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STARS project: Despite objections, World Bank approves $500 million loan

Setting aside concerns raised by 1,400 academicians, practitioners, teachers’ unions and civil society organisations (CSOs),  the World Bank has approved USD 500 million loan to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for Strengthening Teaching Learning and Results for States (STARS) project.
Approved on June 24, 2020 by the Bank board, the project will be implemented in Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, MP, Maharashtra and Odisha. The signatories, in their letter to the World Bank president, had said that the project lacked provisions to improve access to education among marginalized communities, potential involvement of for-profit entities in education and excessive focus on standardized assessments.
The project was approved on an “absence of objection” basis, a Right to Education (RTE) Forum statement said. There was no formal discussion, despite the fact that several members of the Bank Board raised concerns directly with the Bank management about the project's provisions. The Bank responded claiming it was “committed” to wider consultations.
The statement said, “Serious concerns remain about STARS project’s proposal to hand over government schools to non-state actors, involve management firms and introduce school vouchers in India which might further pave the way for privatization and public-private partnership mode in the education sector.”
Ambarish Rai, national convener, RTE Forum, said, “The design does not address caste, class, religion, and gender-based discrimination faced by Indian children. Dropout rates are set to rise due to Covid-19.”

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