The Indian government and the World Bank on Friday signed a $500 million Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Programme (STARS) to improve the quality and governance of school education in six states — 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 will benefit from the programme.
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,” Additional Secretary, Economic Affairs, C.S. Mohapatra, said.
“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,” he added.
The agreement was signed by Mohapatra on behalf of the government and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.
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 continue to remain below par.
“India recognises the need to significantly improve its learning outcomes to fuel future growth and meet the demands of the labour 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 Ahmad.
“Investing more in the early years of education will equip children with the skills required to compete for the jobs of the future.”
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.
These 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 and addressing demands from stakeholders, especially parents, for greater accountability and inclusion by producing better data to assess the quality of learning.
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 decentralised management.
In line with the Sustainable Development Goal for education (SDG 4), the program will help produce better data on learning levels by improving the National Achievement Survey (NAS).