July 08, Colombo: The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has signed a US$50 million public sector loan agreement with Sri Lanka to support the country's Technological Education Development Program, which aims to improve the provision of technology disciplines in more than 300 secondary schools.
The agreement was signed by OFID Director-General Suleiman J Al-Herbish and Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media on 3rd July at the Headquarters of OFID in Vienna, Austria.
The Sri Lankan government recently introduced the 13 year mandatory education policy. It is compulsory to provide required infrastructure facilities and equipment with modern technology for practical activities as well as training of teachers.
Sri Lanka's educational program includes the construction of new buildings and the renovation of existing facilities, as well as upgrading/purchasing equipment.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Education expects to construct technical laboratories and provide required machinery and equipment to the schools through the project.
Also envisaged is a capacity-building component for teachers, education officers and curriculum developers. By helping develop pathways from secondary education to vocational training, the program is expected to boost youth employability in productive disciplines.
The total cost of the project is US$ 60.70 million. The OFID has agreed to provide a loan of US$ 50.0 million while the remaining US$ 10.70 will be borne by Government.
At the signature ceremony, Al-Herbish said that quality education underpins progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which OFID has committed to. He also noted the loan agreement builds on a long-established partnership between OFID and Sri Lanka, which began over 40 years ago. OFID's approvals to Sri Lanka total more than US$430 million across all of the organization's lending windows. In addition, a number of national and regional grants have helped boost living standards and promote socioeconomic development.
Dr Samaratunga also described how OFID had been a strategically important partner of Sri Lanka for many years. He explained the importance of vocational training in science, technology, research and other areas in helping to boost Sri Lanka's development
It is expected that that around 10,000 students per year will benefit from the program, as well as 1,600 administrators and teachers.