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WASHINGTON, D.C., May 20 -- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) signed investment agreements in Lahore today to provide financing of US$10 million to the Beaconhouse School System in Pakistan for the construction of 14 schools. IFC's investment will help increase student enrollment from 29,200 to 45,200.
"With a population of 130 million and a literacy rate of only 35 percent, human resource development is an absolute necessity for the economic growth of Pakistan and we are pleased to assist the country in meeting this challenge," said Mr. André Hovaguimian, Director in IFC's Central Asia, Middle East, and North Africa Department. "This is IFC's first major education project worldwide. IFC hopes that the Beaconhouse project will provide impetus to the education sector in Pakistan."
Established in 1978, Beaconhouse operates 64 schools in 15 cities throughout Pakistan for students between the ages of 3 and 18 and prepares them for the Pakistani and Cambridge University examination boards. Free or reduced rate tuition is provided to almost 2,000 students, including handicapped children and refugees. Currently only 8 of the 64 schools have their own campuses. The balance are in rented residential premises. The project will involve building 13 schools to supplement the existing Beaconhouse schools and one pilot moderate cost school. Depending on the result of the pilot project, Beaconhouse intends to set up more moderate cost schools to serve lower income groups.
By expanding resources available to education and by promoting private participation in the sector, the project will help to reduce the financial burden on the Government of Pakistan. It is expected that the development of quality private education through the Beaconhouse project will, through competition, lead to improved standards and efficiency in both public and private schools. The project will also promote education for girls. Forty percent of Beaconhouse students are girls and women account for 70 percent of all staff and occupy most of the key positions. The Beaconhouse teacher training program run in collaboration with the University of Bradford (U.K.) will increase the pool of qualified teachers by about 3,000.
IFC's financing consists of a loan for its own account of US$7 million, a syndicated loan of US$3 million, and a risk management facility for the syndicated loan. The total project cost is US$18.55 million. FMO (Netherlands Development Finance Company) will provide the syndicated loan.
An education specialist will help Beaconhouse in implementing an action plan to ensure educational excellence. He will also organize seminars to disseminate best educational practice to other private schools in Pakistan. His services will be financed by the Government of Japan through the Japan/IFC Comprehensive Trust Fund.
IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is the largest multilateral source of equity and loan financing for private sector projects in developing countries.
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