Govt Requests World Bank to Restructure $400 Million Education Project

The government has requested the World Bank for restructuring of Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP) project of worth $400 million for third time to allow for the completion of critical IT and IT-related activities and the full achievement of Performance Based Condition (PBCs).

Official documents revealed that the project is in its fifth year of implementation and its objective is to support research excellence in strategic sectors of the economy, improve teaching and learning and strengthen governance, in the higher education sector.

The government requested an extension with the revised closing date of June 30, 2025. This extension will help HEC achieve a strengthened digital learning infrastructure contributing to a more resilient higher education system in Pakistan.

The overall project implementation progress is rated moderately satisfactory. Of the 13 intermediate results indicators, 02 have already been met, 09 are likely to be met, and 02 are unlikely to be met. The project has made implementation significant progress. The disbursement from IDA Credit as of February 29, 2024, is $278.30 million, including $258.19 million against PBCs and $20 million for the Investment Project Financing (IPF) component.

Despite the overall reasonable implementation progress, the IT-related procurements under Component 3 had been taking longer than anticipated because of: (i) delayed hiring of IT staff and initiation of IT-related activities, (ii) approvals and completion cycle of several procurements taking longer than anticipated and, (iii) need for revision of the procurement strategy to address capacity challenges of the local IT market. Procurements valuing $50.5 million are under implementation or have been advertised, and another $14.5 million are in the pipeline.

The restructuring also entails changes in four PBCs, whereby (a) PBC 1 Year 4 (iii) target to be shifted to year 6 due to the delay in the completion of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) dashboard; (b) PBC 1 year 5 (iii) target to be dropped as development of the portal and allied procurement took longer than anticipated; (c) PBC 11 year 3 (i) target to be shifted to Year 5 as the draft Open and Distance Learning Policy (ODLP) is expected to be approved by February 2024, and subsequently implemented; (d) revise the wording of PBC 5 to apply to both Affiliated Colleges and Affiliating Universities, including retroactive revision of the target for PBC 5 year 3 (iii) and; (e) PBC 11 year 5 (i) target to be shifted to year 6 as with the ODLP approved in year 5, HEC will implement the framework for one year and will hold stakeholder consultations for feedback collection. The dropped PBC 1 Year 5 (iii) target and PBC 11 Year 4 target do not constitute a risk to achieving the PDO.

The project has been restructured twice. The first restructuring was approved on June 14, 2021, to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic impacts and involved: (a) introduction of Component 6 to support continued learning for all in case of unpredicted crises and university lockdowns and provision of special funds to universities to increase their financial autonomy, (b) reallocation of funds between Components to better address ongoing needs, and (c) revision of the Results Framework to reflect the changes in activities.

The second project restructuring was approved on June 15, 2023, to repurpose the unutilized funds from lapsed targets under PBC 1 and PBC 2 toward: (i) a new round of Rapid Technology Transfer Grants (RTTGs) focused on topics related to emergency response, climate change, extreme weather event preparedness and import replacement research (PBC 1, Component 1); (ii) a new target to track RTTG outcomes (PBC 2, Component 1); and (iii) an increased target for universities participating in the framework for improvement in financial autonomy (PBC 10, Component 6).

Published by
ProPK Staff