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Sri Lanka to get US$100mn for science education, innovation

ECONOMYNEXT – World Bank Group is considering lending Sri Lanka $100 million to expand higher education including increasing enrollment in priority areas for economic development like science, engineering and mathematics, and promoting innovation.

The loans will be from the International Development Association (IDA), and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) of the World Bank for the Accelerating Higher Education Expansion and Development (AHEAD) Operation.

A Finance Ministry statement said the proposed programme aims to increase enrollment in higher education programmes that are important for an aspiring upper middle income country.

It also aims to “develop the higher education sector in areas of vital importance for future economic development such as modern teaching and learning that blends academic achievement with good socio-emotional skills and a vibrant research and innovation culture that supports the expansion and growth of higher-value industries and services.”

AHEAD focuses on three result areas. One is increasing enrolment in higher education in priority areas for economic development like Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, known as STEM. The second is improving the quality of higher education, and third is promoting research, development and innovation, the statement said.

The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Higher Education and Highways throughout the period of 2017-2022.

Depending on the availability of World Bank funds to Sri Lanka, it has been proposed to obtain two financing facilities from IDA and IBRD.

One is a ‘Credit of Special Drawing Rights’ (SDR) being the equivalent of $33 million from the International Development Association and the other a credit of $67 million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The financing and loan agreements were signed on Monday at the Ministry of Finance by R. H. S Samarathunga, secretary to the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka and Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, on behalf of the World Bank.
(COLOMBO, July 17, 2017)

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