Academics Urge World Bank To Postpone Finalisation Of 25,000 Crore Project
Academics argued that the World Bank project lacks provisions to improve access to education among marginalized communities, increases potential involvement of for-profit entities in education and puts excessive focus on standardized assessments.
Over a thousand academics have endorsed a letter to the World Bank raising concerns about the Rs 25,000 crore school education project to be implemented by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in six states in the country. The Strengthening Teaching Learning and Results for States (STARS) project will be partially financed by the World Bank through loans to the MHRD.
In the letter, signed by 1,400, educationists have argued that the proposed STARS project is not in line with the Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE). The signatories include Shantha Sinha, former Chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), and R.Govinda, former Vice Chancellor of National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NEUPA) among others.
They argued that the project lacks provisions to improve access to education among marginalized communities, increases potential involvement of for-profit entities in education and puts excessive focus on standardized assessments.
Academics also said that the project pushes for privatisation of education by “handing over government schools to non-state providers” and “outsourcing specific services”. They also cited reports by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) and the World Bank’s World Development Report, 2018, to argue that “private schools and Public–Private Partnerships (PPPs) do not provide better quality of education”.
The signatories also accused the authorities of not holding adequate consultation with stakeholders and field experts, and urged the World Bank and MHRD to hold wider public consultation.
Ram Pal Singh, President, All India Primary Teachers’ Federation said, “The design of the STARS project reflects that the teacher community was not consulted. Emphasis should be on empowering and not testing teachers and building capacities of the public education system, not spending taxpayer funds for management firms.”
The STARS project will be implemented in six states - Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha. The project will fund certain activities under the Central Government's Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan scheme. The World Banks will finance only about 15% of the project through loans.