WB signs $300m deal with Bangladesh for skill development of rural youth

The government of Bangladesh and the World Bank today signed a $300 million financing agreement to equip about 900,000 economically disengaged rural youth with skills and alternative education needed for employment and entrepreneurship. About 60 per cent of them will be female.

Economic Relations Division’s secretary Sharifa Khan and World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan Abdoulaye Seck signed the agreement on behalf of the government and the World Bank, respectively.

The Economic Acceleration and Resilience for NEET (EARN) project will help overcome barriers that prevent disadvantaged and vulnerable youth from gaining education and employment, says a press release.

The project will provide skills training, alternative education, employment, and entrepreneurial support to rural youth who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET). The project will establish vocational training centers to offer a range of skills development opportunities and provide online and offline training courses in market-driven and futuristic trades.

They will be in locations convenient to rural youth, especially female. It will also and offer competitive financing and mentorship support for entrepreneurial activities. It will help secondary school dropouts, particularly female students to complete vocational secondary education.

“The youth are the future of any country. Creating a well-equipped competitive workforce, where no young person is excluded, is a critical development priority for Bangladesh,” said Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.

“The project will help develop a competitive workforce through skill development, continuity of education, and employment opportunities while addressing underlying cultural and social norms that drive exclusion, particularly for women, people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities.”

In Bangladesh, about 27 per cent of youth that is about 12.6 million people are classified as NEET. About 90 per cent of them are female, mostly living in rural areas. To enhance their employability, the project will offer skills development training for a wide range of market-relevant trades with an emphasis on modern and non-traditional trades, especially for women.

For secondary school dropped-out youth and adolescents, the project will provide access to Bangladesh Open University education programs through an accelerated curriculum. They will be able to access diploma-level technical education in fields such as nursing, medical technology, agricultural food processing and other courses. To support entrepreneurship, the project will provide seed financing, mentorship, and other relevant supports to the new entrepreneurs, adds the WB press release.

Sharifa Khan, secretary, Economic Relations Division, said, “This project is aligned with the Eighth Five-Year Plan 2021-2025 and support the country’s graduation from LDC status in 2026 and the vision 2041. It will support the government plans and policies by establishing a comprehensive support mechanism for economic engagement of the rural NEET youth, including the persons with disabilities, and segment of the population with special needs, which is essential.”

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