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Report No.: AB5379

Project Name

Education for All - Fast Track Initiative Program




Primary education (80%), Secondary Education (20%)

Project ID




Implementing Agency

Ministry of National Education

Tel: (245) 320-5481

Ministry of National Education



Tel: (245) 320-5481

Environment Category

[ ] A [X] B [ ] C [ ] FI [ ] TBD (to be determined)

Date PID Prepared

January 21, 2010

Estimated Date of Appraisal Authorization

March 10, 2010

Estimated Date of Board Approval

July 30, 2010

  1. Key development issues and rationale for Bank involvement

Despite impressive increase in coverage in recent years, the education outcomes are strikingly poor. With nearly 300,000 students enrolled in primary and secondary education in 2006, the education system holds today twice as many students as in 1996. In primary education, the number of students more than doubled over the same period, from 105,430 to 269,287. As a result, Gross Enrollment Rate (GER) in primary education has steadily increased from 53 percent in 1996 to 103 percent in 2006, reflecting the growing accommodation capacity of the system (Figure 1). Secondary education has followed a similar pattern. The number of students enrolled in this level of education more than tripled between 1996 and 2006, rising from 15,000 to 54,000. The private sector, with 12.4 percent of enrollments in 2006, played a catalytic role in this expansion, as the government investment in the sector remained very modest.1 This increase in coverage, particularly in recent years, is a result of the unprecedented public effort to increase the supply of new classrooms and to stimulate demand. It is also associated with the growing involvement of private providers and local communities in the provision of primary education service.2
The gender gap in primary education has been closing, but disparities still remain. Increased enrollment in primary education was favored by an overall positive trend in girls’ enrollment. The gender gap has been gradually closing, to a ratio of 0.9 girls per enrolled boy. In 2006, girls represented about 47 percent of enrollments in primary education. Compared to1996, this represents a 6 percent increase in the share of girls to boys. However, girls’ enrollment drops off at higher levels of the education system. In secondary education, girls are underrepresented. They account for only 39 percent of enrollments nationwide, with great disparities between regions. Their share in enrollment ranges from 25 percent in Oio to 42 percent in Bissau.

The completion rate in primary education is very low. It was estimated at 42 percent in 2006. Figure 2 below shows the discrepancy between enrollment and completion in primary education. While the GER has steadily increased in recent years, the completion rate has increased only modestly. The low completion rate is a result of a low survival rate across the primary education system. In 2006, only 58 percent of the cohort of children who had entered primary school four years earlier was retained through grade four. Not surprisingly, education attainment in Guinea-Bissau, measured as the average years of schooling, is only six years.

Repetition and dropout rates are high. Although the repetition rate has been declining,3 it is still relatively high across the system. In primary education, the average repetition rate is 15.2 percent. In secondary education, 13 percent of all enrolled students in 2006 were repeaters. Repetition is high at all grades of primary education, even in those where it should have been an exception.4 In 2006, 17.2 percent of students in grade one and 13 percent of those in grade three were repeaters. The high repetition rate imposes a significant cost on the education system because scarce public resources are wasted. If one considers the overall budget allocated to primary education in 2006, the cost of repetition is CFAF 264 million (approximately US$ 525,000). To make things worse, the system is also hit by frequent dropping out of students across different levels. In 2006, the dropout rate in primary education was estimated to be 7 percent. The dropout rate is mainly associated with students’ and parents’ dissatisfaction with the quality of education, as well as with changes in perceptions by parents about the value of the school.

The quality of education is low. Guinea-Bissau does not apply a student learning assessment system to track learning achievements of its students, nor does it participate in any regional or international learning assessment process; hence, there is no objective way to measure learning achievement of students. The common perception, however, is that learning achievement is very low. The limited number of days schools are open, and the insufficient exposure of students to learning, the poor learning environment and the inadequate teacher training and motivation are perceived as the main factors that affect students’ learning outcomes5. The language of instruction is also an issue. While the official language of instruction is Portuguese, in many classrooms programs are taught in part in Creole (the national language), as many teachers have not mastered the official language.

