Explained: World Bank Project To Improve Quality Of India’s Education System
The World Bank has approved a new project worth $500 million to improve learning outcomes and governance of government schools in six Indian states.
Aptly named STARS (Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Programme), the project will be implemented through the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, the flagship central scheme, in partnership with Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan.
Some 250 million students (between the age of 6 and 17) in 1.5 million schools, and over 10 million teachers are expected to benefit from the initiative.
“STARS will support the Government of India’s vision to provide greater flexibility to states for school education planning and budgeting. This will help states’ implement evidence-based planning to factor in the needs of the most deprived, strengthen accountability at all levels, and thereby adopt a holistic approach to improve education outcomes,” said Shabnam Sinha, Lead Education Specialist, and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project.
The Government signed the agreement with the World Bank for implementation of the project.
The agreement was signed by C S Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.
In line with the Sustainable Development Goal for education, the programme will help produce better data on learning levels by improving the National Achievement Survey (NAS).
The STARS programme builds on the long partnership between India and the World Bank (since 1994), for strengthening public school education and to support the country’s goal of providing ‘Education for All’. Prior to STARS, the Bank had provided a total assistance of more than $3 billion towards this goal.
“India’s National Education Policy 2020 envisages equitable and inclusive education for all. The STARS project will help carry this vision forward,” said Mohapatra and added “It will strengthen early childhood education and foundational learning; facilitate school to work transition through vocational education; improve learning assessment mechanisms; and support teacher development. This will help in the economic and social progress of the country.”
India has, over the years, made significant strides in improving access to education across the country. Between 2004-05 and 2018-19, the number of children going to school increased from 219 million to 248 million. However, the learning outcomes of students across all age groups continues to remain below par.
“India recognizes the need to significantly improve its learning outcomes to fuel future growth and meet the demands of the labor market. STARS will support India’s response to this challenge by strengthening implementation at the local level, investing in teacher capacity and ensuring that no child of any background is left behind from the right to education,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India.
The $500 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a final maturity of 17.5 years including a grace period of five years.
“Investing more in the early years of education will equip children with the skills required to compete for the jobs of the future,” he said.
STARS will support India’s renewed focus on addressing the ‘learning outcome’ challenge and help students better prepare for the jobs of the future through a series of reform initiatives which include focusing more directly on the delivery of education services at the state, district and sub district levels by providing customized local-level solutions towards school improvement.
The World Bank initiative will focus directly on the delivery of education services at the state, district and sub district levels by providing customized local-level solutions towards school improvement.
At the national level, through the Samagra Shiksha, and in partnership with the states of Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan, STARS will also help improve learning assessment systems; strengthen classroom instruction and remediation; facilitate school-to-work transition; and strengthen governance and decentralized management.
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