In Uruguay, More Than 45,000 Children to Have Access to Full-Time Schools

Kimberly Watson, Editor in Chief
September 27, 2012 /

More than 45,000 children will benefit from the Support to Uruguayan Public Schools Project approved today by the World Bank (WB) Board of Directors.

The US$40 million project will continue to support the Uruguayan Full-Time School (FTS) model through the construction, transformation and/or rehabilitation of more than 40 schools located in underprivileged or very underprivileged areas, the creation of a maintenance fund, teacher training and tracer studies, among other activities.

There are currently 170 full-time primary schools in Uruguay, which, among other things, have reduced the grade retention rate in grades 1 to 6 to 5.7 percent, below the national average of 6.1 percent. The new project will increase the number of schools to 210 and the number of beneficiaries to 56,000, including students, teachers and principals.

“Full-time schools are a tool that can be used to tackle the inequalities that exist among Uruguayan children,” said Finance and Economy Minister Fernando Lorenzo.

The Uruguayan government launched the FTS model in the mid 1990’s. Some of the model’s concrete actions include:

  • Extend the school day from 4 to 7.5 hours.
  • Improve educational infrastructure.
  • Provide breakfast, lunch and supper.
  • Introduce a new teacher training program, including time for reflection and planning during the week.
  • Introduce new educational activities for children outside the basic study program.

“For 19 years, the World Bank has been supporting the process that Uruguay has undertaken to improve the quality and equity of its primary education, which forms part of a wider agenda in the country, that of improving social inclusion,” pointed out Peter Siegenthaler, World Bank Representative in Uruguay. “Providing continuity to these programs is key to us. This new project includes lessons drawn from previous years and incorporates some elements that will expand its impact,” he added.

The project approved today provides continuity to the efforts carried out in three main areas: infrastructure, training, and monitoring and evaluation. Each one of these aspects introduces some innovative element into the program:

1)     Infrastructure Expansion and Rehabilitation – In addition to building and refurbishing 40 schools, the acquisition of equipment and educational material — aspects that it already supported —, the new project incorporates a maintenance fund for Full-Time Schools to carry out urgent repairs to items preventing the school’s correct functioning. It also provides an annual fund to all schools with five years of operation or more to cover maintenance costs and preservation in general. It is estimated that 195 schools will have access to this fund.

2)     Strengthening Teacher Training – It will provide in-service training to teachers, albeit with a renewed focus on supporting poorly performing students and the transition to secondary school. There will be continued support to reinforce the teaching of basic subjects such as Spanish, math, social science and natural science.

3)     Monitoring and Evaluation – The project foresees conducting impact studies through tracer studies, as well as an evaluation of the in-service training program for teachers. To this end, a new agency responsible for designing, programming and implementing the modernization of teacher capabilities will be created.

The National Public Education Administration (ANEP) is the agency in charge of coordinating and executing the program. The maturity period for this loan is 20.5 years, with a 15-year grace period.

 

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