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Prelims Booster

15th October – Prelims Booster

STARS Project

The Union Cabinet has approved the following –

  • Implementation of the Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project with a total project cost of Rs 5718 crore with the financial support of World Bank amounting to US $500 million (approximately Rs. 3700 crore).
  • STARS project would be implemented as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme under Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education.
  • Setting up and support to the National Assessment Centre, PARAKH as an independent and autonomous institution under Department of School Education and Literacy.

Besides this project, it is also envisaged to implement a similar ADB funded project in 5 states namely Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Assam. All states will partner with one other state for sharing their experiences and best practices.

What is the STARS Project?

  • The project covers 6 States namely Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha. The identified States will be supported tor various interventions for improving the quality of education.
  • 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 National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 of 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.
  • The project 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.

Functions –

  • At the national level, the project envisages the following interventions which will benefit all states and UTs –
    • To strengthen MOE’s national data systems to capture robust and authentic data on retention, transition and completion rates of students.
    • To support MOE in improving states PGI scores by incentivising states governance reform agenda through SIG (State Incentive Grants).
    • To support the strengthening of learning assessment systems.
    • To support MOE’s efforts to establish a National Assessment Center (PARAKH).  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 (e.g. Shagun and DIKSHA), social and other media engagement, technical workshops, state visits and conferences.
  • At the State level, the project envisages –
    • Strengthening Early Childhood Education and Foundational Learning
    • Improving Learning Assessment Systems
    • Strengthening classroom instruction and remediation through teacher development and school leadership
    • Governance and Decentralised Management for Improved Service Delivery.
    • Strengthening Vocational education in schools through mainstreaming, career guidance and counselling, internships and coverage of out of school children.

Outcomes for measurement –

Some of the measurable outcomes of the project are Increase in students achieving minimum proficiency in grade 3 language in selected states, Improvement in secondary school completion rate, Improvement in governance index scores, Strengthened learning assessment systems, Partnerships developed to facilitate cross-learning between states, and improvement in the State level service delivery such as Strengthening planning and management capacities for decentralised management by training of BRCs and CRCs, Strengthened school management by training of Head Teachers and Principals for improved education service delivery.

Background – World Banks’s STARS Project –

  • The programme was launched in 1994. The World Bank through the programme has helped India achieve its vision of “Education for All”.
  • The project is to focus governance of government schools in 6 Indian states. The fund allocated by the World Bank is to be used to implement the project called STARS (Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States).
  • The programme is to be implemented through Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. The states that are to benefit under the programme includes Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Odisha, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Criticism of World Bank’s STARS Programme –

This $3 billion project has the mistaken understanding that state capability should be built by giving a larger role to non-state actors and by increasing the use of technology. Both these premises are misguided as they do not contribute to the capability of the state to deliver better education.

  • First, it fails to address the basic capacity issues – major vacancies across the education system from District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), district and block education offices, to teachers in schools, remain unaddressed. Without capable and motivated faculty, teacher education and training cannot be expected to improve.
  • Second, the Bank ignores that decentralising decision-making requires the devolution of funds and real decision-making power. Greater decentralisation can allow accountability to flow to the people rather than to supervising officers. It requires not just investment in the capacity of the front-line bureaucracy but also in increasing their discretionary powers while fostering social accountability.
  • Third important element requiring attention is the state capability to be enhanced. Trust, which implies listening and collaborating across different levels within the administration, is entirely ignored in the World Bank project. Instead, the Bank displays yet again an over-reliance on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a panacea that lacks any backing in evidence. It is based instead on the idea that a flawed system can be fixed merely through the injection of more and better technology.
  • Fourth, measurement is seen as a way to improve performance. Yet, just like fever does not go away by checking the temperature more frequently, service delivery does not improve by measurement alone. Schools in India need improvement. The question is: should money be invested in improving the capability of the system to improve learning or in testing infrastructure, that too for standardised assessments alone?
  • Lastly, outsourcing basic governance functions by “expanding private initiatives” and “reducing government tasks” will not make education “more relevant to local needs” or “democratically promote people’s participation by empowering local authorities” as stated in the project document.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission

The Union Cabinet has approved a Special Package worth Rs. 520 crore in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh for a period of five years till FY 2023-24 and ensure funding of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) in the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir & Ladakh on a demand driven basis without linking allocation with poverty ratio during this extended period.

