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World Bank’s STARS project

 

Topics Covered: Issues related to education.

World Bank’s STARS project

 

What is it?

STARS stands for Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS).

It is a project to improve the quality and governance of school education in six Indian states.

Six states are- Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan.

Some 250 million students (between the age of 6 and 17) in 1.5 million schools, and over 10 million teachers will benefit from the program.

 

Reform initiatives under the project include:

  1. Focusing more directly on the delivery of education services at the state, district and sub district levelsby providing customized local-level solutions towards school improvement.
  2. Addressing demands from stakeholders, especially parents, for greater accountability and inclusionby producing better data to assess the quality of learning; giving special attention to students from vulnerable section.
  3. Equipping teachers to manage this transformationby recognizing that teachers are central to achieving better learning outcomes.
  4. Investing more in developing India’s human capital needsby strengthening foundational learning for children in classes 1 to 3 and preparing them with the cognitive, socio-behavioural and language skills to meet future labour market needs.

 

Atmanirbhar and education:

Atmanirbhar Bharat calls for an India that is able to produce and deliver local goods and services to its citizens. This applies equally to education for all children.

Delivering a service, like education, requires a capable state, especially given the scale and complexity of its large and diverse population.

Building state capability involves a process of learning to do things on one’s own. This is precisely the idea behind an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Fundamentally, therefore, it cannot be outsourced.

  • In other words, state capability is about getting things done in the government, and by the government, by ensuring effective implementation that is responsive to local needs, but also about being able to design and conduct reforms.

 

Why is the STARS approach to build state capacity flawed? 

  1. It fails to address the basic capacity issues: major vacancies across the education system from District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), district and block education offices, to teachers in schools, remain unaddressed.
  2. World Bank ignores that decentralising decision-making requires the devolution of funds and real decision-making power. It requires not just investment in the capacity of the front-line bureaucracy but also in increasing their discretionary powers while fostering social accountability.
  3. Trust is entirely ignored in the World Bank project. Instead, the Bank displays yet again an over-reliance on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a panacea that lacks any backing in evidence (Trust here implies listening and collaborating across different levels within the administration).
  4. Outsourcing basic governance functions by “expanding private initiatives” and “reducing government tasks” will not make education “more relevant to local needs” or “democratically promote people’s participation by empowering local authorities” as stated in the project document.

 

What needs to be done?

  1. Administration must be equipped with adequate physical, financial and human resources. An overburdened bureaucracy with vacancies and without basic equipment cannot be expected to be effective.
  2. Administrative or governance reforms must give greater discretion to the front-line bureaucracy to address local issues and innovate if required.
  3. There needs to be trust within the administration among peers and across different levels within the administration.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. States covered under the STARS project.
  2. About World Bank and its funding.
  3. Institutions of World Bank.
  4. World Bank Group.
  5. What is open data initiative?

 

Mains Link:

Write a note on World Bank’s STARS project.

Sources: the Hindu.