Chapter 1, 2 and 3 of the report were covered in part 1. (Part 1 of the Report)
Chapter 1 – Preamble (Empowering India through Quality Education)
Chapter 2 – Outlines of Approach and Methodology followed by the committee
Chapter 3 – Context and Objectives of the New National Education Policy (Background information on the education sector of India, leading up to the need for a new education policy)
Committee for Evolution of the New Economic Policy (Ministry of HRD, Government of India) vide order No. 7-48/2015-PN-II, dated, 31st October 2015.
National University of Educational Planning and Administration
17-B, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi – 110016
Chairman – Shri T.S.R. Subramanian (former Cabinet Secretary) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._S._R._Subramanian
Members – Shri J.S. Rajput, Shrimati Shailaja Chandra, Shri Seva Ram Sharma, Shri Sudhir Mankad.
Report submitted to Government of India on 30/04/2016.
Chapter 4 – Need for a New National Education Policy
Chapter 5 – 8 Analysis relating to school education, higher education and institutional issues.
Chapter 5 – Governance in Education
Need for a New National Policy on Education
The National Policy on Education, as formulated in 1986 and modified in 1992, has been the guiding document of the policies of the Central Government in the education sector for well over two decades. During this period, significant changes have taken place in India and the world at large. New technologies have transformed the way in which we live, work, and communicate; the corpus of knowledge has vastly expanded and become multi-disciplinary and research has become far more collaborative. Since the NPE was last reviewed in 1992, there have been momentous changes in the situation in India and worldwide. These need to be taken into account in formulating a new NPE for the coming decades.
While the earlier policy was robust in conception and orientation, it has not delivered the desired results in terms of acceptable outcomes in the education sector. Despite the stated priority accorded to this sector and the plethora of specific programmes which have been launched, as well as, the infusion of massive public outlays over the years, the state of education remains a conspicuous weak spot in the economy, indeed in society at large.
The earlier NPEs had aimed at a number of overarching objectives, which included
- ‘development of quality’,
- ‘pace-setting institutions in all stages and all sectors’,
- ‘setting up of a large number of cluster centres aimed at achieving highest international standards’,
- ‘to promote excellence at all levels of the educational pyramid’,
- ‘a child-centred approach to education recognising the holistic nature of child development,
- to accord high priority to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) with suitable integration with ICDS programmes’,
to mention a few.
The previous NPE also emphasised need to raise outlays on education to 6% of GDP by 1992, and ‘uniformly exceed this figure thereafter’. The Right to Education Act 2009 created legal obligations to provide education to every child between ages of 6 to 14, as also to sharply improve the infrastructure facilities in schools.
The earlier policies had laid out clear objectives and goals; however, many of these have not been realised fully or even partially. This has largely been due to the absence of a clear workable roadmap and continuing operational guidance being put in place. Even more importantly, heavy politicisation at every level of operation of the school system, from the village/block level to state headquarters, as well as increasing corruption, reaching every aspect of school administration have been prominent developments in the past three decades or so. These adverse factors have permeated every aspect of school administration, contributing to the current extremely poor educational conditions at the ground level– negating the noble objectives of the policy of 1986-92.
The ground reality today is, depressingly, quite different from what was envisaged in the earlier policies. While gross enrolment in schools, as also at higher education institutions, has gone up sharply, these have been accompanied with many undesirable new factors. While the infrastructure facilities in the school system have significantly improved, there has been a little corresponding impact on the quality of instruction or learning – on the contrary, repeated studies have indicated a worrisome decline in learning outcomes in schools. The perceived failure of the schools in the government system to provide education of minimal quality has triggered entry of a large number of wholly private or aided schools, even in rural areas. Concurrently, there has been a mushroom growth of private colleges and universities, many of them of indifferent quality; leading up to questions about the quality of degrees generally obtained in the system. In short, while there has been some improvement in infrastructure, and significant gains in respect of enrollment and access, new gnawing worries about the quality of education have increasingly bedevilled the education system. These need urgent attention.
Education and public health are possibly the two most important development vectors in a democracy. While adequate financing alone will not address the needs of the education sector, governments in successive decades also do not appear to have comprehended the imperative need to ensure minimum essential funding to this area, which offers potentially the best investment opportunities for coming generations. This is a critical gap in overall national policy in the past decades.
As mentioned earlier, the quality of school education has been steadily on the decline. Inadequate stress in early childhood years has severely contributed to poor learning outcomes at successive secondary and higher education periods. Serious gaps in teacher motivation and training, sub-optimal personnel management in the education sector, an absence of necessary attention to monitoring and supervision of performance at all levels – in short, an overall neglect of management issues in this field have contributed to the current state of affairs. While, it is true that there is a wide disparity in this regard between states, with some states having displayed encouraging initiatives and innovative management, the overall picture in the country is unsatisfactory. A renewed look at policies in this regard, as also on a framework for implementation has become imperative.
Imperative – When something absolutely has to be done and cannot be put off, use the adjective imperative. ‘Imperative’ is from Latin imperare “to command,” and its original use was for a verb form expressing a command: “Do it!” is an imperative sentence. It’s still used that way, but it’s more commonly applied to something so pressing it cannot be put off: “Hiring new workers has become imperative.” It has more immediate force than pressing but less than urgent.
While the RTE of 2009 has led to significant increase in enrollment, as also stress on infrastructure, new issues in the implementation phase have arisen which need to be addressed. In particular the ‘no detention policy’ needs to be examined, to ensure that it is optimally and judiciously implemented.
Despite references in the earlier policies to Early Childhood Education, there are no systems firmly in place to ensure this. This gap needs to be addressed effectively and comprehensively, without delay.
There is no clearly laid out policy in respect of private participation in the education system, both at the school and higher education levels. While there is scope for differential treatment of this issue in different states, the respective roles to be played by private-public players is not currently defined. Issues of regulation, autonomy and fee structure have all been dealt with in an ad-hoc manner, now requiring some baselines to be established. The rapid growth of higher education institutions, many of dubious quality and functioning in the grey market, has raised the question of necessary minimal financial conditions to be created to foster institutions of reasonable quality. Issues of transparent quality evaluation of higher education institutions, and revamping the system of affiliation are all issues which need to be currently addressed. The menace of institutions which have sprung up on the philosophy of ‘degrees for cash’ need to be squarely tackled.
In an aspirational society, it is natural that parents desire their children to obtain ‘good’ education. However, formally linking the development of skills in vocational fields, bringing an academic equivalence to vocational accomplishments has not been seriously attempted. This also means that avenues for horizontal and vertical mobility of students have not been provided to an adequate degree. Fostering dignity and social acceptability to high-quality vocational training is an important goal that begs attention.
While all higher educational institutions are not expected to engage in academic research, the overall engagement and accomplishments in the field of research leave much to be desired. Research and innovation are key to promoting a dynamic and vibrant academic scene, with a potential to contribute significantly to the economy. This aspect needs to be seriously addressed for appropriate redressal.
Despite the disparity in women’s participation in higher education having been enunciated from the 1968 policy, the situation is far from satisfactory although several laudable efforts have been made leading to a higher enrolment of women, including in professional courses.
- Enunciate – Can’t get your point across? Maybe you just need to speak more clearly or articulate your thoughts better — in short, enunciate. Good enunciation is similar to pronunciation but describes more specifically, how clearly someone expresses themselves. The word enunciate is related to the Latin words for both “announce” and “messenger.” So most likely those ancient Romans who created the word wanted a messenger who could announce things without mumbling, grumbling, and rambling.
- Articulate – To articulate is to say something. And, if you say it well, someone might praise you by saying you are articulate. Confused yet? It’s all in the pronunciation.
Reach for articulate when you need an adjective meaning “well-spoken” (pronounced ar-TIC-yuh-lit) or a verb (ar-TIC-yuh-late) meaning “to speak or express yourself clearly.” The key to understanding articulate‘s many uses is to think of the related noun article: an articulate person clearly pronounces each article of his or her speech (that is, each word and syllable), and an articulated joint is divided up into distinct articles, or parts.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has made rapid strides in the past couple of decades. New technologies are now available for information dissemination, enhancement of skills of all sorts, not yet suitably adapted to the needs of the education sector. The immense potential for inducting ICT, to come to the aid of Indian education in myriad innovative ways has not been harnessed. Many experiments have taken place in the country, and a large body of knowledge has accumulated in this regard. ICT now provides a new and potentially highly effective vehicle for advancing the quality of education at all levels; this issue needs to be seriously explored and the alternatives expounded.
In short, while much has been achieved, there are serious gaps in implementation at the field level, and a worrisome lack of quality in every element of the entire system. It is necessary to recognise the ground conditions if any major improvement is to be attempted. The issues mentioned above need to be diagnosed properly and addressed effectively.
