- Belize will receive a $15 million loan from IDB and a $5 million grant from GPE to close skill gaps and equip tomorrow’s workforce for the fourth industrial revolution.
- It is the first program in which the IDB serves as a GPE grant agent.
USA / BELIZE – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) have teamed up to transform education in Latin America and the Caribbean. As part of this initiative, the two institutions have approved a total of $20 million in financing to support the skills for the future program in Belize. The program will accelerate foundational learning, bridge the skills gap, prepare students for a changing job market, close gender gaps, and promote inclusive education.
Belize has made enormous efforts to expand primary education and teacher training. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant learning losses, and secondary students faced higher repetition and dropout rates. These challenges have overwhelmingly affected the most vulnerable children and exacerbated learning gaps. Belize also needs a skilled workforce to ensure a low-carbon, sustainable and competitive economy. The country’s reliance on agriculture, tourism, and fishing, and the exposure of critical infrastructure on the coast, increases its vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change.
The partnership between IDB and GPE brings complementary support to Belize to address those challenges through the $20 million skills for the future program. The program is comprised of a $15 million loan from IDB and a $5 million grant from GPE. The government of Belize is also contributing resources for project management and to facilitate program execution and monitoring.
The GPE funds will help close learning gaps in foundational skills at the primary school level, support education for students with disabilities, close gender gaps, and strengthen the country’s education data system, in particular, to track the progress of vulnerable groups and monitor gender equality interventions.
The grant will also carry out impact evaluations to scale up successful interventions. In addition to investing in these areas, IDB funding will help turn six high schools across the country into science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) laboratories to develop graduates who possess the fourth industrial revolution skills needed for the workforce, such as cloud computing, cyber security, and skills for the XXI century.
The program will have nationwide coverage with investments at the primary and secondary levels, including technical and vocational education and training (TVET). It will enable low-performing students from all government-financed primary schools to participate. In addition, a third of all secondary students will benefit from six STEAM laboratories and 15 secondary schools equipped with Virtual Lab technologies.
“The collaboration between IDB and GPE demonstrates the acknowledgement of education as a crucial catalyst for social and economic development in Belize, a goal that the IDB Group entirely supports,” said Rocío Medina Bolívar, IDB group country representative in Belize.
“The Global Partnership for Education is pleased to collaborate with the IDB to support the government of Belize in attaining its education goals,” said Laura Frigenti, chief executive officer of the global partnership for education. “There is no more relevant agenda for countries than to prepare today’s students for the world of tomorrow, with skills that match the challenges our world is facing.”
“I am pleased to give my endorsement to this program, which forms a crucial component of the government’s plan to establish an educational framework that equips students to thrive not just academically but in all aspects of life. One of this ministry’s primary objectives is to stimulate economic development by equipping the Belizean labor market with the essential 21st-century skills demanded by the fourth industrial revolution,” said Francis Fonseca, minister of education, culture, science, and technology of Belize.
The IDB loan has a 25-year repayment term, a five-and-a-half-year grace period, and an interest rate based on the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR).