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NCERT staff member takes part in workshop

Capacity building in education, India

The government’s flagship programme Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is designed to ensure access, equity and quality in elementary education. In support of this goal we provided technical assistance to strengthen the capacities of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to monitor students’ achievement and evaluate initiatives to improve education quality.

Girl in Class VIII takes national achievement survey
National achievement
National achievement We helped to improve the administration of India’s national achievement surveys.

Key facts

  • Cambridge Education provided technical support to NCERT to strengthen capacity to better identify the education system’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Support focused on two key strands: national achievement surveys (NAS) and programme evaluations.
  • The data gathered by NAS and programme evaluations provides governments with the evidence needed to make efficient investments in education.
  • Funded by DFID, the original project was granted an extension to expand support to education institutions.


Through SSA, the government made a significant investment in elementary education – it now needed reliable information about students’ achievement and the success of interventions (such as activity-based learning) to judge the quality of education provided. NCERT’s role is to provide national and state governments with the evidence needed to make efficient investments in education.

We managed the Technical Support Agency, which worked with NCERT to achieve professional standards in developing and undertaking evaluations and learning achievement surveys of students at all grade levels.


We responded to the client’s need for a swift start-up and implementation of the project – mobilising activities before the team leader arrived at post, before programme offices were established, and before field staff was recruited. A project manager provided intensive support, while the senior technical expert filled the team leader role on an interim basis, and technical experts were mobilised swiftly to participate in inception phase planning and continuation activities. This proved a highly successful response to the accelerated delivery schedule.

The team supported the development of strategic plans and designs to establish the ongoing practice of assessment and programme evaluation within NCERT, and worked to build the capacity of state level institutions to conduct programme evaluations and achievement surveys and knowledgably use findings to inform policymakers.

The Technical Support Agency’s project team and technical experts used a two-pronged strategy for capacity building:

  • Technical inputs – including courses, workshops, conferences and study tours to expose NCERT staff to best practices.
  • Experiential learning – providing hands-on training and mentoring support to NCERT departments as they conduct the National Achievement Survey and programme evaluations.
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