The Government of India has launched several social and developmental initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Digital India, Skill India, Make in India and Smart Cities. All these initiatives have significant backwards and forward linkages with the education sector which need to be taken into account in the new NPE. For example, the induction of ICT also underlines the imperative necessity of providing electricity and connectivity; making computer hardware, software and technical support available in every school, especially in rural areas. Similarly, Skill India and Make in India require the mainstreaming of vocational education, practical knowledge, hands-on projects and courses oriented towards meeting the needs of industry and employment.
The rate of change has accelerated. New technologies and disciplines have emerged and new knowledge and insights are being generated at a rapid pace. Social media transmit and disseminate information and opinions almost instantaneously. Individuals, societies, governments and educational and other systems are often behind the curve in keeping pace with these developments.
Although expenditure on education has languished at well below the 6 percent of GDP envisaged in the earlier NPE, there have also been pervasive (when something is pervasive, it’s everywhere. Common things are pervasive — like greed and cheap perfume) and persistent failures in implementation leading to sub-optimal utilisation of the resources provided. The survey of the present situation in the education sector underlines that outside interference; absence of accountability; unregulated commercialization and lack of standards continue to exist and have, indeed, increased substantially during the past two decades. It would not be an exaggeration to say that large segments of the education sector in India face a serious crisis of credibility in terms of the quality of education which they provide, as well as the worth of the degrees which they confer on students.
While ‘equity’ and ‘access’ have been, rightly stressed in the past as the guiding principles in the education field, the issue of quality has hitherto (as yet; used in negative statement to describe a situation that has existed up to this point or up to the present time) effectively been relegated to the background. It has now become an imperative necessity to lay major emphasis on improvement of quality across the board, without compromising on equity and access.
Relegate means assign to a lower position. If the quarterback of the football team stops making decent throws he might be relegated to the position of benchwarmer, while another kid is given the chance to play. Relegate rhymes with delegate––both words derive from the Latin legare “send.” Relegate means to send someone down in rank. Delegate means to send someone in your place to complete a task. In the workplace, managers who can’t figure out how to delegate may get relegated to a lesser rank.
It is now time to undertake a comprehensive review of the educational scene in India, as it is currently being administered and implemented, and articulate a new NPE.
Governance in Education
Chapter 5.1 Administration and Management of Education
The Indian Education system is among the largest in the world, with about 26 crore children enrolled in classes 1 to 12, located in 36 states and union territories, 683 districts, about 7300 blocks and more than 82,000 clusters, covering more than 15.1 lakh schools; the total number of teachers functioning in the system (both in public and private schools) is of the order of 80 lakhs. This does not include the enrollment in higher education institutions, which cover more than 3 crore students. In many senses, this is one of the largest areas of direct contact between the state and the citizen, with nearly 1/5th of the population directly involved daily in the teaching /learning process.
Despite the above, the states’ political machinery (the chief minister or the cabinet ministers) in general attach less significance in terms of political attention to the education sector, compared to the issues relating to law and order, development administration or farming issues etc., highly important as these are. Perhaps this stems from a number of factors which include
(a) the main point of contact is with children, who are below the voting age;
(b) education is a long gestation process, where results come over years, whereas the average politician looks for engagement with events or issues which show movement over a much more limited period of time;
(c) education is process oriented, not event-oriented;
(d) the daily events are repetitive, non-glamorous, and expectedly do not receive public attention, as it is taken as routine; and,
(e) it has no visible outcome in the daily run.
For these reasons, unless there is some special or noteworthy adverse event that takes place, the education sector is not usually in the political or media limelight.
The Education Department in the states occupies a relatively low position in the hierarchy of departments that get the attention of the political executive; even though there is large interest shown on issues relating to teachers’ postings/transfers and recruitment. While no formal studies appear to be available, it can be generally postulated that the overall ‘quality’ of education is a function of the political attention that the sector has received from the political system. In the composite educational development index (2014-15) for all schools developed by NUEPA, using parameters relating to access, infrastructure, number of teachers and outcomes, it may be observed that by-and-large states leading in educational outcome are also those with relatively higher per capita incomes; the states towards the bottom of the table are also generally speaking those with relatively lower per capita income (many of these in the latter group are also from the heartland of India). While pointing out that this key area is not sufficiently researched by think-tanks and research institutions attached to the MHRD, a very general conclusion can be tentatively drawn that attention from the chief minister and senior ministers, and the importance given to this sector by the political leadership in a state, is directly related to the quality of education provided by the state. The Committee had occasion to observe the broad validity of the above statement, in its discussions with the state governments.
In addition to the senior political leadership in the state, the political class in general, is wary of the teacher community, and is usually reluctant to take rational steps for monitoring and improving the management in the sector; this is possibly due to the general impression that the teacher community being associated with the election process, should be handled with kid-gloves. The general impression is that all parties like to use teachers for political work during elections, as they are perceived to be effective opinion-makers in many rural communities; thus investing the teacher community with political importance. With the legal provision in RTE (Section 27) relating to the use of teachers on various administrative unrelated chores, to free them to devote time exclusively to school work, this issue may not be so relevant in future. The states need to consciously take steps in furtherance of this requirement, to phase out the involvement of teachers in administrative work.
Elsewhere in this report, recommendations have been made relating to the other extraneous (not pertinent to the matter under consideration) work of the tehsil/block being entrusted to teachers. For education standards to improve, it should be ensured that the teachers are not pressed into service to aid the general administration at the expense of their primary school-related work; they should be largely left primarily to teaching in schools.
Indeed there is no reason why appropriate effective management mechanisms should not be ushered in the school sector. The Committee’s experience is that by-and-large the teacher community consists of sincere persons with potential, where most teachers would perform with dedication, but a small proportion amongst them takes advantage of the lack of supervision and uses political contact to gain proximity to power and thereby exercise influence on the majority of teachers. This results in standards of discipline and pride in belonging to a noble profession giving way to apathy and negligence of core responsibilities. Ultimately, this affects the quality of teaching and learning outcomes. There is need to establish impersonal systems designed to ensure oversight of the work of Principals and teachers – in short management at the school level.
usher – That guy who guided you to your seat? He’s called an usher. You most often see ushers at movie theatres and weddings. An usher is someone with the job of helping people find their seats. At the movies, ushers take your tickets and tell you where to go. At some theatres and sports venues, the ushers might actually take you to your seat — they usher you there. If you’re an usher in a wedding party, it’s your job to walk guests down the aisle and to their seats. The doorkeeper at a courtroom or legislative chamber is called an usher, too.
The process of selection, promotion and transfer of teachers and Principals need to be made transparent, on established principles. The teacher education system needs to be drastically revamped. The criteria for approval of new institutions and their regular evaluation need to be strengthened, with new open processes established, along with extensive use of IT. These can help reduce political interference and corruption and restore credibility in the system.
Political intervention from all levels is all pervasive in selecting the location of institutions, approval of grant-in-aid status, selection of examination centres, and all senior appointments and in many states from VC to college Principals to District Education Officers. Any functionary or close observer could give any number of examples from his own experience to substantiate this point.
It is sadly undeniable that there is large scale corruption in appointments, transfers, approval of affiliation and grant of recognition to institutions, even going to the extent of manipulation of examination results. A cross-section of stakeholders gave examples of widespread corruption which prevails in the functioning of regulators like AICTE, UGC, MCI and NCTE; the general refrain was that any obstacle can be overcome by contacting the right persons. Commercialisation is rampant and reflected in the extent of charges levied for admissions ranging from tiny tots to professional courses; some reliable private estimates in such instances go up to very large sums. The proliferation of tuition/coaching classes is a clear index of the lack of credibility of the school system (personal comments – children have a varying ability to grasp the concepts being taught and hence, need extra level of attention depending on their intellectual abilities that cannot be provided in limited school hours; therefore, the need for extra tuitions or coaching classes). Most senior officials in the states are apathetic at best, and display lack of probity, a factor undeniable in the entire hierarchy, with honourable exceptions. Compounded with bureaucratic–academic nexus, the pernicious role of regulators, general apathy and the loss of respect for scholarship have all contributed to the diminished credibility of the education system.
pernicious – Pernicious means harmful and subtle, such as a poison gas that causes cancer in those exposed to it over the course of years. ‘Pernicious’ comes from the Latin perniciosus, for destructive, which in turn comes from pernicies, for death or ruin. You might have heard your parents and teachers talk about the pernicious effects of watching too much TV and playing video games all day––they’ll turn your brain to mush.
It is no wonder that anyone having dealings with the education system has generally lost faith in its credibility. In particular, those who can afford to turn their backs on government schools and colleges reach out to private schools or migrate abroad for study – not that many private schools are significantly superior to their counterparts run by the state. The point, in short, is that the system is largely sick, and needs rejuvenation – the quality of education, which is critical, has been the main casualty thereby converting the sacred process of education to an unregulated commercial system. The Committee would like to mention a caveat that while the above is the norm, there are many fine institutions, run by motivated altruistic agencies and individuals, which still maintain very high standards – even though, alas, they are too few in number.
