The World Bank has approved US$1 billion in grants and loans to promote free primary education and access to health care in Democratic Republic of Congo.
The bank’s board of executive directors approved $800 million to help support free primary education in the DRC’s poorest provinces, mainly in the east and centre of the country and the capital Kinshasa.
The funding comprises credit of $444 million and a grant of $356 million, it said in a statement received Tuesday.
In another decision approved on Monday, $200 million was approved for improving response to health emergencies in 14 provinces, especially for mothers and children.
It comprises credit of $121 million and a grant of $79 million.
The schools funding “will help the government roll out the reform on free primary education by strengthening governance systems and the quality of instruction,” World Bank education specialist Scherezad Joya Monami Latif said.
“It will enable over nine million children to re-enrol and stay in school when schools reopen after the (coronavirus) lockdown, and will provide access to school for more than a million poor children currently excluded from the education system.”
Schools and universities have been closed since March 24 under emergency measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
President Felix Tshisekedi’s promise to provide free primary education has been estimated to cost $2.6 billion — between 40 and 50 percent of the state budget.
On February 14, he also put forward a plan for “universal health coverage.”
Both schemes have been overshadowed by the coronavirus crisis, which is likely to cause growth to fall from 4.4 percent in 2019 to minus 2.2 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).