The World Bank announced the approval of ‘Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program’ (STARS) for India with the assistance of USD 500 million (around INR 3,700 crore) on June 24. The Board of Executive Directors said, in a statement, that the loan will aim to ‘to improve the quality and governance of school education in six Indian states.’
Through Samagra Shiksha, STARS will be implemented at a national level, in partnership with the states of Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan. The project will also enhance ‘learning assessment systems; strengthen classroom instruction and remediation; facilitate school-to-work transition; and strengthen governance and decentralized management, said the bank in a statement.’
“India recognizes the need to significantly improve its learning outcomes to fuel future growth and meet the demands of the labor market,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. He added that the STARS will support India’s response to this challenge by strengthening implementation at a local level, investing in teaching capacity, and ensuring that no child (irrespective of their background) is denied the right to education. “Investing more in the early years of education will equip children with the skills required to compete for the jobs of the future,” he stated.
According to the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank, some 250 million (25 Crores) students – between the age of 6 and 17, in 1.5 million (15 Lakhs) schools, and over 10 million (1 crore) teachers will benefit from the program.
The bank noted India’s significant stride in improving access to education in the country between 2004-05 and 2018-19. STARS will support India’s renewed focus on addressing the ‘learning outcome’ challenge and will further help students better prepare for jobs of the future – through a series of reform initiatives. It will include focusing more directly on the delivery of education services at state, district, and sub-district levels by providing customized local-level solutions towards school improvement.
‘It will address the demands from stakeholders, especially parents, by producing better data to assess the quality of learning for greater accountability and inclusion. Special attention will be given to students from vulnerable sections – over 52% of children in the government-run schools in the six project states belonging to vulnerable sections, such as Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and minority communities. and delivering a curriculum that keeps pace with the rapidly evolving needs of the job market.’
The bank aspires to manage this transformation by equipping teachers who are play an integral role in achieving better learning outcomes with individualized, needs-based training. Furthermore, by investing more to strengthen the foundational learning for children (classes 1 to 3) and preparing them with cognitive, socio-behavioral, and language skills to future meet the current labour market requirements.
Criticism has surfaced, from education activists as well as the All India Forum for Right To Education (AIFRTE), who allege the government did not conduct well-informed, open debates and discussions before implementing the project which will direct more authority to private sectors (private investors, religious organizations, etc.,) in general education.
“The $500 million loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a final maturity of 14.5 years, including a grace period of five years,” the statement declared.
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