The Committee also heard repeatedly in nearly every individual or group discussion at Delhi and during field visits, of ‘political interference’ as the main reason for poor performance in the education field. Nearly every field education official, at state or district or block level, when asked to analyse the reasons for poor performance in the sector, would invariably point to political interference. During the meetings with national educational institutions at Delhi or informal contacts with state level officials all over India, this was again the single most important reason mentioned by all the respondents. Thus, when national accrediting agencies were asked to explain why undeserving educational institutions often received rapid accreditation, while ‘more qualified’ institutions were left out of the process for long periods, the answer almost invariably would relate to political interference. Thus, at the school level (postings and transfers of principals and teachers) at the block level, at the district level, the common refrain of all officials involved in education would relate to ‘politics’ as the mainspring for non-performance. The Committee cannot ignore this repeated assertion brought to its attention in different forms in diverse circumstances – the clear conclusion is that ‘political interference’ is almost certainly the most important reason for poor outcomes. This significant factor negates any effort to administer the system or reward efficiency and dedication.
In many states, past experience has indicated that selection of teachers has been a highly skewed operation, where selection criteria normally include merit. However, extraneous factors relating to improper monetary considerations often become the decisive factor in the selection process. The point also was repeatedly made that the postings of teachers, in many states, did not follow an open transparent policy based on clearly understood principles – it was decided on the whims and fancies of the various authorities, motivated by extraneous monetary and other factors, and also influenced by local political interests – forcing the teacher community willy-nilly to secure positions and postings through political patronage. The Committee also found that in the past, and continuing now, there has been no credible or reliable system of measurement of a teacher’s output or performance – promotion or increments have generally had little correlation with merit or performance, the management of the educational manpower being largely non-transparent and arbitrary. It was also repeatedly mentioned that the teacher preparation before joining or in-service periodical training courses were routine, unstructured, and generally irrelevant to enhancing teacher quality; there was hardly any merit-based supervision or logic in the management of the sector. In sum, all the above have contributed to the suboptimal performance by the teacher/principal community, on whose morale, efficiency and initiative the success of the school education sector is dependent.
skewed – Something skewed is slanted or off-center in some way. A picture frame or viewpoint can be skewed. This is a word, like so many, that can apply to physical things or ideas. A painting on the wall is skewed if it’s leaning to one side. Also, opinions are often skewed: this is another way of saying someone is biased. People often accuse news reports of being skewed toward one political viewpoint. A movie could be skewed toward one character more than the other. When you think of skewed, think of leaning and slanting of all sorts.
It should be added that this general criticism is not valid in respect of all states in India; the Committee was pleased to note the high degree of positive interest taken by the political leadership in some states (alas, too few), as well as steps initiated to improve the management of the teacher/principal community, and make the process of decision-making more transparent, predictable and based on clear parameters.
Very similar kinds of comments or allegations or assessments were readily available in informal comments relating to the higher education sector. The Committee heard of institutions charging large capitation fees (illegal), as also colleges readily issuing degrees against payments proffered under-the-table; the general informal comment was that all ‘approvals’ were ‘purchasable’.
Whether or not these adverse comments, severe as they are, largely true or not, the conclusion is inescapable that governance standard at all levels has been poor, to say the least. Processes and procedures have been rolled out without due consideration for verification or ensuring that these are implemented faithfully on the ground. It is also likely that the charge of political interference is often made facilely, more to mask corruption at the official levels and shift the blame elsewhere. It is equally noteworthy that while nearly every agency or institution at the Centre or in the state talked openly about these factors, no research or regulatory institution or national level statutory bodies attached to the ministry has openly researched these matters, and validated or dismissed these allegations. It is a measure of the pusillanimity of the national institutions attached to the MHRD, with full-time senior academics and professionals, being unable to openly comment on the current state of affairs, without which remedies are not possible. These are not new trends, but the result of weak management, poor control, the politicisation of sector and the abdication of basic management practices at the Centre or the State, which have allowed major vested interests to develop over the decades. It is also abundantly clear that in those few states which formally recognised the lack of governance in the education sector as the key issue, and put in place remedial steps, there has clearly been an overall improvement in outcomes.
- The Committee concludes that in many parts of the education system, at the school or higher levels, factors other than merit have played and are playing a significant part in the management of affairs; proper governance standards have not been put into place with adequate incentives, checks and balances.
- The Committee recommends that all aspects in the hierarchy be reviewed to bring about transparency, clear-cut criteria in operations, an establishment of open systems, independent outside verification to ensure compliance; and use of Information Technology appropriately to achieve the above.
Among the major changes required, one can indicate the following:(i) Independent mechanism for teacher recruitment – the recent TET mechanism (with appropriate safeguards) will ensure good quality recruitment of teachers.
(i) Independent mechanism for teacher recruitment – the recent TET mechanism (with appropriate safeguards) will ensure good quality recruitment of teachers.
(ii) Creation of an Autonomous Teacher Recruitment Board.
(iii) Revamp of teacher education system and the introduction of a four-year integrated B.Ed. Course or a two-year B.Ed. Course after graduation.
(iv) Well thought out teacher preparation systems.
(v) Effective monitoring of teacher performance, with built-in incentive systems.
(vi) Grant of extra-increments, preferred postings and state/district recognition awards need to be related to measurable outcomes in respect of teacher-performance.(vii) Great care in
(vii) Great care in the selection of Principals, and vesting them with appropriate freedom for action.
(viii) Build an effective quality monitoring system, linking the schools on the hierarchical management system, at the block/district/state level.
(ix) A new transparent system for approval, affiliation and regular evaluation of new institutions, with transparent processes, based on clearly established principles, with full public disclosure.(x) Bringing accountability at each level of operation.
(x) Bringing accountability at each level of operation.
(xi) Appropriate use of Information Technology in every aspect of governance of the sector.
All the above have been separately discussed and course of action recommended in the appropriate sections elsewhere. Elsewhere also the need for coordination within the State, at the State Capital, Division, District, Block, and school levels has been made. Information Technology can be used as a major tool in furtherance of the above objectives. The Committee is satisfied that if substantive steps on the above-mentioned lines are taken, the quality of governance will sharply improve, with consequent significant enhancement in the quality of education.
Use of ICT for Improving Quality of Education
Major developments in Communication and Information Technology in recent decades have brought in new dimensions in the fields of transmission of data, and use of IT as a vehicle for monitoring and management, among others. In the education sector, this is one fundamental change since the previous Education Policy of 1986-1992. New possibilities have already opened up for use of information technology in different ways, not only to manage the sector but also directly assist in enhancing the quality of teaching and learning. Many new applications are already in place; as developments in the IT sector advance rapidly, new opportunities constantly keep emerging, which could be appropriately harnessed and adapted to assist in the field of education.
The other significant development relates to the Digital India programme being rolled out under the initiative of the Government of India. As the implementation of this game-changing process advances, the likelihood is that the urban-rural divide will be bridged with a reliable communication information network, proceeding apace now and likely to be fully in place in the next three or four years. This will also sharply improve the quality and speed of delivery of information and many other services to the field, and could dramatically improve the two-way exchange of data between the field formations and the management located at district/state/central headquarters.
Some experiments have already taken place, of different dimensions and quality in the education field. As will be seen later, the District Information System for Education (DISE) programme for gathering information and data, which is already in place, can be sharply upgraded for greater reliability and use as a monitoring/management instrument. Many high-end schools, particularly in urban areas are already experimenting with video material to supplement the prescribed textbooks for use in the classroom. A number of private companies have emerged to create digital material for use in the classroom, as well as for individual learning – the fact that many of them are already successfully functioning as corporates indicate the potential in this regard. Distance learning has made significant progress; the Government of India’s initiative in creating IGNOU is an important landmark in this direction. The potential for using imaginatively information technology for preparation as well as in-service training of teachers, as also to support class teachers to put together creative teaching material to enhance the learning process needs to be explored, developed and exploited. The following sections indicate the possibilities as they appear today, in the opinion of the Committee. Without a doubt, many new potential applications of IT in aid of education will emerge in the coming years.
There is no question that the power of computer technology needs to be harnessed to aid the cause of teaching and learning in the field of education. Many experiments have taken place in the past few years, but a clear picture has so far not emerged as to the specific ways in which Information Technology (IT) is being utilised in the classroom and elsewhere. The Committee notes that while the MHRD has continuously supported new initiatives and experimentation in this field, the large number of expert organisations attached to the Ministry of HRD have not adequately addressed the issue, with research and analysis, to roll out programmes designed to harness IT to improve education in India.
This segment touches on the following elements:
Background: Use of ICT in education.
IT as an aid to the teacher in the classroom
IT to aid in remedial education.
IT for use in training of teachers.
IT for adult literacy.
IT modules as learning tools in higher education.
Use of IT for ‘big-data’ as a management and governance tool.
