NEW DELHI - The World Bank today signed a $500 million credit agreement with the government of India to support the government’s efforts at making good quality education available, accessible and affordable to all young persons at the secondary level (grades IX and X).
The Secondary Education Project will support all activities as envisioned in the $12.9 billion Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) program, the flagship government of India program for gradual universalization of secondary education.
The government has made great strides in the area of elementary education over the past ten years. Net elementary enrollment rate stands at 96 percent and girls are almost equally represented in elementary education as boys. Attention is now needed for secondary education where the gross enrollment rate stands at about 60 percent and quality of education is very low. Access is also unequal and many poor households cannot afford the costs of secondary education, particularly in rural areas.
This project is designed to meet critical needs in secondary education. First, to make sure that secondary education expands in such a way that quality and equity are enhanced at the same time; second, to develop and evaluate innovative approaches to secondary education; and, third, to leverage World Bank resources to help the government address systemic issues in the sector.
“The government of India has been investing in primary education for more than a decade and a half. These investments have resulted in more elementary graduates, which means that the demand for secondary education has gone up tremendously, especially in the last five years. Also, the skills and knowledge requirements of the labor force in a globalized economy requires high quality secondary graduates. This necessitates revamping the secondary education system in India,” said Prabodh Saxena, joint secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. It is in response to this surging demand that the government has launched the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan or RMSA – a centrally sponsored scheme – on the lines of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). This World Bank Project will support the objectives and activities of RMSA.”
The agreement for the Secondary Education Project was signed by Saxena on behalf of the government of India and Onno Rϋhl, World Bank Country Director for India on behalf of the Bank.
“The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) program has a major focus on the quality of education, in addition to access. Recent international research confirms that improved quality – measured by cognitive skills – is important in determining future income and contribution to economic growth. Hence the country needs its entire young people to get good quality secondary education,” Rϋhl said. “RMSA is a young program which is expected to grow rapidly and the World Bank is proud to have the opportunity to support the government of India in building effective systems as the program expands while improving quality.”
This World Bank Project will support the objectives and activities of RMSA. It will facilitate a whole set of mechanisms built around identifying what is needed to improve the quality of secondary education. The RMSA program has also established a monitoring system, which will be further enhanced through this Project, including a forthcoming new grade 10 national assessment. Teachers will be appointed and trained using new pedagogical techniques in line with the National Curriculum Framework 2005. Provisions will be made for setting up libraries, science and computer laboratories.
Today, most of the economic and employment growth in India is taking place in skilled services like information technology, financial services, telecommunications and skill-intensive manufacturing, all of which require, at a minimum, a secondary education degree. Surveys show that someone who completes secondary education can expect to earn 36 percent more than someone completing primary education, which indicates companies are looking for the types of knowledge and skills gained.
The project also recognizes that teachers are vital to the success of the RMSA Program. “Efforts to improve quality will not succeed unless there are sufficient and capable teachers in all classrooms supported by the Program. The program will also encourage and provide resources for innovations, which will spark new solutions for quality, equity and access, and promote public-private partnerships", said Toby Linden, the project’s task team leader and lead education specialist, World Bank.
In addition, expansion, repair and renovation will take place in some 60,000 existing government secondary schools; some 44,000 upper primary schools will be upgraded into secondary schools; and about 11,000 new secondary and senior secondary schools will come up mainly in underserved areas. Efforts will also be made to strengthen the role of local bodies in school management, which can, over time, lead to greater accountability and improved outcomes.
The project will be financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – which provides interest-free loans with 25 years to maturity and a grace period of five years.