World Bank approves $500 mn loan to improve education in 6 Indian states

World Bank has approved a $500-million loan to improve the quality of school education in six Indian states namely Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan. It approved the loan for Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS).

The World Bank on Sunday said its board of executives has approved a new project worth $500 million to improve learning outcome and governance of government Schools in six Indian states.

The project, named STARS (Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program), will be implemented through the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, the flagship central scheme, in partnership with Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan.

“STARS will help improve learning assessment systems, strengthen classroom instruction, and remediation, facilitate school-to-work transition, and strengthen governance and decentralized management,” the World Bank said in a statement Sunday.

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, according to the multilateral agency.

“However, learning outcomes across age groups remain below par. 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,” it said.

The STARS program 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.

“The program will support individualized, needs-based training for teachers that will give them an opportunity to have a say in shaping training programs and making them relevant to their teaching needs,” the World Bank said, adding India’s human capital needs to be strengthened via foundational learning for children.

In a recent report, UNESCO had said that countries including India need to focus on inclusion of students from an underprivileged background in crisis times like the current Covid-19 Pandemic.

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.

Among other things, 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.