(a) Background: Use of ICT in Education
India recognised the importance of ICT in education as early as 1984-85 when Computer Literacy and Studies in Schools (CLASS) was introduced as a pilot project. Under this initiative, 2598 secondary schools were provided BBC microcomputers during the 8th Plan (1993-98). In 1998 National IT Task Force was constituted by the Prime Minister which made several recommendations for making available computers and educational software to teachers and students. Computers and Internet were to be made available to schools, colleges and polytechnics by the year 2003.
During the last decade, thousands of computers have been installed in upper primary and secondary/higher secondary schools under various programmes of Central and State Governments. Some States have introduced Computers as an optional subject in SSC Board examinations. The Government of India also provides assistance to States for the production of audio, video and multimedia programmes through State Institute of Education Technology (SIET) set up in 8 States, under the overall guidance and support of Central Institute of Education Technology.
The ‘significant role’ ICT can play in school education was also highlighted in the national curriculum framework 2005 (NCF). The essential component related to the establishment of ‘smart schools’ designed to become technology demonstrators. Till 2015, 85,127 ICT-enabled schools were established in the country under RMSA. The thrust had been essentially on familiarising the student with the use of computers, and teaching basic operations at secondary levels – the deployment of IT as an aid to education, or as a management tool had not been conceived of or focused on.
Unfortunately, the results of all these initiatives have not had the expected results. While computers have been provided to a very large number of schools, their use remains limited. In many schools, hardware remains locked in the headmasters’ room, and in many, they remain in their original packing, as either there are no teachers to operate them or the computer rooms have not been made ready, or the school does not have electric power, or grants to pay electricity bills. Even where computers are used, it is mostly to teach programs like Word and MS office. Textbooks teach the theory of computing, and examinations are conducted to test that knowledge; whereas, emphasis should have been on hands-on practical learning. Most schools do not have internet connectivity and computers are rarely used in Government schools as an aid for teaching and learning.
ICT should be made an integral part of school education where it is used as an aid to teachers and students. For this, a beginning has to be made in the Teacher Training Colleges. Unless teachers are comfortable using computers and the internet, they will find it difficult to use it as a teaching aid, or to guide students on its use; Teachers have to gradually become facilitators and encourage self-learning by students. Education can no longer be confined to what is in the textbooks; the internet has removed all barriers to learning and made available sources of knowledge not accessible so far. The examination system will have to be revamped to test knowledge and understanding and not reproduce the textbooks. ICT can no longer be treated as a school subject; it has to become a way of the learning process.
(b) IT as Aid to Teacher in the Classroom
In the past few years, a number of private initiatives have emerged India, to create video material following the textbooks in the curriculum of various school boards, or the NCERT suggested texts. Many schools in urban areas already use these aids to the teacher –such use is reported to be increasing particularly in urban schools. In this model, the use of a computer is not required by the student, nor even by the teacher; only a video projection or equivalent of textbook material, suitably prepared and adapted, with animation features to make it attractive for young children, is used as a teaching aid by the teacher in the classroom.
While surprisingly NCERT or NUEPA or any other technical/research agency has not found it necessary to do a study of these developments, the fact that many new corporate initiatives have emerged in this direction indicate that this has significant potential. No formal study is available to establish the efficacy and value-added potential of such training material in aid of teachers in the classroom; it can be surmised (infer from an incomplete evidence) that teachers do find it useful from the fact of an exponential increase in such practices. The sceptics may also have a point in speculating that the induction of such a technology is mere to impress the parent and the child about how ‘modern’ the school is in its teaching practices! This factor alone cannot disprove the potential for use of this method of teaching.
It has been said that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ – surely it should be possible to convey simple or even relatively complex concepts and ideas through animation and through pictorial depiction. It is important to pursue this as a potential instrument to sharply enhance the learning process in the classroom, particularly in the secondary schooling sector.
It is now fairly established that teaching material at the primary and secondary class levels, well prepared, and adapted to local conditions, can act as a powerful tool as an aid to the teacher, in enhancing the quality of learning to the student. Experiments, particularly at the primary level have clearly indicated that the teacher cannot be substituted – IT cannot by itself deliver the necessary instruction material to the student. However, where the teacher is able to use the well-prepared material as an aid in the classroom for the teaching process, significant improvements in learning ability have been recorded. The Committee was informed of one such initiative, described below.
The ‘Shiksha’ Experiment
A private foundation has been implementing ‘Shiksha’, a project in 340 schools across 244 villages, mostly rural, covering 15,000 students of Grade 1 and 2, in different parts of Uttar Pradesh, for the past two years. An extract from their report (according to them independently verified) is reproduced below:
“SHIKSHA Initiative” is a unique replicable and scalable program designed to enhance the education standard in primary education (Grade 1 and 2) with high-quality consistent content based on State Board syllabus and a technology-based mode of dissemination to instil learning retention among children. The pedagogy involves teaching with the aid of IT material, assessment of the student, querying, and augmentation – based on a procedure has been developed. The critical metric of the Shiksha Initiative is to ensure that 90% of the students (Grade 1 and 2) under the program retain 90% of the content taught in the classrooms.
According to the Foundation, independent assessment of the programme (the Committee did not have an opportunity to explore the evidence in depth) has demonstrated:-
(a) Increased enrolment in schools and increase in attendance percentage;
(b) Average attendance increase from 30% to 80% in Government schools and 90% in Private Schools;
(c) Increased education standards in grade 1 and 2 – Students now able to write in grade 1, not normally demonstrated by students even in grade 3;
(d) increased level of confidence in students:
(e) motivated teachers/students; and
(f) sharply increased scores in assessments.
The Committee notes that as Digital India is rolled out, the cost of the delivery system per classroom likely to decline dramatically; high-quality teaching material, once prepared, can be reproduced at nearly no cost.
It is clear that the above potentially path-breaking initiative, and perhaps other experiments elsewhere in India, will open new vistas for enhancing the quality of learning, particularly in lower classes (primary). Further experiments need to be embarked upon to test the methodology, with suitable adaptation, for higher classes, at the secondary level – the efficacy in conveying concepts relating to say physics or mathematics surely should be explored.
(c) IT to Aid in Remedial Education
Elsewhere, dealing with the school systems, the question of remedial education to help slow learners to come up to the average class level has been discussed. In the context of the RTE stipulation of no detention till class 8, it has become imperative to ensure that the relatively weak learners in each class are appropriately assisted in making up the gaps in their learning, to be generally in line with their cohorts as the schooling years progress. Since, detention is a harsh step and is to be resorted to only after all other attempts to bring a child to minimally acceptable levels in each class is exhausted, the remedial and augmentation modules, through animation and videos assume special significance. This is discussed elsewhere in the school section.
One attempt at remedial coaching may not be sufficient. In most rural areas, as also in urban areas, many parents would not be in a position to support private tuition to bring the child to minimally acceptable levels in each class. Apart from the remedial methods mentioned above, it needs also to be explored whether it is possible to arrange for learning modules, appropriately packaged for each subject relating to each class, be web-broadcast to be utilised on call or at specific timings in remote locations, where the student assisted by parents or teacher or on his own can use this additional option for making up for lost learning, and for coming up to minimal levels. This needs further exploration.
(d) IT as Training Material for Teachers
The generally accepted notion is that a child cannot learn, unaided, through video modules or through the internet; in many parts of the world interested adults have used these devices to study on their own. The Committee surmises (infer from incomplete evidence) that experiments may have been done in different parts of the world in this regard, particularly to prepare teachers as also to equip them to build their classroom lessons. Ministry of HRD has taken several measures to widen the use of ICT in schools, and many of these strategies have already been rolled out. It is suggested that a designated national agency should be encouraged to conduct experiments in this regard, and also monitor various initiatives being taken all over the country; some steps to encourage private initiative also would be useful. The proposed national agency can also be made responsible for tracking the use of software programmes and suggest improvements where possible. HRD has taken several measures to widen the use of ICT in schools, and many of these strategies have already been rolled out. It is suggested that a designated national agency should be encouraged to conduct experiments in this regard, and also monitor various initiatives being taken all over the country; some steps to encourage private initiative also would be useful. The proposed national agency can also be made responsible for tracking the use of software programmes and suggest improvements where possible.
(e) IT for Adult Literacy
There is much potential to use information technology to prepare relevant modules in aid of adult literacy. It is a common experience that adults will not spare the time to learn new things, unless they have special interests in acquiring new skills, or are motivated to learn new languages or other material. Thus, many illiterate women groups have been motivated to learn banking techniques through such IT video modules. A suitable agency in the Government of India should be encouraged to embark on new experiments in this regard.
(f) IT Modules as Learning Tools in Higher Education
There is an immense possibility of harnessing the power of IT in teaching/learning processes in higher education. In many western systems, even from senior school classes onwards, the basic lecture by the teacher is sent on the internet to be seen at home by the student, to be followed up in the classroom by a discussion, question-answer session and analysis – to sharply enhance the learning experience.
