WASHINGTON, August 03, 2017 – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a $82.50 million National Agricultural Higher Education Project to help the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and participating agricultural universities provide relevant and better quality higher education to students. The project will support ICAR’s efforts to transform the agricultural universities into centers of excellence for higher education by improving student learning outcomes; raising their prospects for future employability, particularly in the private sector; and aligning their academic curricula with the skill sets being demanded in the agriculture and allied services sector. “Higher agricultural productivity will help India respond to several challenges such as persistent malnutrition, increased water scarcity and climate change,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “By focusing on innovation, research and improving skills of students, agricultural universities can become the engine for increasing agricultural productivity.” Today, agricultural universities established during India’s Green Revolution, do not attract the high-quality students needed to form the talent base for India’s agricultural growth. These universities are keen to adapt and respond to the rapidly changing agriculture sector by preparing high skilled human resources needed for introducing innovations. The project will target 75 institutions, consisting of state agricultural universities (63), deemed universities (five), central universities with agricultural faculty (four), and central agricultural universities (three). Among others, it will finance capacity building initiatives and reforms that promote financial and academic autonomy in these institutions, upgrade priority ICT and laboratory infrastructure for research and teaching, and align student learning with private and public sector demand to increase employability and make job placement more effective. It will also expand certificate-level vocational and technical courses; and increase international collaboration through faculty and student exchange programs, workshops and e-learning. “Students will benefit from a shift to a more learning-centered education, where the emphasis will be on leveraging ICT, external partnerships and on global experiences that will both expand and sharpen their skill set needed for future employment,” said Edward William Bresnyan, Senior Agriculture Economist and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for this project. The $82.50 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 19 years.
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