Skip to main content

10,000 Gujarat schools face closure as $500 million WB loan sought to 'improve' quality

By Our Representative 

Will the World Bank’s proposed loan to the tune of 500 million dollars to the Government of Gujarat, under an education project called Gujarat Outcomes for Accelerated Learning (GOAL) programme, lead to the neglect of 32,000 primary schools across the State? It would seem to if a consultation, organised by the advocacy group Right to Education (RTE), Forum, Gujarat, is any indication.
Participants, including economists Indira Hirway and Hemant Shah, education activsit Sukhdev Patel, data analyst Mahendra Jethmalani, and minority rights leader Mujahid Nafees, among others, agreed that the whole focus of the loan is on “developing 6,000 schools on the basis of performance”.
They pointed out, the project was quite in line with the State government seeking to emphasise on quality education through its Gunotsav education programme instead of simultaneously focusing on providing education to all. “The result”, said Nafees, a key speaker, “Is that nearly 10,000 schools are on the verge of closure in the name of merger.”
Warning that the World Bank project would not improve the condition of education in Gujarat, the participants, particularly academics, said, the six-year project which would end in 2027, with the State government spending another Rs 1,308 crore, would also put a huge strain on the State finances.
The 78-page document does not state whether the World Bank amount is a loan or a grant. If it is a loan, the State government will have to pay interest at the rate of 9.2 percent. The current year's budget of the Gujarat government is Rs 2.24 lakh crore. The total expenditure on education is Rs 32,700 crore. In that sense, the seven-year loan amount is negligible. Hence, there is no need for a World Bank loan, it was pointed out.
Activists said, the World Bank project talks about “big results” by supporting the government to set up 34 schools having a capacity of 3,000 students in tribal areas, but what about other schools? The Right to Education (RTE) Act is is mentioned only once in the project document, one of them alleged, adding, the big question is whether RTE will be maintained.
There is no mention in the project document as to how any comprehensive improvement in the condition of primary or secondary education in Gujarat would be brought about”, said an activist, adding, there is no mention of recruiting ‘missing teachers’ either. The only emphasis is on developing what are called 6,000 lighthouse schools in six years, even as neglecting the remaining schools.
The project says that it will benefit 47 lakh children. Are 47 lakh students studying in 6000 schools in Gujarat?, wondered an activist.



'Very low rung in quality ladder': Critique of ICMR study on 'sudden deaths' post-2021

By Bhaskaran Raman*  Since about mid-2021, a new phenomenon of extreme concern has been observed throughout the world, including India : unexplained sudden deaths of seemingly healthy and active people, especially youngsters. In the recently concluded Navratri garba celebrations, an unprecedented number of young persons succumbed to heart attack deaths. After a long delay, ICMR (Indian Council for Medical Research) has finally has published a case-control study on sudden deaths among Indians of age 18-45.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Reject WHO's 'draconian' amendments on pandemic: Citizens to Union Health Minister

By Our Representative  Several concerned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister to reject amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted during the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA75) in May 2022, apprehending this will make the signatories surrender their autonomy to the “unelected, unaccountable and the whimsical WHO in case of any future ‘pandemics’.”

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Union Health Ministry, FSSAI 'fail to respond' to NHRC directive on packaged food

By Our Representative  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed deep concern over the adverse health effects caused by packaged foods high in salt, sugar, and saturated fats. Recognizing it as a violation of the Right to Life and Right to Health of Indian citizens, the quasi-judicial body called for a response from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regarding its selection of front-of-pack labels aimed at providing consumers with information to make healthier choices.

Why is electricity tariff going up in India? Who is the beneficiary? A random reflection

By Thomas Franco*  Union Ministry of Power has used its power under Section 11 of the Electricity Act, 2003 to force States to import coal which has led to an increase in the cost of electricity production and every consumer is paying a higher tariff. In India, almost everybody from farmers to MSMEs are consumers of electricity.

SC 'appears to foster' culture of secrecy, does not seek electoral bond details from SBI

By Rosamma Thomas*  In its order of November 2, 2023 on the case of Association for Democratic Reforms vs Union of India contesting constitutional validity of electoral bonds, the Supreme Court directed all political parties to give particulars of the bonds received by them in sealed covers to the Election Commission of India. SC sought that information be updated until September 2023. 

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

Inside a UK asbestos factory in 1994 before the mineral was banned By Rajiv Shah “The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.