IGNOU has been a success in Indian conditions. As elsewhere pointed out, opportunities should now be available for private initiative in spreading E-education. Much experimentation will surely be useful in this regard, using the experience of IGNOU, and nominating IGNOU as the leader of this national initiative, with appropriate safeguards and directions. This theme has been dealt with, in Chapter 8.
(g) Other Possible uses of IT in Education
The above are only some of the new directions that need to be taken. As Digital India is rolled out fully, and more experiments are undertaken, it is equally likely that new innovative and imaginative uses of information technology will come to the fore, to be harnessed appropriately. The Committee has to leave this issue with the final thought that technology is only an enabler; it has to be harnessed and applied appropriately in each situation, to deliver new goals.
The above sections have indicated many new paths that need to be broken. As these are explored, further avenues will surely expand. A major thrust to use technology to enable sharply enhanced learning levels at the school and higher levels are now imperative.
(h) Revamping the Information Management System – ‘Big data’ in Education
The Government of India introduced the District Information System for Education (DISE) in 1994, to be implemented by NUEPA. As conceived at that time this was designed to capture information from every school, routeing it through the block level, and aggregating it at the district level for final compilation at the state headquarters. The first database was released in 1995, covering 18 states and 272 districts. With the launch of ‘Sarvashiksha Abhiyan’ (SSA) in 2001, the DISE covered the whole country; by 2005-06 nationwide data was published. Since then DISE data is now released annually, in both raw and processed form and made available in the public domain.
Under DISE, each school is to have an 11-digit ID code, with differentiated coding for elementary secondary and other classes, from classes 1 to 12. It was only from 2012-13 that a Single Data Capture Format (SDCF) was used across the country for entire school education consisting grade 1 to 12, with the code name U-DISE, located in NUEPA.
U-DISE is now the ‘Official Statistics’ and compiler of data; all other parallel connections for information is now discontinued. NUEPA as a nodal agency is responsible for data compilation, but their data is forever mentioned with the disclaimer that the ‘accuracy and faithfulness’ of the data rests with the State / UT concerned.
In concept, U-DISE is an extremely powerful instrument for gathering data. It must be noted that its validity depends on the reliability of the information/data being fed into the system. Since less than 10% schools have computers and reliable source of electricity, most of the data are generated manually and collated at block or district level. Compilation of voluminous data manually and collated at the block level is most likely to result in mistakes and inaccuracies, questioning the validity of the data. Thus, the reliability of the total data available at the state or national level could be highly questionable; with wide variations among states.
The Committee got the impression during field visits and discussions with state authorities that DISE data in many states may not be reliable. The Committee observed during its field visits that actual attendance in many primary schools was much less than the average attendance reported by DISE. In recent years, in some states, which have improved the computer capability in rural areas, the enrolment figures have actually shown a decline along with a corresponding increase in drop-out rates.
If DISE has to be an effective information, monitoring and management tool, it is imperative that the data captured is dependable. Fortunately, the roll out of Digital India may now help in this regard.
It may be noted that in the next two to three years all blocks will be covered through a fibreglass broadband network, as per the plans of the Ministry of Telecom; the connectivity will also be extended within a short period to 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats, with a local Wi-Fi hotspot for the exchange of data. In conjunction with a handheld information device developed in India, with high reliability, it should now be possible in the near future to bring electronic connectivity to every school, however remote.
In short, technology will be available within 2 years to populate DISE with fairly accurate data without time-lag, and without major manual data compilation, with relative ease and reliability. Preparations need to start without delay to use this opportunity to update the data collection systems on a real-time basis. The Committee has observed that at NUEPA, which is the focal point for national data compilation and dissemination, the data cell is highly inadequate. It also appears that it does not have competent advisory and technical arrangement with suitable IT expertise.
The Committee has observed that at NUEPA, which is the focal point for national data compilation and dissemination, the data cell is highly inadequate. It also appears that it does not have competent advisory and technical arrangement with suitable IT expertise.
Once this is rolled out, this system has the potential to be a game-changer. Every student (in every school, college, university or higher education institution), every teacher, Principal and the school could have a unique identity – with real-time monitoring of education progress of students, teachers’ contribution to learning, Principals’ performance and the role of school/institution in the education process. This can be an extremely powerful monitoring and management tool, to upgrade the education process phenomenally, in an open and transparent manner.
The DISE system is now geared only to government schools. It needs to be expanded to include some parts of private educational institutions (unique identity and monitoring of each student is a must) and otherwise, to capture necessary data relating to each private educational institution. That will complete the process of mounting a reliable educational data process.
Major developments in communication and information technology in recent decades have brought in new dimensions in the fields of transmission of data, use of IT as a vehicle for monitoring and management; also to directly assist in enhancing the quality of teaching and learning. Many new international applications possibilities have emerged; many of these have been tried out in Indian conditions. New possibilities continually keep emerging, which need to be appropriately harnessed and adapted in the field of education. It should also be noted that this will be an ongoing process, requiring initiatives from all stakeholders to contribute to the quality of education in India.
ICT should be made an integral part of school education where it is used as an aid to teachers and students. For this, a beginning has to be made in the Teacher Training Colleges. Unless teachers are comfortable using computers and the internet, they will find it difficult to use it as a teaching aid, or to guide students on its use. Teachers have to gradually become facilitators and encourage self-learning by students. Education can no longer be confined to what is in the textbooks; the internet has removed all barriers to learning and made available sources of knowledge not accessible so far. The examination system will have to be revamped to test knowledge and understanding and not reproduce the textbooks. ICT can no longer be treated as a school subject, it has to become a way of the learning process. This field is to be explored seriously and rolled out, in an appropriate manner, synchronising with the Digital India Programme; such an approach will yield major dividends in a relatively short time.
ICT needs to be harnessed and adapted for Indian conditions to meet diverse objectives – in many fields where meaningful experimentation have taken place, as also new as-yet-tried out fields to be covered, including the following:
IT as an aid to the teacher in the classroom.
IT to aid in remedial education.
IT for use in training of teachers.
IT for adult literacy.
IT modules as learning tools in higher education.
Use of IT for ‘big-data’ as a management and governance tool.
The potential for application of ICT in aid of education is immense. It is suggested that a designated national agency should be encouraged to conduct experiments in regard to the potential use of ICT in the field of education, and also monitor various initiatives being taken all over the country.
Constitution of a Standing Education Commission
The span of activity covered in the education sector in India is vast. In the vibrant aspirational democracy that India is, education should be in the frontline of national attention. With its universal outreach and potential for transforming society, it needs no emphasis that it deserves extraordinary attention.
Both in the policy formulation and the operational aspects, a major role is played by the Central Government. While certain aspects have a national focus, the States have considerable flexibility in applying their own norms in almost every segment of the education field. While the Central Government is responsible for overall national policy formulation, it is assisted by a number of a statutory or administrative agencies and institutions, which play a major role in every aspect of implementation; the states have also a number of supporting institutions, mostly autonomous, to assist in the rolling out of policies in the field.
The first post-independence National Educational Policy was announced in 1968; the next NEP 86/92 was in 1992. Subsequently, the Right to Education Act was promulgated along with the implementation of major programmes, covering the school and higher education sectors, as referred to elsewhere in this report. The sector has grown manifold in the past three decades, with the rate of growth not likely to slow down.
To promulgate is to officially put a law into effect. Your state may announce a plan to promulgate a new traffic law on January 1st. Laws aren’t the only things you can promulgate. The word ‘promulgate’ comes from the Latin word promulgatus, meaning “make publicly known.” Someone can promulgate values, belief systems, and philosophies — it just means they’re promoted or made public. For example, you might write an article to promulgate the benefits of eating only organic foods.
Amidst all these activities, the need for an overarching institution has been felt, which can assist the Central Government in providing a continuing overview, as the national education scene keeps reinventing itself on a nearly continuous basis. As new developments take place with great rapidity, the responses need to keep pace with the changed circumstances. The education sector requires the advice, guidance and assistance of a high-quality think-tank, to help it be in touch with the continually emerging challenges, which beckon policy changes to be effected from time to time.
The Committee recommends that a high-level standing Education Commission is established, with the mandate to continually study the evolving circumstances, the implementation of the progress of policies pronounced, and provide timely advice and guidance to the ministry. It is not expected that the Commission would be an executive body, nor would its recommendations or advice would have any binding character. The Commission may also evolve the practice of issuing a ‘National State of Education’ report periodically perhaps once in two years. It is expected that the Commission will comprise of a limited number of experts and persons of eminence who have special knowledge and experience of the education sector in India, supported by a small secretariat.
Need to Restrict Political and Other Distractions in University and College Campuses.(?)
Most students in our colleges and universities enrol themselves for study in courses of their choice; they spend a precious part of their young life in the pursuit of their education, with the intent of equipping themselves for various occupations, or to study a subject which interests them. Most of them spend significant resources, including hard-earned money of their parents; they also expend much emotional energy in preparing for the examinations, and to undertake the necessary steps to get the degree. Most students in almost all colleges and universities could be classified in the above category.
