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World Bank announces Shs189b loan to boost education in Uganda

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Pupils play in class. World Bank vice president for African region Makhtar Diop

Pupils play in class. World Bank vice president for African region Makhtar Diop says despite increased enrollment, the quality of education in Uganda remains poor. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa 

By  MARTIN LUTHER OKETCH

Posted  Thursday, December 12  2013 at  02:00
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Kampala- The World Bank has said it is about to approve a $75 million (about Shs189 billion) loan to boost education in Uganda and provide the necessary skills for the country’s sustainable economic development.
The international body says the fund will become operational early next year such that Ugandans can begin utilising it to address the skills gap, which it says is hindering the country’s plans of economic transformation and becoming a middle income economy.

Addressing a news conference in Kampala on Tuesday, the World Bank vice president for African region, Mr Makhtar Diop, said: “The World Bank is working on a $75 million loan targeting the skill development issue in Uganda.”

Uganda’s Vision 2040 aspiration of quality workforce will depend on the quality of education services. Unfortunately, Mr Diop said the quality of education in Uganda despite increased enrollment, remains poor and as such there is need to improve the quality of basic education.

Today, amid widespread joblessness on the one hand and serious skills shortage on the other, especially in African countries, Mr Diop said the World Bank is more committed than ever before to expanding opportunities for children and youth and nations alike, through education.

The World Bank is one of the largest external education financiers for developing countries, currently managing a portfolio of $8.9 billion with operations in 70 countries, including Uganda.

In the context of modern economic and development trends, the role of workforce skills acquires special significance viewed from the perspectives of both Life-long Learning and the Knowledge Economy.
Life-long Learning highlights the need to see learning as a range, one beginning with formal education and continuing after school with skill acquisition and skills upgrading in the workplace, and re-training in moving between jobs.

Recent report reveals that institutions of higher education in sub-Saharan Africa must balance the need to raise education quality with increasing social demand for access to education.
Mr Diop advised that Uganda should increase investment in its human capital development using resources from the natural resources as well as improving efficiency in public spending.

Uganda's external debt standing

Uganda’s volume of external debt by March 2013 was $3.76 billion (about Shs9.5 trillion) outstanding and disbursed, while $2.04 billion (about Shs5.1 trillion) was committed but had not yet been disbursed.

However, Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka said Uganda’s external debt is still sustainable and that the bulk of debt is concessional in nature which attracts only attracts a fixed interest rate of 1 per cent.

In October, the government revealed that it had found a new debt strategy to contain the country’s growing external debt.

State minister for finance in charge of planning Matia Kasaija, while meeting the parliamentary committee on national economy over the ministry signing Sh1.3trillion loans without parliamentary approval, said the strategy will guide government in current debt stock, and future borrowing.

moketch@ug.nationmedia.com