NEW DELHI, May 29, 2014 - The government of India and the World Bank today signed a $1.006 billion ($1006.20 million) credit agreement to improve education outcomes of elementary school children (covering Grades 1 to 8) in India. The project was approved by the World Bank Board on May 16, 2014.
The credit agreement for the Third Elementary Education Project or Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) III was signed by Nilaya Mitash, joint secretary, department of economic affairs, ministry of finance, on behalf of the government of India and Michael Haney, World Bank’s operations advisor in India, on behalf of the World Bank.
India has made significant progress in meeting its education goals at the primary level. India passed its Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which became effective from April 2010. Through this Act India has mandated elementary education (age group 6 to 14 years) as a fundamental right of every child. The World Bank has supported the SSA with two IDA credits totaling $1.85 billion – $500 million in SSA1 (2004-2007) and $ 1.35 billion in SSA II (2008-12).
In 2012-13, the number of out-of-school children had declined to 2.9 million, down from 32 million in 2001. The number of children enrolled in elementary education in India has reached 200 million and nationally India has brought down the proportion of out-of-school children to less than 5 percent. During this period, the Net Enrolment Ratio (NER) for the primary level (Classes 1-5) has improved significantly from 82 percent to 99.8 percent, gender parity has been achieved and the enrolment of children from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes has also increased. Despite these gains, several challenges related to pupil attendance and retention; poor learning outcomes; and need for effective school performance remain.
With more than 95 percent children now having access to schools, SSA III will see a significant shift in focus from SSA I and II. The key thrust areas will be on improving education quality to enhance learning outcomes, strengthen monitoring and evaluation to improve teacher accountability, and continue to enhance access and retention for disadvantaged children.
“The government of India has been investing in primary education for a very long time. These investments have resulted in more elementary graduates. This project will support the vision, goals and activities of SSA by focusing on improving quality, equity, access and institutional reforms in elementary education,” said Nilaya Mitash, joint secretary, department of economic affairs, ministry of finance, government of India.
Special attention will be given in improving learning outcomes. As part of SSA III, the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) will develop learning indicators at the national level to measure children’s progress in acquiring knowledge and skills at different grade levels for states to adapt. The project will focus on enhancing the quality standards for early grade learning and mathematics and science teaching at the upper primary level.
SSA III will strengthen the National Assessment Survey (NAS) conducted by the NCERT as well as the state level assessment systems by building their capacity to get reliable data. The project will also promote the use of NAS results for improving teacher training and school performance. National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) will be supported in developing a robust Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE). This system will be established in every district in the country to provide school-based information related to access, retention, quality and teacher training. NUEPA will also develop standards for school performance to improve the management competence of school head masters and education administrators.
“SSA - now the largest ongoing Education for All (EFA) program in the world - has been remarkably successful, particularly in achieving greater access to elementary education,” said Michael Haney, World Bank’s operations advisor in India. However, access alone is not sufficient for inclusive growth. The country needs all their young people to get good quality education in order to sustain economic growth over the long term. It is an opportunity for the World Bank to support the government of India in focusing on building effective systems for improving quality and retention levels for children in elementary schools,” he added.
SSA III, signed today, will directly benefit about 200 million children enrolled in elementary schools and 4.5 million teachers. Girls are expected to be about 48.4 percent of the beneficiaries.
“We expect that activities under SSA III will lead to a greater percentage of children attending and completing elementary education,” said Shabnam Sinha, senior education and institutional development specialist and the World Bank’s task team leader for the project. “Efforts to improve quality will not succeed unless the quality of instruction is improved through capable and accountable teachers and functional schools working towards improved learning outcomes and holistic growth of children. The program will encourage and provide resources for improved systems performance, strong accountability measures and community engagement in elementary education,” she added.
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.