However, one frequently hears of agitations, disturbances, gheraos and movements of one sort or the other in various campuses from time to time; it is not infrequent that examinations need to be postponed, or in some cases, the student even loses a year or more, due to unsettled conditions. Many of these adverse circumstances arise out of the activities of various groups of students and other interested parties, whose priority may not be that of the mainline student, but who may have other interests outside academic goals. Many national parties have their ‘chapters’ in nearly every university campus in India. Many campuses also have caste-or-community based organisations. Thus, one finds unions or associations of subsets of students, or teachers, or other employees, who aggressively pursue their special political, or other interests, within the arena of the campus, and the college/university ambit. It is not infrequent, that two or more of such groups of students or faculty members come into serious opposition with each other on this, or other issue and have no hesitation in blocking the mainline work of the university; they may have real or imagined grievances, but the collateral damage to the serious students can be heavy indeed.
The Constitution provides every citizen with the right to form groups or associations. However, every right has a corresponding duty implicitly attached to it, that every right is circumscribed to ensure that it shall not adversely affect the interest of others. The Committee finds no major study in this regard, which has analysed the activities of such political, or sectoral, or caste, or community organisations, or groups, or ‘clubs’ on the campus, and evaluated their impact on the average student, and the cause of education in India – the cost of the damage is rarely estimated in such situations.
Traditionally, universities in the US and the western world have encouraged new ideas to flourish, and have never placed any restriction of any kind on freedom of speech or association within their campuses. It should also, however, be noted that one has rarely heard in the context of US, or Europe, or other educationally developed countries of postponement of examinations or disruption of academic activities, arising out of groups of students pursuing their ‘right’ to free speech and association. Thus, while intense political activity takes place nationally during an election year in the US, like in 2016, and the student groups discuss these issues with much animation, one has never heard of disruption of the academic atmosphere in these universities. India, having its own unique features, needs to learn from other systems, as well as, adopt or adapt them to our special needs. The Committee wishes to pose the question, without giving a clear-cut formula, whether the time has come to take this issue seriously and see if some steps are required to safeguard the interests of the vast majority of the students in pursuing their academic goals.
Universities and colleges are temples of learning. Some self-imposed restrictions surely should be in place, to ensure that the primary work of the universities should be conducted without hindrance. Ideally, the universities ought not to lend themselves as playgrounds for the larger national rivalries, inequalities, inequities, and social/cultural fault-lines; these need to be tackled by society, as a whole, in other fora, such as parliament, courts, elections, etc. The point, in short, is that it is now essential to review the current situation, and find the balance between free speech and freedom of association guaranteed by the Constitution, the needs of various sections of society, and balance them with the primary purpose for which the universities and institutions of higher learning have been established.
(a) The Lyngdoh Committee
In 2005, the Apex Court asked the Lyngdoh Committee to look into the issue of elections in universities and colleges. The thrust of the Supreme Court conclusions clearly favoured strong restrictions on method, system and procedures of elections to unions within the institution. The Supreme Court accepted a number of recommendations, which inter alia (among other things) correspond to curbing of the activities of student unions etc., which could potentially disrupt the academic atmosphere. “There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes.” Indeed, the use of loudspeakers for the purpose of canvassing was to be prohibited. The thrust of the Apex Court’s judgment is clearly to preserve the academic atmosphere in the institution. It is suggested, that an examination may be made to extend the principles of the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations, to be expanded to include ‘non-recognition to student groups that are explicitly based on caste, religion, or one political party’(?).
(b) Permission for Period of Stay of a ‘Student’ in the Campus
One other element needs to be stressed. One frequently hears of ‘students’ who continue for 7 or 8 years or more, enrolled in the university, and occupying the hostels – in general, should there not be some guidelines or time limits for enrollment in a particular course or for occupation of hostels; those who stay for long periods start ‘owning’ the universities, and frequently have an undue influence on the course of non-academic activities in campuses.
The argument is often heard that the universities are the crucibles where ‘political leadership’ is created in India. There may not be universal acceptance of this thesis, nor even its validity.(?)
A crucible is a melting pot used for extremely hot chemical reactions — the ‘crucible’ needs to be melt-proof. Literally, a ‘crucible’ is a vessel used for very hot processes, like fusing metals. Another meaning of the word is a very significant and difficult trial or test. Scaling Mt. Everest with your legs tied together would be a crucible, as would swimming the English Channel blindfolded. Whether or not to have children is a crucible for many people.
The Committee surely does not want to give the impression that it is in favour of the curbing of free speech or right to association – the Constitution has guaranteed this to every citizen. Indeed, the Committee has no immediate prescription to ‘solve’ the problem. The Committee, however, strongly recommends that this issue should be the subject of public debate, not only involving the vocal segments of the community, who are votaries of ‘free speech’, but also the large silent mass of students and parents – indeed the community at large – to see if action, if any, is required. This is merely a plea, for highlighting the issue – so that some light can be thrown on it through a large public discussion, in a calm and quiet atmosphere.
It should be added, that the Committee has consulted at least one senior advocate. The opinion received indicates that reasonable restriction on speech or association, which falls squarely within the ambit of Article 19, may not be deemed to be a violation of fundamental rights. ‘Prohibiting such activities within the campuses – or within a radius thereof – will be considered as reasonable’.(?)
The Committee recommends a careful and non-emotional examination of the issue of permitting chapters of national political parties, or caste/community-based organisations, within campuses of universities. The Committee recognizes the great importance of unfettered (not bound by shackles and chains) generation of ideas, free speech and association in university campuses; it wishes to draw the impact in many circumstances of these on the rights of the students who are keen to pursue their academic goals in a time bound manner, in which they have invested heavily in time, energy and emotions. Should there be an enforceable code of conduct, or a law consistent with Article 19, are issues that could be covered in the discussions.
The Committee, also, would suggest a debate on the desirability of allowing students to continue in campuses for long periods, even after the normal schedules for each course, or preparation of working for Ph. D etc. is over; should there be time limits imposed on these elements?
The Committee recommends a revisit of the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee as they have found support from the Apex Court. Student groups, that are explicitly based on caste, religion, or any political party should be abjured through the statutes governing the universities and institutions.
Abjure means to swear off, and it applies to something you once believed. You can abjure a religious faith, you can abjure your love of another person, and you can abjure the practice of using excessive force in interrogation. Abjure is a more dramatic way to declare your rejection of something you once felt or believed. When you see its Latin roots, it makes sense: from ab- (meaning “away”) and ‘jurare’ (“to swear”). When you abjure something, you swear it away and dissociate yourself with it. You might abjure the field of astrology after receiving a bad fortune, or you might abjure marriage after a bitter divorce.
Chapter 5.5 Creation of an All India Education Service
The subject of the creation of a Central Service, exclusively in the field of education has been suggested from time to time. Education is a field, where the Central Government has a significant role to play; equally the states have the flexibility and the autonomy to make policies, create institutions, and manage the sector in the manner best suited. The education sector in India employs, nearly one crore personnel at all levels, including the school and higher education segments – this is roughly 8 times the next largest organised employing sector, viz. Railways or the Armed Forces. Looking it at differently, apart from the rural agriculture sector, and the textile sector, which provides the largest employment in the country, (though not on organised wage employment basis), the national education sector is the largest organised employer in the country. The sector also has the maximum public contact from the government – it is estimated that 1/5th of the population is in daily touch with the formal education sector in India.
The attention given to the management of the sector, as discussed elsewhere, is not commensurate with the seminal role it plays in national society. The largest segment of employment in this sector relates to school teachers and principals – elsewhere improvement in personnel management to these critical groups of employees is discussed. Again the issue of overall management of the sector is covered in the subchapter relating to Governance in the education field.
Many states have created an Education Service, to man the administrative and management posts within the state. By and large, the quality of people in these cadres is reasonably good; the main reason, why they are unable to pull their weight in improving management in the sector is due to poor governance factors, discussed elsewhere, as well as, the fact that the state cadre officers, rarely get to policy-making positions within the state. Even at the Centre, the senior personnel in the ministry dealing with policy generally are from various ‘All India services’, with strong representation from the IAS Cadre. The supporting statutory and other institutions of the MHRD, including the universities, have their own cadres, specially recruited, with little mobility to move to other fields in the education sector.
It is also observed, that while vertical movement among the various groups of employees in the sector is often restricted, their movement across segments of the education sector is also quite limited. By and large, upward mobility is restricted by the principle of seniority, with little emphasis on merit. The lack of cross-fertilisation of ideas stemming from the absence of horizontal mobility is a serious constraint on improving the quality of management in the education sector. There is no cadre of high repute and credibility with mobility potential across and within states for managing the sector.
The Committee feels that the time has now come to create an ‘All India’ service – the Indian Education Service. While this could be patterned on the other All India Services, there could be significant differentiation, taking into account the special needs of personnel to function in the sector. The UPSC commands high credibility. It is proposed that the IES (Indian Education Service) could also be recruited through the UPSC.(?)
