The EU delegation to India has announced its decision to release the final tranche of euro 25 million of its euro 80 million grant to the Indian government's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), a statement said.
This brings to a conclusion the EU's sector support to school education in India, to which it has contributed over euro 520 million (currently valued at Rs 3,700 crore) in grant funding, a statement from the EU said.
The EU grants have contributed to setting up new schools, improving existing ones, bridging gender and social gaps, providing toilets especially for girls, training teachers, and enrolling nearly all children in the primary school years.
At an event held in Delhi to mark the occasion, Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the European Union to India, recalled that the EU was the Indian government's first development partner in education through its participation in the 155 districts initially selected under District Primary Education Programme in 1994. The Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK and the World Bank joined subsequently as partners.
"As the number of children being enrolled in and completing primary school rose, we extended our support to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for elementary education up to Grade VIII in 2002, and the RMSA for secondary education in 2012" Kozlowski remarked. The EU has also provided euro 32 million to the Chhattisgarh from 2006-2015 for improving elementary education.
These programmes anticipated and then supported the implementation of the Right to Education Act of 2009, which made elementary education compulsory. The sector support programme has been a model of development cooperation, with Joint Review Missions taking stock of progress every six months and adjusting elements of the programme accordingly. This has contributed to rapid progress in setting up schools, training teachers and enrolling students, the Ambassador said while thanking the Ministry of Human Resource Development and all the partners for their cooperation, the statement said.
Speaking on the occasion Ajay Tirkey, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, thanked the European Union for its pioneering initiative and long-term commitment to education over the last 23 years and said that the development partnership had contributed both financially as well as in terms of new approaches and new ideas.
World Bank Country Director Junaid Ahmad said it was a proud moment to have partnered with the EU in the education sector in India.
India has more than 1.5 million schools in the public and private sectors, with over 227 million children enrolled. Around 1.29 million or 84.7 per cent are in the rural areas. The reduction of dropout rates and the improvement of education outcomes as measured by various surveys are the main challenge for school policy makers and public authorities, going forward.
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