World Bank warns of learning crisis in education in countries like India

File photo. “This learning crisis is a moral and economic crisis,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. Photo: AP

File photo. “This learning crisis is a moral and economic crisis,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. Photo: AP

Washington: The World Bank has warned of a learning crisis in global education particularly in low and middle-income countries like India, underlining that schooling without learning is not just a wasted development opportunity, but also a great injustice to children worldwide.

The World Bank in a latest report on Tuesday noted that millions of young students in these countries face the prospect of lost opportunity and lower wages in later life because their primary and secondary schools are failing to educate them to succeed in life.

According to the ‘World Development Report 2018: ‘Learning to Realise Education’s Promise’, released on Tuesday, India ranks second after Malawi in a list of 12 countries wherein a grade two student could not read a single word of a short text. India also tops the list of seven countries in which a grade two student could not perform two-digit subtraction.

“In rural India, just under three-quarters of students in grade 3 could not solve a two-digit subtraction such as 46 – 17, and by grade 5 half could still not do so,” the World Bank said. The report argued that without learning, education will fail to deliver on its promise to eliminate extreme poverty and create shared opportunity and prosperity for all. “Even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic math.

This learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them,” it said. Young students who are already disadvantaged by poverty, conflict, gender or disability reach young adulthood without even the most basic life skills, it said. “This learning crisis is a moral and economic crisis,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “When delivered well, education promises young people employment, better earnings, good health, and a life without poverty,” he added.

“For communities, education spurs innovation, strengthens institutions, and fosters social cohesion. But these benefits depend on learning, and schooling without learning is a wasted opportunity. More than that, it’s a great injustice: the children whom societies fail the most are the ones who are most in need of a good education to succeed in life,” the Bank president said.

In rural India in 2016, only half of grade 5 students could fluently read text at the level of the grade 2 curriculum, which included sentences (in the local language) such as ‘It was the month of rains’ and ‘There were black clouds in the sky’. “These severe shortfalls constitute a learning crisis,” the Bank report said. According to the report, in Andhra Pradesh in 2010, low-performing students in grade 5 were no more likely to answer a grade 1 question correctly than those in grade 2.

“Even the average student in grade 5 had about a 50% chance of answering a grade 1 question correctly—compared with about 40% in grade 2,” the report said. An experiment in Andhra Pradesh, that rewarded teachers for gains in measured learning in math and language led to more learning not just in those subjects, but also in science and social studies—even though there were no rewards for the latter.

“This outcome makes sense—after all, literacy and numeracy are gateways to education more generally,” the report said. Further a computer-assisted learning program in Gujarat, improved learning when it added to teaching and learning time, especially for the poorest-performing students, it said.

The report recommends concrete policy steps to help developing countries resolve this dire learning crisis in the areas of stronger learning assessments, using evidence of what works and what doesn’t to guide education decision-making; and mobilising a strong social movement to push for education changes that champion ‘learning for all’. PTI

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UPSC member Chhatar Singh resigns

Chhatar Singh took over as UPSC member on 2 September 2013. His term was due to end on 4 March, next year. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Chhatar Singh took over as UPSC member on 2 September 2013. His term was due to end on 4 March, next year. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi: UPSC member Chhatar Singh has resigned, over three months after he was questioned by the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in the allotment of 14 industrial plots in Haryana’s Panchkula.

President Ram Nath Kovind has accepted his resignation with effect from 22 September, an order issued by personnel ministry said.

Singh took over as member in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on 2 September 2013. His term was due to end on 4 March, next year.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had on 5 June questioned former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Chhatar Singh in connection with the alleged irregularities in the allotment of 14 industrial plots. Singh was principal secretary to Hooda when the allotments took place.

The CBI has registered an FIR to probe corruption in the allotment of the industrial plots during Hooda’s tenure as the chief minister. According to the FIR, industrial plots were given to 14 people by allegedly manipulating certain provisions of the allotment. These included allowing them to submit their applications even after the last date of submission had ended.

The 14 people who had been alloted land had submitted their applications on 24 January 2012, whereas the last date of submission was 6 January, the FIR said.

Besides Hooda, who as chief minister was chairman of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), others named in the FIR are retired IAS officer D.P. S. Nagal, then HUDA chief administrator, S.C. Kansal, then controller of finance, and B.B. Taneja, then deputy superintendent of HUDA.