Pending the commencement of direct national recruitment to the IES, there could be a one-time special recruitment, under the aegis of the UPSC to get the service going, from among the existing cadres in the various states. Creation of an Indian Education Service would require the support of the states.
The Committee recommends the establishment of a new Central service, the Indian Education Service (IES), which will function as an All India Service; with the officers being on a permanent settlement to various state governments, and the MHRD being the cadre controlling authority. Persons from the cadre would progressively man the higher level policy posts at the state and the Centre; they will be, like other AIS officers, deployed in teaching or managerial positions; there is also the possibility for lending IES officers to education institutions, which will broaden the experience, and in course of time, enhance their efficacy. Part of the manning of the national institutions attached with MHRD could also come from this cadre.
Chapter 5.6 Dealing with Litigation
There are thousands of court cases, at the Centre and in the states, mostly concerning service conditions of teachers and other officials working in the education departments. The highest echelons of the Department spend a lot of time and energy in responding to court matters, which often drag on for long periods, resulting in neglect of other important matters concerning the education sector’s core priorities and functions. With the proliferation of Central Universities, as well as, institutions like Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas etc., there is a large backlog of cases in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and in courts.
In a number of states, posts of school heads are lying vacant for years due to litigation. Many teacher recruitment processes are also inordinately (beyond normal limits) delayed due to litigation. The school education departments and directorates in many states, find it difficult to cope with the volume of court cases, particularly in personnel related matters, but also to others arising out of different kinds of administrative decisions. In a number of contempt of court cases, senior officers are often required to attend court personally. The Committee even heard, probably facetiously (not seriously), that many states have two secretaries in each education department – one to handle the department’s work, and the other to attend the High Court and other courts on summons for answering ‘contempt’ charges; the point is that this issue has not been hitherto (as yet) properly addressed. The Committee is satisfied that a new approach to deal with the volume of such litigation needs to be examined, to result in savings in time, energy and cost.
The main reasons for such large number of court cases relate to a lack of clarity in procedures, arbitrary action, lack of transparency and indifference towards genuine grievances. Attention needs to be given to addressing these administrative issues, which would help reduce litigation.
A system needs to be devised to attend to grievances, particularly relating to service matters, as also a follow-up of administrative decisions, expeditiously and in a fair manner, especially to deal with the volumes of such litigation in states. The Committee suggests that each State Government may consider setting up judicial tribunals at the state headquarters, and even at other centres in the state as required, headed by a retired district judge or high court judge, with two serving or retired state government officers of the secretary level as members. The number of tribunals could increase based on the volume of work. These tribunals would be designed to take up first appeals against the orders of the concerned state government or their agencies. The above appellate board should not normally entertain an appeal against a departmental decision after the expiry of 30 days of the receipt of the order of the government decision, in respect of a service matter or other executive decision relating to the administration of the department’s work. The appellate board should be designed to dispose of the appeal normally within three months of lodging. This device should sharply increase focus on early settlement of executive disputes relating to service and other matters of school or college administration. Surely, an appeal will lie to the relevant higher courts. It is suggested that the above device should significantly help address the burden and cost of litigation involving the state education departments.
It may also be examined, whether at the Centre, an appropriate departmental tribunal may be created, presided over by a retired high court judge and comprising of two officers of the rank of ‘secretaries to the government’, retired or serving, to listen to first appeals against orders of the Central government or their agencies. This decision may be taken based on the volume of the pendency of departmental and service cases in CAT and in other fora. The above appellate board shall not entertain an appeal against a departmental decision after the expiry of 30 days of the receipt of the order of the government decision, in respect of any service matter or other executive decision relating to the administration of the department’s work. The appellate board should be designed to dispose of the appeal normally within three months of lodging. This device should sharply increase focus on early settlement of executive disputes relating to service matters, or school, or college administration. Surely, the appeal will lie to the relevant higher courts. It is suggested that the above device should significantly help address the burden and cost of litigation involving the MHRD. Additional regional tribunals could be set up as required, based on the volume of litigation from time to time.
The Committee notes the very heavy volume of litigation, mainly concerning service matters, but also relating to other administrative disputes, pending in the various wings of the MHRD, and related agencies of the Ministry. Depending on the volume and nature of service disputes covered by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), the Committee proposes establishment of Administrative Tribunals at the Centre and in the states, to be chaired by retired judges and with members drawn from academic and educational administrative sector; these tribunals should be statutorily the first point for hearing service disputes and other administrative matters, to give a finding within a specified schedule (say three months). Appeals will naturally lie to other courts; but this device should sharply decrease the volume of litigation involving the ministry, and consequent expenditure of time, energy and resources.
The Committee, similarly recommends, that the State Governments may appoint one or more such tribunals at the state headquarters and at other centres in the state, to deal with litigation concerning service matters, and other disputes, with a tight time schedule. It is proposed that these tribunals could be headed by a retired district or high court judge, comprising of two retired or serving ‘secretary level’ officers. While appealing against the orders of the tribunal will lie to the relevant courts, it is expected that mostly only matters relating to legal issues will be taken upon further appeals, leading to considerable savings in time, energy and resources.
Chapter 5.7 Public Expenditure on Education
The earlier NPEs of 1968 and 1986, as modified in 1992, had all recommended 6% of GDP as a norm for the national outlay on education. The 1968 NPE stated that “the aim should be, gradually to increase the investment in education so as to reach a level of expenditure of 6 percent of the national income as early as possible.” This target had been endorsed by the 1986 NPE. The modified 1992 NPE went further and stated that “the outlay on education will be stepped up to ensure that during the Eighth Five Year Plan (1992-1997) and onwards it will uniformly exceed six percent of the national income.”
Despite these exhortations, however, the expenditure on education has consistently remained well below this level. From 0.64% in 1951-52, the ratio climbed to 3.84% in 1990-91. It briefly breached the 4% threshold at the turn of the millennium but has thereafter reverted to a level of around 3.5% in recent years. Just for comparison, the corresponding level of expenditure in OECD countries is at an average of 5.3% of the GDP of those countries; indeed 11 OECD countries exceed 6%. Note, that these are highly developed countries, where income levels are high; the governments consider such expenditure as an investment in their people. In India’s current state of development, a minimum of 6% of GDP, if not at a much higher level, should be essential expenditure in the education sector.
As a percentage of the total government expenditure across all sectors (budgeted expenditure in the revenue account), expenditure of Centre and States/UTs governments on education has been hovering around 8% and 22.5% respectively over the past few years. While share of the expenditure on education by States and UTs as a percentage of their total budget on all sectors has been stagnating over the past few years (i.e. around 22.5%), expenditure on education by the Central Government as a percentage of its total budgeted expenditure on all sectors has been increasing marginally during this period [i.e. from 7.5% in 2011-12 (actual) to 8.6% in 2013-14 (budget estimates)] (Analysis of Budgeted Expenditure in Education, 2013-14).
All states together spent (revenue and capital) ₹3,75,291 crores in 2014-15; the Union Government spent ₹78,661 crores that year. It is to be noted, that over the past ten years the rate of spending of states has declined marginally; while the Central Government share has increased from 13% to 17% in the same period. Latest NUEPA estimates indicate that the highest growth in expenditure in past ten years is in elementary education, largely contributed by the expansion of RTE (also presumably due to sharply increased pay scales of teachers based on Finance Commission’s recommendations); on the other hand, the growth in expenditure on secondary education is much lower. In contrast, the allocation for adult education has started falling in recent years.
No clear basis is available to assess the quality of expenditure in education, as also to compare allocations between different regions in India. Using SSA as the proxy, latest NUEPA analysis points out that the Southern states have sharply increased their allocation of the total from 14% to 19%, while during the same time, the Eastern and Middle States lost their share from about 40% to 29%; the Northern states also lost their share from 40% to 36%. Again while numbers available are not fully reliable, research elsewhere indicates that there is a correlation between the expenditure share on education in each state to the quality and growth in education standards.
Due to financial transfer, recommended by 14th Finance Commission, the states would get 42% of the tax devolution in FY 2015-16 as against 32% in the previous period, translating into additional ₹3,93,912 crores available to states in 2015-16. It is not quite clear as to how this will translate into additional allocation to the education sector. With less budgetary resources with GOI, allocations to the education sector, in general, and school sector, in particular, may start coming down, in contrast to the experience of recent years – indeed, this is already reflected in the GOI budget of 2015-16. Besides, the funding pattern for most centrally sponsored schemes has been revised to 60/40, reducing the central share. It remains to be seen, if, in fact, the states’ share in education would go up or not, logically it should; only time will tell. Again, it has been argued that the 14th Finance Commission award may not indeed result in a higher allocation to the states. The key question remains as to what is going to happen to the issue of financing of school sector in totality from 2015-16 onwards – the issue is of critical importance.
