World Bank’s STARS Project: Full Form, Objective, Components and Outcomes

What is project STARS?

Project STARS is the initiative of the World Bank which improves the quality of Indian education system and it stands for Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS). The project STARS builds on the long partnership between India and the World Bank, since 1994, for strengthening the public school education and to support the country’s goal of ‘providing education for all’. The project would be implemented as a new centrally sponsored scheme under the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education (MoE).

India has mostly achieved gender parity in enrolment in primary education. However, for many children, secondary education is the stage when students leave school and enter the workforce. Under STARS, each state is expected to not only stabilize this downward trend but also improve the completion rate for secondary education. In line with the Sustainable Development Goal for education (SDG 4), the program will help to produce better data on learning levels by improving the National Achievement Survey (NAS). India’s participation in PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) is a historic strategic decision by the Government of India to obtain data on how India’s learning levels compare globally. STARS will assist India in this major step forward.

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Why it is in news?

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, has approved the STARS project for improving school education. For the implementation of the project, Government has approved 5718 crore with the financial support of World Bank amounting to the US $ 500 million (approximately Rs. 3700 crore).

The STARS project seeks to support the states in developing, implementing, evaluating and improving interventions with direct linkages to improved education outcomes and school to work transition strategies for improved labour market outcomes. The overall focus and components of the STARS project are aligned with the objectives of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 of Quality-Based Learning Outcomes.

The project covers six major Indian states namely; Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha.

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Components of the Project STARS

There are two major components of Project STARS:

1. At the national level and 2. At the state level.

At the national level the project envisages the following interventions which will benefit all states and UTs:

I. To strengthen MOE’s national data systems to capture robust and authentic data on retention, transition and completion rates of students.

II. To support MOE in improving states PGI scores by incentivizing states governance reform agenda through SIG (State Incentive Grants).

III. To support the strengthening of learning assessment systems.

IV. To support MOE’s efforts to establish a National Assessment Center (PARAKH). Among the tasks of such a center would be to leverage the experiences of states selected for the operation by collecting, curating and sharing these experiences with other states through online portals (e.g. Shagun and DIKSHA), social and other media engagement, technical workshops, state visits and conferences.

Further, the STARS project includes a Contingency Emergency Response Component (CERC) under the National Component which would enable it to be more responsive to any natural, man-made and health disasters. It will help the government respond to situations leading to loss of learning such as school closures/infrastructure damage, inadequate facilities and use technology for facilitating remote learning etc.  The CERC component would facilitate the rapid re-categorization of financing and the utilization of streamlined financing request procedures.

At the State level, the project envisages the following interventions:

I. Strengthening Early Childhood Education and Foundational Learning

II. Improving Learning Assessment Systems

III. Strengthening classroom instruction and remediation through teacher development and school leadership

IV. Governance and Decentralized Management for Improved Service Delivery.

V. Strengthening Vocational education in schools through mainstreaming, career guidance and counselling, internships and coverage of out of school children

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Aim of the Project STARS

The project STARS supports India’s renewed focus on addressing the learning outcome challenge and help students better prepare for the jobs of the future through a series of reform initiatives. It also focuses on the initiatives of PM e-Vidya, Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission and National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

Aims of the project include:

I. To focus more directly on the delivery of education services at the state, district and sub-district levels by providing customized local-level solutions towards school improvement.

II. To address demands from stakeholders, especially parents, for greater accountability and inclusion by producing better data to assess the quality of learning; giving special attention to students from vulnerable sections such as; Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and minority communities, and deliver a curriculum that keeps pace with the rapidly evolving needs of the job market.

III. To equip teachers to manage this transformation by recognizing that teachers are central to achieving better learning outcomes. The program will support individualized, needs-based training for teachers that will give them an opportunity to have a say in shaping training programs and making them relevant to their teaching needs.

IV. To invest more in developing India’s human capital needs by strengthening foundational learning for children in classes 1 to 3 and preparing them with the cognitive, socio-behavioural and language skills to meet future labour market needs.

Outcome of the Project STARS

Some of the measurable outcomes of the project are:

I. Increase in students achieving minimum proficiency in grade 3 language in selected states.

II. Improvement in secondary school completion rate.

III. Improvement in governance index scores.

IV. Strengthened learning assessment systems.

V. Partnerships developed to facilitate cross-learning between states.

VI. Improvement in the state level service delivery such as strengthening planning and management capacities for decentralised management by training of BRCs and CRCs.

VII. Strengthened school management by training of Head Teachers and Principals for improved education service delivery.

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