Preschool Children in Uzbekistan Extended Access to Education
Increase in enrollment of preschool children to be funded by a US $4.85 million education impact bond
A new education funding project using social impact bonds seeks to increase the number of children ages 3-7 enrolled in preschools in Uzbekistan. The planned program is made possible through a $4.85 million grant provided by the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Results-Based Approaches (GPRBA) and financed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The preschool education project is a component of the World Bank’s Promoting Early Childhood Development Project financed through a $59.5 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA), with an additional grant of $9.5 million from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Through this project, the Uzbek government aims to raise the number of children ages 3-7 in preschools from 29 percent to 40 percent in the next three years.
Access to quality early childhood education services, including preschool, can provide crucial support during the early years of a child’s development, while also facilitating their readiness for school. A World Bank study found a correlation between preschool attendance and employment outcomes, such as having a better formal sector job later in life. The social impact bond project will bring in investors’ funding to train teachers and pay for learning materials, as well as for those that are required to provide the best learning environment for the children.
This is GPRBA's first project using social impact bonds, with the objective of fostering a public-private partnership that ties financial returns and payments to rigorously measured and predefined results, intended to deliver the desired educational services in 140 private preschools in urban areas. Since the public schools are not able to provide this service to all children, the Government has opened the sector to private service provision.
Impact bonds are a type of results-based financing and an innovative form of public-private partnership that rewards investors for successfully delivering positive impact. Investors who are interested in achieving a positive social impact provide the upfront capital necessary to deliver a service. The money placed up front for social projects helps the service providers lacking cash flow to focus on service delivery and achieve results. This type of results-based financing has demonstrated the ability to attract private investment in historically “non-bankable” projects, particularly in the social and environmental sectors. The Government of Uzbekistan will then pay the investor only if and when the desired outcomes are achieved. Outcomes, in this case, are measured against the occupancy rate, enrollment of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and improved learning environments.
Given the advantages of early childhood development and education, the government is committed to eventually provide universal access to all preschool children. While barely over a quarter of preschool children currently attend preschool, this is an important step in expanding access to quality education as outlined in Sustainable Development Goal #4 (“Universal Access to Quality Education”).
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