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Joshi touts aid without strings for education

New Delhi, Dec. 27: Human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi claims that he has been able to extract Rs 50 crore from the World Bank for upgrading technical education without accepting any of its conditions.

“We are the masters of this programme. The World Bank has much money to distribute. That’s why they gave us the money even when we did not accept any of their conditions,” Joshi said at a news conference this evening.

The upgradation, to be completed in three phases, will be effective in 17 to 20 leading engineering institutions and 50 to 60 network institutions.

All the institutions would eventually function as centres of excellence. Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have been selected for the first phase. “These are the states which showed enthusiasm for the project,” Joshi said.

The World Bank, in return for its aid, had wanted to be part of the process of selecting beneficiary institutions. The bank also wanted to hike the institutions’ fees and have a say in their management.

“There was also a provision (that) the World Bank would penalise institutions which did not abide by its suggestions,” he said.

The Centre, however, shot down the provisions. “We told the bank that if you want to give money, it must come on our terms, not yours,” Joshi said.

According to the minister, there were only two criteria for the project: making quality education accessible to most people and the course relevant to India.

The only condition that the Centre conceded is the bank members’ presence at a mid-term appraisal of the project, Joshi said.

The minister has for long argued that any foreign aid for the education sector must come without strings.

Recently, a Dutch government team met him and expressed its interest in the Centre’s Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. Joshi told the team that he would accept their money, but without any condition.

The Centre will also kick off a national programme for distance and web-based education in technology, and put together a national digital library on science and technology.

The country’s premier institutions would then be able to access data available with the best institutions in the world. Institutions like the IITs would be able to access more than 3,000 texts.

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