ArmInfo. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $10 million policy-based loan (in euro equivalent) to assist the Government of Armenia's efforts to improve the quality and accessibility of education and health services.
According to the Bank's official press release, Armenia is experiencing a demographic shift with the share of children under the age of 18 declining from 37% of the national population in 1990 to 25% now, signaling an impending decline of the country's labor force. Access to and funding for quality education and health services are poor, resulting in many people not having the skills to meet employers' needs and avoidable ill health having a detrimental effect on the population.
In 2017, for instance, public expenditure on education was about 2.2% of gross domestic product (GDP), which is lower than the 5% recommended by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Government health spending was at 1.3% of GDP, below the 5% threshold observed by the World Health Organization as expenditure of countries with low shares of out-of-pocket payments.
To address this, the Government of Armenia has implemented reforms since 2010 to improve education and health services, with a focus on helping women and girls. A preschool law was endorsed to the National Assembly with the aim of boosting the number of children in elementary schools to 70% in 2023, from around 30% in 2017. Teachers have also been receiving training and skills development. A new set of guidelines and protocols, meanwhile, have been implemented in most of the country's hospitals and health centers, covering topics ranging from preventing hospital-acquired "A well-educated and healthy population is essential for the growth and development of a country like Armenia, where human capital is significantly unrealized," said ADB Senior Health Specialist for Central and West Asia Ms. Rouselle Lavado. "ADB's assistance will support the government's ongoing efforts to ensure that citizens are educated, healthy, and productive.
The main focus of the Human Development Enhancement Program is children and youth, starting from the preschool age. As well as improving the accessibility and enhancing the quality of education and health services in the country, the program will also increase financing for these efforts.
To note, at the parliamentary hearings on the draft state budget, RA Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan noted that it is planned to allocate at least 109.1 billion drams to the healthcare sector of Armenia in 2020 instead of 89.6 billion in 2019. Excluding expenses on the administrative apparatus, the amount will be 108.023.2 billion drams. Costs will be increased by 21.7%.
The sectors of science and education will receive 158.092.5 mln drams (excluding expenses for the administrative apparatus of the joint Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports ) against 140.273.3 mln drams, recording a growth of 12.7%. About 145 billion drams will be allocated exclusively to the education sector.
In total, budget revenues will amount to 1.698 trillion drams, expenditures - 1.880 trillion drams. The deficit will reach 182.6 billion drams.