Union minister Prakash Javadekar announced on Wednesday that the Cabinet approved the STARS project under the New Education Policy to support states in strengthening the school education system.
The Centrally sponsored project, estimated to cost Rs 5,718 crore, will be implemented by the Department of School Education and Literacy and will cover Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha, he said. The World Bank will fund the project to the extent of Rs 3,700 crore, according to a statement released after a Union Cabinet meeting.
Home minister Amit Shah said the World Bank-supported project will break orthodox barriers in the academic field by basing itself on "learning with understanding" and improve the quality of education in the country.
The STARS project seeks to support the states in developing, implementing, evaluating and improving interventions with direct linkages to improved education outcomes. At the state level, the project envisages strengthening early childhood education and foundational learning, strengthening classroom instruction and remediation through teacher development and school leadership and strengthening vocational education.
The project also aims to focus on initiatives of PM e-Vidya, Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission and National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
The outcomes of the project would be measured in terms of minimum proficiency in grade 3 language, improvement in secondary school completion rate and improvement in governance index scores, among other factors.
The STARS project would involve setting up of a National Assessment Centre PARAKH as an independent and autonomous institution. It also includes a Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC), which will help the government in responding to situations leading to a loss of learning, such as school closures, infrastructure damage, inadequate facilities and use technology for facilitating remote learning, according to Hindustan Times.
The CERC component would facilitate the rapid re-categorisation of financing and the utilisation of streamlined financing request procedures.
Around 25 crore students (between the age of 6 and 17) in 15 lakh schools and over 1 crore teachers will benefit from the programme. Prior to STARS, the World Bank had provided a total assistance of more than US $3 billion towards India's goal of Education For All.
The project will give special attention to students from vulnerable sections: with over 52 percent (as a weighted average) of children in the government-run schools in the six project States belonging to vulnerable sections, such as Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and minority communities
After the approval of the project in June, the World Bank had noted that India had made significant strides in improving access to education across the country. It had said that between 2004-05 and 2018-19, the number of children going to school increased from 21.9 crore to 24.8 crore.
However, the learning outcomes of students across all age groups continues to remained below par, necessitating the program, according to a Hindu Business Line report.
A similar project to be funded by the Asian Development Bank will cover Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Assam and every state will partner with one other state to share best practices, said the statement.
Education governance reform will be a major focus, with the World Bank's project document estimating that 83 percent of the project will be dedicated to the public administration of education.
Other areas of focus are assessment systems, teacher development, early childhood, foundational literacy and numeracy, and vocational education, which are all highlighted in the NEP as well.