New Delhi, November 7, 2017 – The Government of India and the World Bank today signed a $119 million loan agreement for the Odisha Higher Education Program for Excellence and Equity Project. The project will support the government of Odisha in improving the quality, equity and governance of higher education institutes in the state of Odisha.
“Promoting education in every sphere is a priority for the government and this project seeks to provide that opportunity for young people in the state of Odisha.” said Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. “Through this project, students and young people from all backgrounds, including scheduled tribes and other disadvantaged groups, will have access to quality higher education.”
The Agreement for the project was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; G.V.V. Sarma, Additional Chief Secretary, Higher Education, on behalf of the Government of Odisha; and Hisham Abdo, Acting Country Director, World Bank India, on behalf of the World Bank.
Government, government-aided, and block grant colleges that have an accreditation from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) are eligible to apply for grants under the project. Their Institutional Development Plan (IDP) will be evaluated by a committee comprising eminent academics from inside and outside the state. The first round of selection has already begun and the committee has selected 70 colleges and six state universities based on their IDPs. Another 70 will be selected in the second round which will commence after 12 to 18 months. The remaining about 660 colleges that do not receive the institutional grant will directly benefit from a faculty development program and the anticipated governance reforms.
In all, about 630,000 higher education students and about 21,000 faculty staff and 11,000 administrative staff at the colleges and universities will benefit from the project.
“The Indian government has developed an ambitious plan to transform India into a competitive, high-growth, and productive middle-income country with a strong emphasis on increasing the supply of skilled workers to drive the economy,” said Hisham Abdo, Acting World Bank Country Director in India. “This project will help Odisha expand the opportunities for students aspiring for good quality higher education and help them become readily employable in the labor market.”
The institutional development grants under the project will assist affiliated colleges in achieving autonomous status, improve the examination system, establish support centers for affiliated colleges in tribal-dominated districts, and help modernize university and college infrastructure. Initiatives such as short term trainings for faculty, online student feedback system on faculty performance, and certain skill development courses will be undertaken at the state level to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the colleges.
Colleges in the state face a series of governance challenges beyond the issue of limited autonomy for colleges. A standardized benchmarking tool will help them score their performance; monitor their progress against other institutes; and assess their governance practices. Online systems for financial management of colleges as well as for issuing licensing guidelines for new and expanding colleges will help enhance transparency in these institutes.
“Odisha is making efforts to tackle some of the systemic challenges facing its higher education system,” said Kurt Larsen and Sangeeta Dey, Senior Education Specialists and World Bank’s Task Team Leaders for the project. “This project will work with the Higher Education Department in Odisha and take on board issues of quality and relevance, address inequalities of access and outcomes, and put into practice more decentralized and flexible government structures and management practices.”
The $119 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 5.5-year grace period, and a maturity of 18 years.