WB News Release: India Education Credit, April 20, 2004



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Subject: WB News Release: India Education Credit, April 20, 2004


WORLD BANK TO SUPPORT INDIAâ??S GOAL OF ACHIEVING ELEMENTARY EDUCATION
US$500 million IDA credit to pool with the Government of India, UK, and the
European Commission to bring at least 9 million children into schools.


WASHINGTON, April 20, 2004 -- With the approval today of a US$500 million
credit, the World Bank will pool funds with the Government of India, the
Indian
states, the European Commission and the United Kingdom, to support Indiaâ??s
National Program for Universal Elementary Education.

The total Project cost is $3.5 billion for three and half years. The Indian
Elementary Education Project, also known in Hindi as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan,
aims to reduce the number of children who are out of school by at least 9
million, narrow gender and social gaps and improve quality of education.

"When it comes to children not having access to basic education, even in a
country as large as India, one child is one too many," says Michael Carter,
World Bankâ??s Country Director for India. "The Government of India is
committed
to changing this picture, and we are happy to work with other development
partners in support of this ambitious plan to achieve universal primary
education."

India has made remarkable progress in education, as evidenced by the decline
in
the number of out of school children between the ages of 6 and 14, from 39
million in 1999 to 25 million in 2003. Despite this accomplishment, India
still
accounts for one-quarter of the worldâ??s 104 million out-of-school
children. In
2001, the Government of India established the National Program for Universal
Elementary Education. In 2002, the Constitution was amended to make
elementary
education a fundamental right of every child.

The Program is a compact between the central government, Indian states,
districts, and civil society to ensure that all children between the ages of
6
and 14 will eventually receive eight years of education. Sarva Shiksha
Abhiyan
(SSA) is ambitious and goes beyond the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for
education: it covers eight years of education instead of five or six, and
the
target year for achieving the goals is 2010 instead of 2015.

SSA was designed for a large federal system, with a decentralised framework
for
service delivery, where states, districts and sub districts are responsible
for
providing and financing elementary education. The Program is already under
implementation and both the Government of India and the states have
increased
the level of public expenditures to support it over the past few years.

"Girls, poor, rural and disabled children have benefited the most from SSA,"
says Kin Bing Wu, co-task team leader for the project. "This track record
gives us confidence that the new Project will provide a major contribution
both
to meeting the governmentâ??s own goals for 2010 and to meeting the global
MDG
for education."

Specifically, the US$500 million credit will fund physical construction and
extension of primary and upper primary schools, provision of training in
social
mobilization and educational management, and payment of salaries for
teachers
hired under the program. To narrow existing gender and social gaps, the
credit
will also fund special schools and facilities for girls, provision of free
textbooks to girls and children from scheduled castes and tribes, hiring of
female teachers, and provision of grants to districts to support students
with
disability. To improve the quality of education, this credit funds training
for teachers, grants for small school repairs and maintenance, building of
resource centers for teachers, parents and students.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan builds on the achievements of the District Primary
Education Program (DPEP), which was funded by the Bank and other development
partners, covering half of the 600 districts and 18 of 28 states in the
country. SSA, however, has nationwide coverage and extends universal
enrollment
from primary grades (grades 1 to 5) to upper primary grades (grades 6 to 8)
with a focus on school completion at both levels.

"The main challenge will be to target effectively disadvantaged groups and
deepen capacity in states with the highest concentration of out-of-school
children," says Michelle Riboud, Education Manager of the South Asian Human
Development Department. "The goal of partners is to provide support to scale
up
the National Program."

Riboud added that this operation is the first Sectorwide Approach (SWAp) in
India, whereby external partners not only pool funds with the government,
but
also will rely on the governmentâ??s own rules and procedures in procurement
and
financial management, while working towards improving institutional capacity
in
the course of implementation of the project.

"Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan envisages total involvement from the communities,"
says
Venita Kaul, co-task team leader for the project. "Communities will
participate
by appointing new teachers, undertaking school improvement activities using
the
school grant, monitoring quality, electing local representatives to school
committees and through engagement in parent-teacherâ??s associations."

The program is aligned with the Bankâ??s country assistance strategy to
India,
which highlights improvements in education and health as one of its key
targets. It is also aligned with the Millennium Development Goal of
achieving
universal primary education by 2015.

The World Bank, DfID and the European Commission appraised the project
jointly
and will be pooling in their funds to support Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Of the
total US$3.5 billion cost for the program, the Government of India will
contribute 45 percent, donors will bring in 30 percent, and states will fund
25
percent. The US$500 million credit from the International Development
Association (IDA), the World Bankâ??s concessionary lending arm, approved
today
has a 35-year maturity, with a 10-year grace period, and a 0.75 percent
service
charge.

For more information on the World Bankâ??s activities in India, visit:
http://www.worldbank.org.in/

For more information on this project visit:
http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=104231&piPK=73230&the
Site
PK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P055459

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