Madhya Pradesh govt. inks $300mn pact with World Bank on education

Union government, Madhya Pradesh government and the World Bank signed a US$ 300 million credit agreement on Tuesday for the 'MP higher education quality improvement project'.

The credit generated is from the International Development Association (IDA) -World Bank's concessionary lending arm with a maturity period of 25 years, including a five year grace period. Acceding to an official's statement by World Bank, "The project will also help increase the overall effectiveness of the higher education system in Madhya Pradesh to improve student learning outcome in select government-run higher education institutions in the state, particularly for the disadvantaged groups." About 3.7 million students, approx 11,000 academic staff and 1,400 administrators and officers in nearly 200 public colleges and universities are expected to get directly benefitted from the project. The main thrust of the project will be to help public/govt colleges and universities to effectively use institutional grants in upgrading the quality of higher education, provide equitable access to education for all and ensure better capacity utilisation, as well as include activities aimed at making students more efficient and employable. The project will also help create centres of excellence in some selected colleges and university departments to prepare best practice teaching-learning and research in a selected area. The credit agreement for the project was signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, joint secretary-economic affairs on behalf of Union govt., K.K Singh, principal secretary, higher education, on behalf of M.P government and Onno Ruhl, World Bank country director, India. Higher education in India has expanded and grown rapidly. Enrolment got doubled from 8.4 million students in 2001 to approx 17 million students in 2011. Of these, nearly 10% or 1.6 million higher education students got enrolled in university or colleges in MP.
While the state's gross enrolment ratio (GER) of 19.5 in higher education remained close to the national average of 21.1 per cent, in the age group between 18 to 23 years, only 13 per cent of scheduled caste students and only 7.5 per cent of scheduled tribe students got enrolled in higher education. There are some major concerns over quality too. A recent World Bank study over 77 per cent of employers in MP said that students lack technical skills, remains the major reason for the rejection. A 2012 World Bank report, 'Madhya Pradesh higher education reforms: Policy options' has identified access, equity and low quality as core challenges for the state.