ISLAMABAD (APP) – The World Bank has approved a $300 million loan to support Punjab in improving school participation, completion, and teaching-learning practices with a particular focus on low-performing districts.

Significant shortfalls persist in both school participation and student achievement, especially in the poorer districts of Punjab, said a statement of the World Bank issued on Saturday.

It said that a third Punjab Education Sector Project would support interventions to provide students from the poorest households with financial resources and opportunities.

These will enable nearly 3 million students to attend school at the primary and secondary levels through a combination of interventions. These include providing vouchers to attend a low-cost private school; expanding public-private partnerships to enable students to attend low-cost private schools; and providing stipends to girls to attend secondary schools.

One million out-of-school children in Punjab would also be brought into school through this project.

“Despite the gains in student learning and enrollment in Punjab, a lot more needs to be done to improve the education indicators in Punjab” says Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

“This project will help the Government of Punjab to put a greater emphasis on the teacher learning and school participation,” he added.

It will also strengthen the continuous professional development of teachers and support increased access to Early Childhood Education for children from 3-5 years of age.

“Early childhood education which leads to more children entering and staying in primary school is still nascent in the Punjab. Providing parents with early childhood classrooms with the relevant teaching and learning materials and appropriately trained teachers is critical given its impact on student participation and retention,” said Scherezad Joya Monami Latif, Task Team Leader of the project, in a statement.