for Democracy, which has made reform a key part of its platform.

Though spending on education has increased since the quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein took office in 2011, it is still dwarfed by the military’s budgetary allotment. In 2013, education spending amounted to 5.4 percent of the total 19 trillion kyats (US$19 billion) budget, compared with more than 12 percent spent on defense.

The World Bank-supported project, of which $80 million is being financed by the International Development Association and $20 million from the government of Australia through a multi-donor trust fund, will provide direct support to all schools under Burma’s Ministry of Education. It will expand funding for the Burmese government’s School Grants Program and Student Stipends Program, the latter of which focuses on 40 townships in Burma.

In January, the World Bank announced that it had approved a package of grants and loans to Burma worth $2 billion over a number of years, going toward projects in the energy and health care sectors.

3 Responses to World Bank Project Puts $100m Toward Education in Burma

  1. WB and Australian Government: Thanks for the USD 100 million. Big question is how much of it will go into the pockets of Burmese government in general, minister of education in particular and other local officials AND how much of it will trickle down to schools, students and improvement of the education system especially in rural areas (if it at all trickles down!)?

    The whole world and donor organizations still do not want to know or do not realize how corrupt the Burmese government n military from top to bottom was/is. They always put up a false front and say everything is for Pyithu Lu Htu (people), whereas in reality nothing is for the Poor Pyithu Lu Htu since March, 1962 up to now! Poor Pyithu Lu Htu is suffering from hunger, disease, lack of good education system and country-wide extensive medicare…and many more. My heart is bleeding for the Poor Pyithu Lu Htu of the Golden Land!

  2. It is good and encouraging but as for Burmese Muslims and Muslims Rohingya in Burma we do not see any education encouraging plan from authorities both Arakan and Thein Sein Government. As Rohingya are at the stage of state less up till now, how could Burma government can support then in education we have to look on.

    World bank money is some kind of donations from various sources mostly Australia and middle eastern countries including Turkey, why not include whole Muslims in Burma? Divide and discrimination policy should not be from World Bank.

  3. My comment is the same as that of Burmeseblood. Is there anywhere one can see the distribution or plans for the use of this money? Pretty sure the generals and cronies have their pockets wide open! Accountability, accountability is what is needed.

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