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World Bank approves $500-mn education project

Press Trust Of India  |  Washington 

To make quality education accessible to youngsters at the secondary level, the World Bank today approved $500 million (Rs 2,540 crore) to support India's secondary education project.

The project would support all activities envisioned in the Rs 65,000 crore Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) programme, a flagship government scheme for this segment.

The project would be financed by the International Development Association, the World Bank's concessionary lending arm that provides interest-free loans with a maturity period of 25 years and a grace period of five years, the Bank said in a statement.

Roberto Zagha, Bank country director for India, said, “RMSA is a young programme, expected to grow rapidly. Hence, it is an opportunity for the World Bank to support the government of India in building effective systems as the programme expands, while improving quality.”

Under the RMSA programme, expansion, repair and renovation of 60,000 government secondary schools would be carried out. It would also upgrade 44,000 upper primary schools to secondary ones and set up 11,000 secondary and senior secondary.

Venu Rajamony, joint secretary in the department of economic affairs, said, “The skills and knowledge requirements of the labour force in a globalised economy require high-quality secondary graduates. This necessitates revamping the secondary education system in India.”

The net elementary enrollment rate in India stands at 96 per cent, with girls and boys being almost equally represented in elementary education. However, secondary education, for which the gross enrollment rate stands at about 50 per cent, needs immediate attention. Such education is not affordable for poor households, the statement said. Most of the economic and employment growth in India was seen in skilled services like information technology, financial services, telecommunications and skill-intensive manufacturing, which require at least a secondary education degree, it added.

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First Published: Sat, March 24 2012. 01:21 IST