The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has agreed to lend US$52 million to the Brazilian city of Manaus to help it improve the quality of pre-school and primary education in municipal schools.
The IDB funding is expected to create 6,500 additional places in pre-school and primary education centers and 1,200 places in nurseries. Strengthening the administrative capacity of the local Municipal Department of Education is also one of the IDB’s goals.
Manaus faces big challenges in education, according to the IDB. In the Primary Education Development Index, which measures both whether students achieve basic levels and whether they made progress during the school cycle, the municipality scored 4.1 for the first year of primary school and 3.1 for 2013. The averages for all of Brazil are 4.7 and 3.8, respectively.
Additionally, the test Prova Brazil showed in 2011 that only 33% of the students in the fifth grade reached the required level in the Portuguese language and only 23.4% reached the required level in mathematics. Those numbers are significantly lower than the median for Brazil: 40% and 36.3% respectively.
To begin with, local authorities will build seven nurseries, 13 pre-school centers and 13 municipal primary schools. They are also planning to replace educational facilities that are rented and in bad condition.
The program also aims to redesign testing procedure for people entering the teaching profession, strengthening the selection and training of the teachers.
Located deep inside the Amazon rainforest, Manaus is home to just two million people but it attracts a large number of tourists because of its rich flora and fauna.
Like everywhere in Brazil, education is a basic right and free in Manaus. Yet reports say that public education for children is very weak, leading many parents to enroll their children in the city’s elite private schools.