Cabinet approves STARS project under NEP to strengthen school education system

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New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the STARS project under the new National Education Policy to support states in strengthening the school education system, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said.

The government has started implementing the new National Education Policy (NEP) and as part of the process it has approved the Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project, Javadekar told a press conference after the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to Education Ministry officials, the World Bank-supported STARS project, which is estimated to cost Rs 5,718 crore, 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.

"India has started seriously implementing the new National Education Policy and therefore a new programme - STARS - been cleared today by the cabinet as the base of the policy is not rote learning but learning with understanding," Javadekar said.

"Learning outcomes are important so there has to be teaching and learning. We have to improve board exams which will be competency-based. This will impact the processes of education in early childhood and fundamental literacy has to be achieved. We have to train teachers and a separate assessment board or institution will come into force. The programme has been supported by World Bank which will provide financial support of up to Rs 3,700 crore," he added.

PARAKH, an independent and autonomous institution, will be set up under the ministry's Department of School Education and Literacy, officials said.

Among the tasks of such a centre 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, social and other media engagement, technical workshops, state visits and conferences, they said.

"The overall focus and components of the STARS project are aligned with the objectives of NEP of focusing on quality based learning outcomes. The project envisions improving the overall monitoring and measurement activities in the Indian school education system through interventions in selected states," a senior ministry official said.

"The project also shifts focus from the provision of inputs and maintaining of outputs to actual outcomes by linking the receipt and disbursement of funds to these outcomes," the official added.

The centrally sponsored project will cover six states - Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha. The identified states will be supported by various interventions for improving the quality of education.

Besides this project, it is also envisaged to implement a similar ADB-funded project in five states - Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Assam. All states will partner with one other state for sharing their experiences and best practices.

"The project aims at strengthening the ministry's national data systems to capture robust and authentic data on retention, transition and completion rates of students. The project also 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," the official said.

"It will help the government respond to situations leading to loss of learning such as school closures and infrastructure damage, inadequate facilities and use technology for facilitating remote learning. The CERC component would facilitate the rapid re-categorization of financing and the utilization of streamlined financing request procedures," the official added. 

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