The FIR also alleged that ineligible beneficiaries were alloted plots at rates lesser than the prevailing market rates, causing losses of several crores to the state exchequer.

It is alleged that the 14 plots, ranging from 496 square metres to 1,280 square metres, were allotted at throwaway prices after changes were made midway in the eligibility criteria.

All the allottees were allegedly related to politicians, bureaucrats and other influential people, including the then chief minister of the state.

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Prince Charles backs $10 million new education bond for marginalised children in India

Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla attend a cultural event at the British Council in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla attend a cultural event at the British Council in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

London: Britain’s Prince Charles, on a two-day visit to India, has given his backing to a new development bond for India to provide education to marginalised children in the country.

The $10 million education development impact bond (DIB) has been created by the British Asian Trust, founded by the Prince of Wales to fight poverty in south Asia, and is designed to improve learning outcomes for thousands of marginalised children in India.

The bond is intended as an innovative and sustainable social impact investment tool which will be tied in with performance and outcomes of educational initiatives, starting in India and then across the trust’s other regions of operation.

“I hope that through the trust we can impact the lives of not just children in India but also change the mindsets of philanthropists around the world,” said Prince Charles, who arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday. The education development impact bond has been developed by the trust alongside UBS Optimus Foundation with the aim of transforming the future of education in India.

Under the initiative, the DIB will provide funding to four local not-for-profit delivery partners in the country over four years, delivering a range of operational models including principal and teacher training, direct school management, and supplementary programmes.

It is intended to improve literacy and numeracy learning levels for over 200,000 primary school students from marginalised communities in Delhi, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The UK government’s department for international development (DfID) will contribute technical assistance and insights to the project as part of a wider partnership.

“The DfID is exploring new and innovative ways to finance programmes which will transform the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. We are proud to support the British Asian Trust as they develop their development impact bond, which will provide access to quality education for hundreds of thousands of children,” said DfID minister Priti Patel.

The bond has been described as a step towards a greater focus on social impact financing as a transformational tool for philanthropy. The concept of development impact bonds is intended as a result-oriented way to attract new capital into development, with a strong emphasis on data and evidence.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the British Asian Trust, explains: “At the heart of our programme strategy is a real determination to continue applying business principles to the work. We are convinced that only by applying these to philanthropy and to development are you really able to meet the needs of the greatest number of people.”

Sir Ronald Cohen, international philanthropist and a champion of global impact investing, described the British Asian Trust’s initiative as “ground-breaking” and capable of delivering vital social improvement at scale. In India, Prince Charles will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bilateral talks as part of a series of events planned during his two-day visit with wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. PTI

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TeamLease acquires 40% stake in Schoolguru for Rs13 crore

The purchase of additional stake by TeamLease is linked to Schoolguru’s future performance and meeting its milestones.

The purchase of additional stake by TeamLease is linked to Schoolguru’s future performance and meeting its milestones.

New Delhi: Staffing services firm TeamLease Services on Wednesday said it has acquired 40% stake in online learning company Schoolguru Eduserve Pvt Ltd for Rs13.53 crore, a move that will accelerate TeamLease’s employability strategy.

Both the companies have signed a definitive agreement to this effect. “TeamLease’s infusion of Rs13.53 crore into the company (Schoolguru) will be primarily used to expand its business into new geographies, strengthen existing technology and content library, and innovate in new forms of delivery,” the company said in a regulatory filing.

The transaction involves purchase of both primary as well as secondary shares of the company through a structured deal. The purchase of additional stake by TeamLease is linked to the company’s future performance and meeting its milestones, it added.

“We began talks to be a customer for TeamLease Skills University but quickly realised that with some investments Schoolguru could emerge as important platform to accelerate our employability strategy,” TeamLease Services Managing Director Ashok Reddy said.

The transaction will be subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals and is expected to close before the end of November 2017. Schoolguru will continue to operate as a separate and independent entity.

“This partnership with TeamLease helps us in two ways; one is pursuing our vision of technology enabled employable education and second is creating new forms of blended learning that combine our platform with on-thejob-learning,” Schoolguru CEO Shantanu Rooj said.

Schoolguru was founded in 2012 by Shantanu Rooj, Ravi Rangan and Anil Bhat. The company partners 18 Indian universities to help them provide premium online and virtual courses for their students. It services 70,000 students. The company has a library of 45 undergraduate courses and 30 masters courses with a total of over 5,00,000 minutes of video content.

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