About DAY-NRLM –

  • Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) is a centrally sponsored programme that aims at eliminating rural poverty through promotion of multiple livelihoods for the rural poor households across the country.
  • The launch of DAY-NRLM in June 2011 to address rural poverty marks a paradigm shift in poverty alleviation programmes.
  • DAY-NRLM seeks to reach out to all rural poor households, estimated at about 10 crore households, and impact their livelihoods through universal social mobilisation by inter alia organising one-woman member from each rural poor household into Self Help Groups (SHGs), their training and capacity building, facilitating their micro-livelihoods plans, and enabling them to implement their livelihoods plans through accessing financial resources from their own institutions and the banks.
  • The Mission involves working with the community institutions through community professionals in the spirit of self-help. This is the unique proposition of DAY-NRLM and that is how it is different from the previous poverty eradication programmes.
  • The other distinguishing features of the programme is that it is implemented in a Mission mode by special purpose vehicles (autonomous state societies) with dedicated implementation support units at the national, state, district and block levels, using professional human resources in order to provide continuous and long-term handholding support to each rural poor family.

Background –

  • DAY-NRLM has been implemented in the erstwhile state of J&K by the Jammu and Kashmir State Rural Livelihoods Mission (JKSRLM) as “Umeed” programme.
  • As per the current funds allocation procedure under DAY-NRLM based on inter-se poverty allocations among states, the share of J&K was less than 1% of the annual allocation under DAY-NRLM.
  • In order to ensure sufficient funding support under the Mission for J&K and to ensure adequate coverage of the rural vulnerable population in the state, Gol had approved a Special Package under DAY-NRLM for the State of Jammu & Kashmir to cover all the rural vulnerable households in the State (estimated at two-thirds of the total number of rural households) within a definite time frame of five years from FY 2013-14 to FY 2017-18.

Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojana

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare has launched the second phase of ‘Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojana’ for the underprivileged Thalassemic patients.

Background –

Launched in 2017, this scheme is a Coal India CSR funded Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) program that aims to provide a one-time cure opportunity for Haemoglobinopathies like Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Disease for patients who have a matched family donor. The CSR initiative was targeted to provide financial assistance to a total of 200 patients by providing a package cost not exceeding Rs. 10 lakhs per HSCT.

About Thalassemia –

  • Thalassemia is a blood disorder involving lower-than-normal amounts of an oxygen-carrying protein.
  • Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder characterised by less oxygen-carrying protein (haemoglobin) and fewer red blood cells in the body than normal.
  • Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, paleness and slow growth.
  • Mild forms may not need treatment. Severe forms may require blood transfusions or a donor stem-cell transplant.

About Sickle-Cell Disease –

  • A group of disorders that cause red blood cells to become misshapen and break down.
  • With sickle cell disease, an inherited group of disorders, red blood cells contort into a sickle shape. The cells die early, leaving a shortage of healthy red blood cells (sickle cell anaemia) and can block blood flow causing pain (sickle cell crisis).
  • Infections, pain and fatigue are symptoms of sickle cell disease.
  • Treatments include medication, blood transfusions and rarely a bone-marrow transplant.

New Shephard

Recently, a rocket system meant to take tourists to space successfully completed its seventh launch after it took off from a test facility in Texas. Called New Shephard, the system is built by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s space company called Blue Origin and will eventually allow space tourists to experience microgravity by taking them over 100 km above the Earth.

What is New Shephard?

