The FINANCIAL — The Government of India and the World Bank on February 1 signed a US$ 201.50 million credit agreement to enhance the quality and equity of engineering education across several focus states in India.
Technical Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQIP III), signed today, is the third phase of an envisioned 15-20 year phased program initiated with the first phase of TEQIP from 2002 to 2009. TEQIP III builds on the significant results achieved in the two phases of the project which together supported over 250 engineering institutes such as NIT Surathkal, College of Engineering Pune, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad, and BIT Mesra. It has made a considerable impact on the quality of education by implementing institutional and policy reforms focusing on institutional autonomy and accountability.
TEQIP III will support approximately 200 engineering education institutes across India to produce higher quality and more employable engineers. The focus of the project is to strengthen engineering education in India’s low-income, hill states and states of the North East. Importantly, TEQIP III will support Affiliating Technical Universities for the first time, and thereby multiply project benefits to all affiliated colleges, not just those being supported individually. It is estimated that, by project closing, roughly 3 million undergraduate and post-graduate students, of which 30 percent will likely be female and 20 percent from scheduled castes and tribes, and over 100,000 faculty and staff would have benefitted. It will also scale up post-graduate education, research, development and innovation at these institutions, according to the World Bank.
The agreement for the project was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank India, on behalf of the World Bank.
TEQIP’s third phase will respond to the need to make distribution of skills among labor market entrants more equitable across different regions of the country by focusing on states with under-performing engineering education systems (focus states). Nearly 50 percent of the population lives in India’s low income states, hill states, and states of the north east with poverty rates close to 48 percent. In these states, 16.8 percent of those in higher education study engineering courses, against 28.4 percent in other states and access to engineering courses is particularly limited for students from poorer households. Even for those who are able to enroll, the challenge is not over, with specific groups such as students from scheduled castes and tribes and female students having lower transition rates from the first year to the second year, relative to other students, leading to higher dropout rates from students in this category.
“The focus on strengthening engineering education and research under TEQIP III will help prospective labor market entrants acquire the skills needed to produce a world-class technical workforce,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “This project will help India meet its growing demand for highly qualified engineers – a demand which has been growing parallel to its rapid economic growth.”
TEQIP III will intensify its efforts in the focus states with the support of central and state governments and with active participation of higher education institutions, including the IITs, IIMs and other high-performing institutes across the country. “As with previous phases of TEQIP, the country’s top institutes will mentor TEQIP colleges and help them develop their curriculum, faculty and students”, said R. Subrahmanyam, Additional Secretary, Department of Technical Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development, the implementing agency for the project.
“There are three key areas of concern countrywide, but especially troubling in the poorer states: employability, research, and equity. A World Bank-FICCI study in 2014–15 found that employers were not satisfied with the technical skills of recent graduates. For improving these outcomes in the poorer states, institutes need greater autonomy, full-time faculty members and incentives to invest in research. This will allow them and their faculty to teach students the skills that the Indian economy demands, in particular problem-solving skills, creativity and flexibility,” said Tara Béteille, Senior Economist and Francisco Marmolejo, Lead Economist and World Bank’s Task Team Leaders for the project.
At the institutional level, project-funded activities include improved governance, training faculty and staff, investing in cutting-edge hardware and software, improving non-cognitive skills of students, student career counseling and placement and increasing interaction with industry, incentives for joint research and collaborations across disciplines and institutes. At the system-level, the project will support the design and implementation of student assessment systems, sustainable faculty recruitment plans in select states, improving the efficiency of examination systems, innovations in technology-driven education, student placement opportunities and better data management and use. Importantly, all focus state institutes will be twinned with high-performing engineering institutes from TEQIP I and II to facilitate knowledge exchanges, optimal use of resources and building long-term strategic partnerships.
TEQIP III will also build the capacity of technical education policy planners and administrators. As with previous phases of TEQIP, substantial efforts will be devoted to monitoring and evaluation to ensure that the investments result in better performance of the selected institutions.
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5-year grace period.