OREANDA-NEWS. On October 10, 2008 The World Bank and the Russian Federation committed to improve the quality of basic education through the US32 million Russia Education Aid for Development (READ) Trust Fund, and in supporting an international program in financial literacy and financial education through the US 15 million Russia Financial Literacy program, reported the press-centre of World Bank.

The signing of the two Trust Fund agreements by President Robert B. Zoellick and Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Aleksey Kudrin, following a meeting on bilateral cooperation programs, was a sign of the growing partnership between the World Bank and Russian Federation on multilateral initiatives.

“Given the current global financial crisis,” said Shigeo Katsu, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, in the meeting held today during the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings, “Russia’s contributions are timely and well targeted on critical issues not just for low-income countries but the world economy.  

The Russia Education Aid for Development (READ) Trust Fund will improve the quality of education, particularly in Central Asia and Africa, while the Russia Financial Literacy Trust Fund will support an international initiative aimed at improving the financial literacy of citizens.  Well educated citizens who can make sound financial decisions constitute an important enabling as well as authorizing environment to sound macroeconomic policies and financial regulations by governments. These contributions represent Russia’s growing role as an emerging donor using multilateral mechanisms to help low-income countries of the world.”

The READ Trust Fund will support a joint Russia-World Bank 5 year long program in the amount of US32 million to help low-income countries improve the quality of basic education and learning outcomes. Through collaboration with the Bank on READ, Russia aims to expand its role as an emerging donor in education, helping Angola, Ethiopia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mozambique, Tajikistan, Vietnam, and Zambia. The goal of the READ Trust Fund is to strengthen in-country capacity to measure and assess student learning and use assessment results for improvement of teaching and learning in countries participating in the Fast Track Initiative (FTI).

The READ Trust Fund will build capacity in countries’ education ministries or other basic education institutions, to integrate learning objectives into countries’ Education Sector Plans, measure learning outcomes through student assessments, evaluate the impact of policies or interventions on student learning, review results against nationally-agreed learning goals, use outcomes to improve teaching and learning, and feed the lessons back into sector plans.

The READ Trust Fund would fund analytical work and technical assistance at the country level to support the seven selected countries, and would also fund activities at the global level – namely, generating and disseminating global knowledge, including a sound framework and good practice approaches for improving learning through assessments. The READ Trust Fund would complement existing external funding sources available to FTI countries’ education sectors, by being a source that is singularly dedicated to improving quality of education and learning outcomes through student assessment.

Separate from the Trust Fund, another element of the overall READ program includes development of Russian capacity to deliver aid in education. Russia as a new donor would receive fee-based services from the World Bank to develop its human and institutional capacity to deliver education aid programs. The Bank would help in training Russian experts, setting up the Center for International Development in Education, and designing Russia’s aid programs in education. Thus, well trained staff equipped with knowledge of best practice in aid delivery in education would help Russia better deliver aid to developing countries.

The Russia Financial Literacy program is initiated by the Ministry of Finance as a follow-up to Russia’s G8 Chairmanship in 2006. This international joint program with the World Bank and OECD on financial literacy and financial education would be supported b US15 million from Russia’s Trust Fund administered by the World Bank. This initiative will develop an international methodology for assessing the levels of financial literacy, apply it to several countries and disseminate the findings internationally. The program will assess the effectiveness of financial education programs, identify those education and training programs that are most effective, and disseminate program and policies ‘lessons learned’.

The Russia Financial Literacy program is part of Russia’s development aid effort, and would ensure access of government agencies, training and education institutions from many middle and low-income countries to best international practices and lessons in the area of financial literacy and financial education. This program will improve the effectiveness of financial literacy policy development and financial education programs by developing and disseminating practical tools to train various segments of the population in prudent financial practices that will assist in the management of financial risks for the most vulnerable groups – all particularly timely under the current circumstances of global financial crisis.