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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 16:49 GMT
World Bank backs $100m Iraq loan
Elementary school in Baghdad
The World Bank says Iraq's schools were once among the region's best
The World Bank has approved a $100m (57.8m) loan to Iraq to help reduce overcrowding in the country's schools.

The loan, the international lender's first to Iraq in more than 30 years, will finance the building of some 82 primary and secondary schools.

It will also be used to support Iraqi government educational reforms in the worn-torn country.

The World Bank evacuated its staff from Iraq in 2003 after the United Nations headquarters were bombed in Baghdad.

Overcrowding

The World Bank said Iraq's educational system, once considered to be among the best in the Middle East, had "deteriorated over the last 20 years".

"School overcrowding is a main contributor to low school enrolment rates," said the World Bank's project team leader Peter Buckland.

"There are twice as many teachers as classrooms and nearly 20% of primary and secondary schools operate in double or even triple shifts," he said.

The loan, which was approved by the World Bank's executive board on Tuesday, is part of $500m in previously announced aid to Iraq.

It will be provided through the International Development Association, an arm of the World Bank set up to deal with many of the world's poorest countries.




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