The learning environment is poor. Despite considerable efforts made in recent years to provide low-cost classrooms to a growing number of primary school students, 32 percent of classrooms at the primary level are still considered to be in bad shape. Many classrooms are categorized as barracas (shacks made of palm leaves or bamboo) that flood when the rains come. Textbooks are sorely lacking as they have not been distributed to students since 2004, when the World Bank-financed Basic Education Support Project (BESP) closed. The ratio of one textbook per student in the principal subjects that had been achieved in the 2002–2003 academic year has vanished.6 In secondary education, the curriculum has not been revised for decades and there is no harmonized curriculum throughout the system. Each school chooses and implements its own curriculum, some of which are of questionable relevance. Textbooks are practically non-existent and most of the time students are forced to use texts prepared by their teachers [apontamentos] in lieu of textbooks.

Teachers’ qualifications and performance levels need to be improved. Teachers are at the center of any education system. In Guinea-Bissau, the substantial increase in enrollment in recent years has put enormous pressure on the recruitment of new teachers. The number of teachers in primary education has increased from 3,269 in 2001 to 4,327 in 2006. Teacher training programs have not kept up with the demand because of the low capacity of the two teacher training colleges7. As a result, contractual teachers have been hired. In 2006, contractual teachers represented 20 percent of active primary education teachers. While this responded to the quantitative needs of teachers in the system, there remained great concerns regarding the qualifications of these teachers. About 63 percent of contractual teachers did not have the appropriate pedagogical training. Most of them were recruited locally and did not hold adequate academic training. The same is true for secondary education, where the only existing teacher training college [Escola Tchico Té] trained an average of 80 teachers annually between 2001 and 2005, against an estimated demand of 120.

The management of the system in recent years has been tumultuous. There is no recent memory of a school year that has begun on time (e.g. in respect of the school calendar approved by the MoE); has gone without relatively long paralysis due to teachers’ strikes; and has closed on time. This turbulent picture is in large part due to the government inability to pay teachers’ salaries on time. Arrears of salary payments are recurrent in the sector. Although all civil servants are affected by this constraint, the education system is perhaps the area where the crisis is most visible. The very influential teachers’ unions in the sector and the relatively high sensitivity of education issues have made the sector a permanent battlefield between teachers and the various governments, and the management of the system suffers as a result.

Investment expenditure remains low. In 2008, current expenditure represented 93 of total education expenditure. Investment expenditure has been historically low compared to regional and international standards, and depends essentially on external sources.8 Investment expenditure in education was estimated at CFAF 1.7 billion (or 1.3 percent of GDP) in 2003. It then rose to CFAF 2.7 billion (1.9 percent of GDP) in 2004, only to fall to CFAF 1 billion (0.7 percent of GDP) in 2005. In 2008, government investment expenditure in education represented 2 percent of the total government public investment expenditure.

As mentioned above, Guinea-Bissau education sector is confronted by challenges that defy easy solutions. The country has acknowledged that given the current status of its education system, the achievement of universal primary education by 2015 is out of reach, and has therefore postponed that goal to 2020. But even the materialization of this objective is not granted, unless bold actions are taken now. There is an urgent need to support the country efforts by providing resources that will help the implementation of priority interventions outlined in the Education Sector Plan. The Bank’s broad experience in supporting EFA programs in many countries has useful lessons for Guinea Bissau.

The proposed project is consistent with the Bank Interim Strategy Note (ISN) for Guinea-Bissau. The ISN (June 2009) identified “increasing access to basic services, especially in rural areas”, as a key pillar to boost economic growth and alleviate poverty in Guinea-Bissau. It also refers to the expected mobilization of CF resources under the EFA-FTI to strengthen education services through school rehabilitation and construction, curriculum development, and teachers training.

The Bank has a tradition of policy dialogue in the education sector in Guinea-Bissau. The Bank has supported education projects and carried out with the government a range of Economic and Sector Work (ESW) to inform policy dialogue in the sector. It is worth mentioning the US$ 14m Basic Education Support Project (1997-2004) and the Emergency Public Service Delivery Project (2008-2009). The former funded essentially the construction and rehabilitation of about 500 classrooms, the purchase and distributions of textbooks to primary education students, and in-service teacher training. Although it was not part of the original project, part of the project resources was channeled to pay teachers’ salary in 2004 due to the government inability to do so. The latter project had a single component: the payment of salaries to primary education teachers. The ESWs included the Social Sectors Review Note (2008), the Education Country Status Report (2009) and the PEMFAR (2009).

