GABON: Higher education loan to enhance skills

The African Development Bank has approved a US$154 million loan to the West African nation of Gabon, to finance a higher education and vocational training support project aimed at boosting the country's efforts to enhance technical skills in potential growth sectors. The project will benefit 1,000 higher and 4,000 technical education students a year.

The institutional reforms and skills development activities will involve 11 higher education institutions - three universities, five higher professional schools and three research institutes - and 21 technical and vocational education institutions, the bank said in a statement.

The Public Services Higher Education and Vocational Training Support Project will be implemented over five years. The loan will finance 90% of the costs, with the government providing the remaining 10%.

Through system reforms, it aims to train middle- and senior-level personnel, increase school admission capacity countrywide, improve the quality and relevance of programmes - "and, consequently, the effectiveness of public resources allocated to the education sector, as well as gradual reduction of expenditures on scholarships for studies abroad" , the bank said.

It expects the direct beneficiaries to be students in the country's three universities as well as those in higher professional schools and institutes, and in industrial and rural technical and vocational education "where female students will be offered training possibilities in much more diversified areas".

The skills of 468 teachers, supervisory staff and heads of institutions will be developed, as will the administrative and financial management skills of 134 technical officers of the supervisory ministry and training institutions, enhancing governance in the sector.

The bank said the project was in line with its strategic orientation in governance, with its National Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy, and with it Higher Education, Science and Technology Strategy.