World Bank Provides US$1.05 billion to Improve Education in India

March 18, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC, March 18, 2010 - The World Bank today approved two education projects worth US$1.05 billion to India, designed to boost the number of children enrolling in and completing elementary school, and to improve quality of engineering education across the country.

India has made significant progress in meeting its education goals, especially at the primary level. Through its 86th constitutional amendment in 2002, India mandated elementary education as a fundamental right of every child. The same year, the government also launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), a nationwide program aiming to provide quality elementary education to all children.  The Bank has supported the SSA with two IDA credits totaling US1.1 billion since 2003. 

“SSA - now largest ongoing Education for All (EFA) program in the world - has been remarkably successful, particularly in achieving greater access to elementary education,” said Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director for India. “Between 2003 and 2009 the number children reportedly enrolled in elementary education in India increased by 57 million to 192 million. More than two-thirds of this increase took place in government schools. The number of children out of school declined from 25 million to 8.1 million during that same period, a truly remarkable achievement.  Enrollment gains were especially strong among girls and children from socially disadvantaged households, which has improved equity of educational opportunity across the country.”

The US$750 million in additional financing for the Second Elementary Education Project – approved today by the Bank - will enable SSA to expand activities related increased access at upper primary level (grades 5-8), increase elementary level completion rates, and improve learning outcomes for the full elementary cycle (grades 1-8). The program is expanding its efforts to enable the hardest-to-reach children to attend school. These include provision of teachers and the establishment, construction and extension of primary and upper primary schools and classrooms in districts where access is still an issue.

“We expect that these activities will lead to a greater percentage of children attending and completing elementary education,” said Sam Carlson, World Bank Lead Education Specialist and project team leader for SSA“But the real focus of this additional financing is on improving quality. More than 50 percent of SSA resources will be allocated over the next three years for activities to improve student learning, such as teacher training, remedial education, provision of free textbooks and other learning materials to enable more activity-based learning. ”

Meanwhile, similar progress has not been realized at the higher education level.  Enrolment rates at the higher education level are only 11 percent. This has led to a severe skills shortage, especially in the IT, infrastructure, power and water sectors.

The $300 million for the Second Technical/Engineering Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQIP) will support some 200 competitively selected engineering education institutions to produce higher quality and more employable engineers. It will also scale up post-graduate education, research, development and innovation at these institutions. TEQIP is also a partnership with the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and this is the second phase of an envisioned 15-year phased program initiated with the first phase of TEQIP from 2002 to 2009.

“The Government of India is renewing its efforts to strengthen higher and technical education,” said Zagha“This focus on higher education, and in particular the technical stream, is vital to address the current skill shortages in the economy. This project will help India meet its growing demand for highly qualified engineers – a demand which has been growing parallel to its rapid economic expansion.”

The project builds on the significant results achieved in the first phase of the project which supported 127 Institutions and thousands of faculty members in well performing institutions, such as NIT Rourkela, College of Engineering Pune, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad, and BIT Mesra. It has made a considerable impact on quality of education by implementing institutional and policy reforms. TEQIP’s second phase will respond to two new sector issues: prepare more Post-Graduate students to reduce shortage of qualified faculty, and produce more Research and Development (R&D) in collaboration with industry.

“A key challenge is an over-regulated, but under-governed higher education system,” said Andreas Blom, World Bank Senior Education Economist and project team leader for TEQIP. “Less than 4 percent of institutions are academically autonomous and only 5 percent are accredited. The first phase of TEQIP initiated a reform process promoting autonomy and accountability that led to over 30 TEQIP-institutions becoming academically autonomous. The Government of India and the Bank have found that that increased autonomy allows the institutions and their faculty to teach students the skills that corporate India demands, in particular problem-solving skills, creativity and flexibility. This in turn enhances the quality of education.”

The project is also designed to build capacity of technical education policy planners and administrators. Substantial effort will be devoted to monitoring and evaluation to improve governance and ensure that the investment results in better performance of the selected institutions.

The credits are provided by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm and have 35 years to maturity and a 10-year grace period.

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