  1. Proposed objective(s)

The proposed development objective of the project is to contribute to the improvement of basic education service delivery, with a focus on greater efficiency, better quality and improved sector governance.

  1. Preliminary description

The proposed project anticipates four components:

Component 1: Stabilizing the Education System (US$ 27 million)

This component aims at supporting the normal and smooth functioning of the school years during the period of project implementation. The expected results include the cessation of the recurrent disturbances that have affected the education system in Guinea-Bissau and the reaching of a number of school days per year acceptable by international standards. This will be achieved through the provision of financial support to the government to pay teachers' salaries for the duration of the project, and the more rational use of teachers and educational facilities. Students will be the primary beneficiary of this component as they will have greater exposure to learning. Table x below gives the estimated wage bill of all primary and secondary education teachers during the period 2010-2013.

The payment of salaries to teachers is a critical action to stabilize the education system. In the short term, this action will relieve the pressure on the government to ensure the timely payment of teacher salaries in a context of lack of financial resources. It is expected that in the medium term the resumption of economic growth combined with the anticipated outcomes of the ongoing reform of the army and security forces as well as the civil servants reform will leverage resources to ensure sustainability of this intervention9.
Component 2: Improving Access and Equity in Primary Education (US$ 10 million)

This component aims at increasing the supply of education across the country, with an emphasis on rural areas where enrollment in primary education is weak. The component also aims to contribute to higher demand for education, especially by girls of poor families, in areas where demand for education is low. The project will finance the construction and equipment of 600 classrooms (100 classrooms in year 1; 250 classrooms in year 2; and 250 classrooms in year 3), thereby allowing the enrollment of additional 20,000 children in primary education, and increasing the daily working hours of 24,000 students currently enrolled in a triple shift regimen (representing 50 percent of the total number of primary education students enrolled in a triple shift regimen). The project will also finance the rehabilitation of 400 classrooms to eliminate classrooms made by non-durable materials and improve the infrastructure of 60 schools in rural areas.

This project component will also contribute to address the shortage of qualified teachers currently in the education system. Given the need to accelerate the training of teachers in order to keep pace with the increasing number of students in primary education, the project will support the strengthening of the national capacity of teacher training through the construction of two teacher training schools, one in the North of the country and another in the Eastern part of the country, with a combined capacity of training of 250 teachers. Finally, the Project, with the participation of NGOs, will support awareness campaigns among rural communities towards the enrollment of school-age children in schools, particularly girls.
Component 3: Improving the Quality of Education (US$ 8 million)
The objective of this component is to create a better learning environment for primary education and lower secondary education students. The project will intervene in the areas of textbooks, pre-service and in-service teacher training and school inspection.

Textbooks. The project will finance the costs of printing and distribution of free textbooks to all primary education students. The printing and distribution of textbooks will be coordinated by Editora Escolar (EE, the School Printing House). The curriculum of lower secondary education will be reviewed, and the newly harmonized curriculum will be implemented in all secondary education schools (public, private and community). The review and harmonization of curricula in secondary education will be coordinated by the National Institute for Educational Development (INDE), which will ensure, through competitive methods, the recruitment of experts in curriculum development. An international technical assistance will be recruited to support this process. The Project will finance a trip to Portugal and/or Brazil for managers and curriculum development experts from the MoE to identify books that are adapted to the new curriculum. These books will be purchased and distributed to secondary education students. The project will support the institutional assessment of EE to help redefine its roles in the chain of design-printing-distribution of textbooks, and recommend measures for its sustainability.
Pre-service and in-service teachers training. The project will support the curriculum reform in primary education teacher training schools, by revising the duration of training, which will decrease from three years to one and a half year, and by introducing new contents (like the HIV/AIDS). This will be accompanied by increased training of trainers. With regard to in-service training, the component will support the capitalization of the experience of the Comissões de Estudo (COMES, Study Sessions for Teachers) developed under the Basic Education Support Project. The training will be coordinated centrally by INDE and at regional levels by the Unidades de Apoio Pedagógico (UAPs, Educational Support Units (UAPs) at regional level, in close collaboration with the teacher training schools. These institutions will receive the necessary support in terms of equipment, materials and technical assistance to strengthen their capacity for planning, implementation and evaluation of training activities.