The 6% norm is by no means excessive when set against the standards of other developing countries. While, Cuba devotes over 18% of its GDP to education, Malaysia, Kenya and even Malawi manage to cross the 6% benchmark (?size). The global weighted average of Government spending, as the percent of GDP, for all the countries in the world is 4.9%, substantially above that in India.
The Committee reiterates that 6% of GDP is the minimal level of expenditure on education which must be attained almost immediately if there is to be any realistic hope of meeting the needs of the sector.
Imperative need to maintain at least 6% expenditure of GDP on education
Policies in the past decades have visibly increased participation in education by all section of the population, as figures mentioned elsewhere, indicate. Both, in school education and in higher education, while the distribution of students from economically weaker strata has increased, the casualty has been in the quality of education. India’s strength is its human resource; this has to be nurtured – education is the simplest and surest way to ensure optimal utilisation of India’s demographic advantage.
A massive programme for skill development has been embarked by the government, noting that 65% of the population is under 35 years of age. The workforce, in the next decade, needs to be adequately educated/trained, for them to play a part in nation building. Indeed, if this is not attended to with great care today, the projected demographic ‘dividend’ may actually turn out to be a ‘disaster’ in the next decades. This Committee’s report recognises and stresses the urgent need to sharply increase quality in our education system, which includes skills training and vocational education, for which new innovative comprehensive programmes need to be rolled out without delay. It will be short-sighted indeed if this is not recognised today, as we will then be mortgaging our tomorrow by failure to act now.
It is also in the above spirit that the Committee has recommended full roll out of the ECCE, with its unavoidable implications for additional finances. The need for vocational/skill training will also require massive investments. The funds for these have to be found.
The Committee realises that additional allocations alone on education will not ensure quality – a number of collateral steps are essential, outlined by the Committee, elsewhere in the Report. However, the extreme focus on pre-primary and primary education has to be intensified; the secondary sector has been relatively neglected – it has to be provided for adequately. The conclusion is inescapable that a minimum of 6% of GDP needs to be devoted to the education sector (not including the separate needs of skills/vocational training.
The 1968 policy, as well as 1986 policy, rightly stressed the minimum 6% expenditure of GDP in education. Successive governments had not heeded to this call. Development of the human resource is a basic national infrastructure; there is perhaps the inadequate recognition that it is even more important than physical infrastructure.
Considering, the critical importance of focussing on the school sector, and equally to develop qualitatively and quantitatively the higher education sector, it is now imperative that funds should be found to meet the total needs of the school sector; the resources from the private sector need to be adequately marshalled for the needs of the higher education sector.
The approach to funding programmes in the child education sector must undergo a fundamental change. Programmes must be budgeted from the bottom up, instead of being pruned to fit top-down budgetary allocations, as is presently the case.
It is a truism, but nevertheless worth reiterating, that there can be no better investment than in the future of India’s children.
The Committee recommends that the outlay on education should be raised to a minimum level of 6% of GDP with immediate effect.
Additional funding needs to be found for meeting the needs of ECCE as recommended elsewhere in the report.
The separate needs for vocational/skills training, in large scale, are also imperative; additional financing, outside the 6% referred to would need to be found.
Need for Special Academic and Other Support to Children from Socially and Economically Weaker Sections
The Committee has recorded that over the years, accessibility to education in India has significantly improved. It is also largely true that the equity aspects have dramatically improved, particularly after RTE has come into being. There is now a general awareness of the constitutional/ statutory duty that every child should have a substantial period of formal education. While infrastructure deficiencies continue in the school sector and the dropout rates are also unconscionably high – aspects which have been highlighted in this report – the fact is that our school and higher education sectors are now open to segments of society which were not participating hitherto (as yet). Indeed, the main message of this report is to stress the need for up-gradation of the quality of education, in all its senses, across the board.
The field visits, as well as, the interaction, that the Committee members had with experts, officials, teachers and other stakeholders, have highlighted the need relating to one aspect which has not been sufficiently recognized or commented upon by observers and researchers, especially in respect of school sector, but also as it partially obtains in the higher education sector. Apart from the infrastructure and other systemic gaps in management and organisation that have been described in the report, there is perhaps inadequate articulation of one key element, relating to the process of ‘learning’, as it obtains in the Indian scene today.
The Committee has observed that with all the safeguards that the system provides to ensure equity and equality among all concerned, there is a significant element of handicap suffered by the economically weaker segments, as well as a substantial membership of the socially backwards communities relating to inequality in learning opportunity. The reference here, is not to the fact that expensive private schools are accessible to the relatively affluent, who also have access to private coaching options, to ensure, that they get the most of their educational opportunities; there are other certain sociological and circumstantial factors which have not been hitherto (as yet) sufficiently understood, or not commented upon. In three separate sets of circumstances, the Committee feels that these factors come into play. Some elements of these are mentioned below:
(i) It is well recognised that in the early childhood classes, particularly Class 2 to Class 4 the basic language and arithmetic skills are learned by the child, which becomes the core base to build on for their future education. Indeed, there has been a reference to the principle of ’90-90′ – which refers to the goal in every class that 90% of the students acquire mastery over 90% of what is being taught. This is the ideal but is rarely achieved. Indeed ASER, and other reports have commented on the very substantial percentage of students, even at class 8 level, unable to have mastery of the curriculum of say, class 4. This failure, in the early classes, will surely handicap a child throughout his educational career, indeed whole life. It is noticed that there is no inbuilt mechanism within the schooling process, or in the pedagogy, or the safety-net procedures to keep a watchful eye on laggards, to ensure that they are given a helping hand close the gap to reach the average level of the class. The Committee has elsewhere referred to ‘remedial measures’ or ‘augmentation’ systems – there is no additional focus that in general the children from economically weaker sections and socially disadvantaged groups need special care, attention, from all, who oversee the task of looking after the education of these children. In short, the first area where this principle of ‘special attention’ should apply relates to the earlier primary classes, to target the children from economically weaker segments and from socially disadvantaged classes.
(ii) The next stage where this syndrome, if one may categorise it as such, applies usually around the early periods of class 11, for those who clear the class 10 barrier, particularly those from rural schools. This is the period where education becomes highly intense, and the school authorities/teachers cannot pause to give special attention to those boys and girls, particularly from a rural background, who cannot cope up with the pace of the class. In this competitive atmosphere, most children who would tend to flounder, left to themselves, could immensely benefit from assistance to cover a difficult phase in their educational career. Anecdotal experience, as heard by Committee repeatedly refer to extra attention – a helping hand – rendered at this juncture, could be a boon to a large number of such children to tide over simple problems – relating to the academic subjects, language difficulty, adjustment and orientation issues – and make them feel comfortable with the pace of their courses and their studies. This is possibly one area where some remedial attention, to identified children could be of great use.
(iii) Finally, the Committee heard repeatedly, in the context of engineering and other technical courses, that the newcomers, particularly from rural schools, frequently find themselves unable to cope with the situation, partly for sociological reasons, and also from diffidence (lack of self-confidence) that they are unable to adjust to the urban environment and the college atmosphere. Experience has shown that at this critical period in their educational career, young men and women need a helping hand to tide over a difficult phase – cross their mental barrier, after which they effortlessly blend into the normal phase and rhythm of the course and curriculum. In particular, those from rural schools, who may have learnt their subjects in their mother tongue, frequently, find barriers in crossing the language bridge, and tuning themselves to the ‘college’ atmosphere – assistance to sort out their real or imagined issues at this juncture could pay dividends.
The Committee feels that those, who are in-charge, in implementation policy and systems, need to be aware of the special difficulties of certain classes of students at certain phases of their school/college careers; and with appropriately designed remedial/advisory/guidance/training facilities organised, the large unnecessary wastage that one now sees in the educational system could get mitigated to a considerable extent – allowing millions of youngsters to derive full value from their education, on which they have expended so much energy and resources.
The Committee wishes to highlight that there are critical stages in the ‘learning’ periods of children, where they need a special helping hand to guide them, with some extra training or coaching or advisory facility to enable them fully to use their educational opportunities. This observation relates, in general, to children from economically backwards segments, as also socially disadvantaged groups. While such periods for each child cannot be defined accurately, in general, many such children need assistance and help particularly in three stages during their educational career –
(a) in the period of primary schooling where it is important to learn the basics of ‘language’ and ‘arithmetic’;
(b) in early class 11 phase, where the courses become tougher, a system to help them feel at home in the extra competitive atmosphere of the class; and
(c) finally, in the early periods in technical courses, particularly with respect to rural youngsters who did their schooling in their mother tongue, to acclimatise them to the prevailing circumstances and conditions of urban learning centres.
The Committee recommends that a well thought out programme may be evolved, based on local resources, conditions and circumstances, to assist students in these critical periods. This would be in addition to the overall recommendations made by the Committee in this report to sharply upgrade the processes of learning, across the education system.
Continued…… Report Part 3