"The Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) have just confirmed a $15 million (nearly XAF9.27 billion) donation to our country, for the second phase of a Paszep, a project we've been running in Cameroon for several years," announces Minister of Basic Education (Minedub) Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa.
He announced the opening of a regional peer exchange workshop, held in Yaounde yesterday, to draw up a partnership agreement between Cameroon, Mauritania, and Togo. Paszep aims to contribute to improving access, equity, and quality of schooling in priority education zones (Zep), namely the Adamaoua, North, Far North, and East regions. These zones are characterized by low primary school access, retention, and completion.
The overall envelope already mobilized for the second phase of the project amounts to 60 million dollars, or a little over XAF37 billion, the Minedub says. Tahina Razafindramary, GPE Regional Director, explains that the project is co-financed by the IDB and BADEA, to the tune of $15 million. The other $45 million, she adds, was raised through GPE's multiplier fund, an innovative financing mechanism that leverages funding from other players. Part of this money will be used to implement the "priority reform" determined by Cameroon to accelerate progress in the education sector, she adds.
Building and equipping schools
The $60 million is allocated as part of the Arab Coordination Group's Smart Education Financing Initiative (ACG SmartEd), we learn. Set up in December 2021 by the GPE and the ACG (a consortium of Arab development finance institutions), the SmartEd initiative has mobilized $500 million for education in low-income countries. On May 13, the GPE and the IDB declared that more than half of this funding, i.e. $280 million, would be allocated to Cameroon, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The aim is to "support effective and sustainable programs that will enable millions more boys and girls to go to school and learn," said GPE in a press release.
As a reminder, Cameroon had requested and obtained XAF8 billion (16 million dollars) from the IDB to finance Paszep activities. A loan agreement was signed to this effect on June 26, 2014, on the sidelines of the 39th session of the annual meeting of the IDB Board of Governors in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The funding was earmarked in particular for the construction and equipment of 40 schools to reduce pupil/teacher and pupil/classroom ratios, the construction of 120 housing units for principals, the connection of these schools to the drinking water distribution network, the solar electrification of said schools, the supply of IT equipment and teaching materials and the training of educational staff.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem