The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, announces a USD 45 million long-term loan in support of the educational component of the Plan for Social and Economic Transformation (PSET) of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, due to be implemented between July 2003 and July 2008.

This loan will make a significant contribution to improving access to primary education and to underpinning the reform of the Kingdom's teaching methods by focusing on three main aspects of the PSET:

  • upgrading the learning environment through construction of 160 new schools (including 140 classrooms for pre-school education) and 800 extensions and rehabilitation of 340 existing buildings;
  • optimising pupils' access to information and communications technologies by installing IT equipment in schools and introducing IT programmes;
  • developing the Ministry of Education's capacity to design, set up and monitor educational programmes meeting the requirements of a modern economy and to manage the corresponding data.

Cofinanced by the Jordanian Government, the EIB and the World Bank, this education plan will also be backed by grants from development agencies, specifically targeting teacher training and the definition of teaching programmes.

At the signing of the loan during his visit to Amman on 17 July, EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive commented: This loan will underpin the Jordanian authorities' major drive to modernise the country's education system and improve children's access to primary education without distinction as to gender or income. This is the prerequisite for upgrading the Jordanian people's level of training and ultimately for reducing unemployment. As such, this operation is fully in line with the goal of the EIB's new Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) of enhancing economic development especially by financing social infrastructure in the health and education sectors.

The Bank's new Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), set up following the Barcelona European Council (15 and 16 March 2002) and inaugurated in October 2002, gives top priority to private sector development (especially SMEs) and social projects. Since FEMIP's launch, the EIB has already helped finance a number of important development schemes including renovation of the Syrian and Tunisian hospital systems (to the tune of EUR 100 million and 110 million respectively) and the creation of 6 800 IT classrooms in Turkey (EUR 50 million).

Endowed with EUR 8 to 10 billion up to end-2006, FEMIP's ultimate goal is to help the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs) meet the challenges of economic and social modernisation and regional integration in the run up to the planned creation of a Euro-Mediterranean free-trade area in 2010. Between October 2002 and June 2003, new operations worth over EUR 1.68 billion were approved under FEMIP, nearly 40% of which targeting private-sector development.

The European Investment Bank has been active in Jordan since 1978, providing loans totalling over EUR 600 million. These have focused on environmental protection (water distribution and management in 8 Jordanian towns, including Greater Amman; re-use of treated water for irrigation purposes), power distribution, telephone networks and support for private enterprise involving both large companies (phosphate industry on the banks of the Dead Sea, industrial parks) and SMEs financed in partnership with Jordanian banks.