Pedagogical supervision of schools and sector studies. In parallel with the reform of the pre-service and in-service teacher training, the component will support the Ministry of Education to define a strategy for school supervision. 106 inspectors of primary education will be trained and the legal framework of inspection services established. The component will also support a number of studies aimed at improving the learning outcomes of students (the use of national languages in education, the evaluation system, a strategy for special education, etc.)

Component 4: Management and Capacity Development of the Education Sector (US$ 5 million)

The objective of this component is to help the education sector respond to the challenge of better service delivery. The component will support capacity building of central and decentralized structures, by better defining the role and functions of these structures, by providing training of key education staff at different levels, and by improving the function of monitoring and evaluation.

Improving the management of the education system. An important aspect of management of education is the identification of relevant actors in the education system (teachers, school directors, inspectors, sector and regional directors of education), a clear definition of their roles and responsibilities and the management tools for them to fulfill their functions. The component will support this process and a pilot experiment using this approach to improve the management of education in two regions of the country. The project will also support the strengthening of the administrative and financial functions as well as the human resources management in the Ministry of Education. More specifically, the project will support the strengthening of the personnel management system through the improvement of the Individual Staff Record [Processo Individual do Funcionário], and the harmonization of MOE database on personnel with that of the Ministry of Finance and of the Ministry of Public Administration.

Training of staff at central and decentralized levels. The component will support the training of the central, regional and local staff in relevant areas of the education sector (design and evaluation of education policy, planning and management, education statistics, etc.). These training activities will be mainly implemented in the country in partnership with some regional or international training institutions to be identified. The component will support a program to attract and retain young professionals in the education sector (the Young Professional Program) through competitive recruitment on a contractual basis in priority areas of the sector. The young professionals will be recruited with precise terms of reference and for a defined period of time. They will benefit from various incentives, including training, and by the end of the contract period successful young professionals will be offered a civil servant status.
Monitoring and evaluation. This component will also support the strengthening of monitoring and evaluation function in the sector. The statistical department of the MoE will receive institutional support in order to be able to carry out its functions of planning and coordination of the process of data collection, treatment and production of education statistics.

  1. Safeguard policies that might apply

No major environmental issues foreseen. To be determined during preparation

  1. Tentative financing




International Development Association (IDA)





  1. Contact point

Contact: Geraldo Joao Martins

Title: Senior r Education Spec.

Tel: 5352+4130 / 221-33-859-4130

Fax: (221) 849-50-27 / Dama: 5+352+4157


Location: Dakar, Senegal (IBRD)

1 The growth of private schools providing secondary education has been remarkable. In 2000, private schools accounted for 6 percent of enrollments.

2 The number of primary schools grew from 650 to 1,334 over the same period (an increase of about 100 percent). Today, community and private schools represent respectively 20 and 12 percent of all primary schools in the country.

3 In 1996, the repetition rate was estimated at 31 percent in primary education and the dropout rate was 35 percent.

4 The rule in primary education stipulates that students in grades one, three, and five must benefit from automatic promotion to the following grade. This rule, however, is not respected by many teachers.

5 It is estimated that teachers’ strikes and other perturbations of the system disrupted about 35 percent of the officially planned number of school days in 2007/2008. As a result of these disruptions, curriculum coverage is often incomplete and, consequently, students’ learning is negatively affected.

6 During the life of the BESP, textbook printing was supported by the project. After the project closed in 2004, the government was unable to pay the costs of reprinting and therefore textbooks were no longer printed for distribution to students.

7 The two colleges graduated 120 new teachers in 2006, while the estimated needs were 580 teachers.

8 Capital expenditure on education between 1998 and 2005 was guaranteed by a few partners as follows (US$ million): World Bank (14.5), Plan International (6.0), World Food Program (1.9), and UNICEF/FNUAP (4.0).

9 As part of the peace building efforts, international donors, led by the United Nations, are supporting the reform of the armed and security forces aimed at downsizing the army and smoothly reinserting the demobilized militaries into civil life.

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