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State primary teachers� body wary of World Bank education project

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, June 23 - In the greater interest of the government education system, the Assam State Primary Teachers� Association (ASPTA) has written to the Global Director (Education) of World Bank, the Country Director of World Bank India and to the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development to hold public consultations before implementing the Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in the country.

STARS is a Rs 25,000-crore project, 85 per cent of which will be borne by the Union government and 15 per cent by the World Bank. For the purpose, the government will come into partnership with non-state actors. The project will include handing over of operation and management of government schools to non-state actors, outsource services, seeking support of management firms or NGOs and direct benefit transfers as school vouchers.

Initially, the project will be implemented in six states � Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha.

The ASPTA stated that in the past similar projects had not achieved expected success across the globe. The proposal of STARS also fails to provide safeguard against engagement of private sector agencies. Preparation of the proposal also ignored findings of various educational assessments, the teachers� body pointed out in the memorandum � a copy of which has also been submitted to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

The ASPTA appealed to the World Bank authority and the Union government to postpone finalisation of the loan and re-focus on addressing some serious issues related to the government education system.

The organisation suggested that the government develop a concrete plan to address the inequality in the education system by taking measures for multilingual education, addressing caste-based discrimination, promoting gender transformative and inclusive education and readdressing the digital divide.

It also suggested reconsideration of the proposal for partnership with non-state actors, especially handing over of government school vouchers, engagement of management firms and outsourcing of core education functions.

�If non-state actors are to be involved then ensure state regulatory capacity to enforce complaints with adequate legal provisions,� the apex body of Assam�s primary teachers demanded in its memorandum.

ASPTA also called for providing adequate resources to all schools of the country to promote equity and social justice in the ground level and to strengthen DIETs and other academic bodies in the district and block levels along with classroom-based assessment that directly benefits the students.

It further called for developing a state and federal software ecosystem that uses free and open source software. It also called for focus on social accountability and social audit for transparency.

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