  • New Shephard has been named after astronaut Alan Shephard, the first American to go to space, and offers flights to space over 100 km above the Earth and accommodation for payloads.
  • Essentially, it is a rocket system that has been designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Karman line – the internationally recognised boundary of space.
  • The idea is to provide easier and more cost-effective access to space meant for purposes such as academic research, corporate technology development and entrepreneurial ventures among others.

MCQs

1. Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the implementation of STARS Project to provide ‘Education for All’ in partnership with the –

  1. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  2. UNICEF
  3. Asian Development Bank
  4. World Bank

Answer – D

Explanation – The Union Cabinet has approved the implementation of the Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project with a total project cost of Rs 5718 crore with the financial support of World Bank amounting to US $500 million (approximately Rs. 3700 crore). STARS project would be implemented as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme under Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education.

2. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘STARS Project’?

  1. It is a Central Sector Scheme aimed to support various interventions for improving the quality of education in India.
  2. It seeks to support the states in developing, implementing, evaluating and improving interventions with direct linkages to improved education outcomes.
  3. The project covers all the states and Union Territories of India.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 3 only
  4. All of the above

Answer – B

Explanation – STARS project would be implemented as a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme under Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education. The project covers 6 States namely Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha. The identified States will be supported tor various interventions for improving the quality of education. 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 National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 of 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. The project 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.

3. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM)’?

  1. It is a centrally sponsored scheme which aims to eliminate rural poverty through promotion of multiple livelihoods for the rural poor households of the country.
  2. It seeks universal social mobilisation by inter alia organising one-woman member from each rural poor household into Self Help Groups (SHGs).
  3. It was launched in the year 2011.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. All of the above

Answer – D

Explanation – Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) is a centrally sponsored programme that aims at eliminating rural poverty through promotion of multiple livelihoods for the rural poor households across the country. The launch of DAY-NRLM in June 2011 to address rural poverty marks a paradigm shift in poverty alleviation programmes. DAY-NRLM seeks to reach out to all rural poor households, estimated at about 10 crore households, and impact their livelihoods through universal social mobilisation by inter alia organising one-woman member from each rural poor household into Self Help Groups (SHGs), their training and capacity building, facilitating their micro-livelihoods plans, and enabling them to implement their livelihoods plans through accessing financial resources from their own institutions and the banks. The Mission involves working with the community institutions through community professionals in the spirit of self-help. This is the unique proposition of DAY-NRLM and that is how it is different from the previous poverty eradication programmes.

4. ‘Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojana’ is funded by –

  1. Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  2. Union Ministry of Science and Technology
  3. Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  4. None of the above

Answer – D

Explanation – It is funded by ‘Coal India’ under its corporate social responsibility obligations. Launched in 2017, this scheme is a Coal India CSR funded Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) program that aims to provide a one-time cure opportunity for Haemoglobinopathies like Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Disease for patients who have a matched family donor. The CSR initiative was targeted to provide financial assistance to a total of 200 patients by providing a package cost not exceeding Rs. 10 lakhs per HSCT.

5. Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the ‘New Shephard’ rocket system?

  1. It is built by the SpaceX to allow space tourists to experience microgravity by taking them over 100 km above the Earth.
  2. The rocket system has been designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Karman Line.
  3. The system is specifically designed to take commercial tourists to space for recreational purposes in the future.

Select the correct codes from below –

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1 only

Answer – B

ExplanationNew Shephard is a rocket system which is built by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s space company called Blue Origin and will eventually allow space tourists to experience microgravity by taking them over 100 km above the Earth. New Shephard has been named after astronaut Alan Shephard, the first American to go to space, and offers flights to space over 100 km above the Earth and accommodation for payloads. Essentially, it is a rocket system that has been designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Karman line – the internationally recognised boundary of space. The idea is to provide easier and more cost-effective access to space meant for purposes such as academic research, corporate technology development and entrepreneurial ventures among others.

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