Important note circulated by
National Knowledge Commission
before its meeting on 10 dec., 2007 in Delhi
National Knowledge Commission
before its meeting on 10 dec., 2007 in Delhi
Summary based on NKC consultations on School Education
- very rigid norms on unit costs and what is allowed in terms of spending, that do not recognise the diverse requirements of different states or particular regions;
- inadequate provisions for infrastructure such as buildings etc, especially for some states and cities, which leads to the creation of poor quality infrastructure;
- an inflexible accounting system that does not allow transferring funds across heads to meet particular or changing requirements, and therefore inhibits full utilisation and also prevents synergies from developing;
- insufficient allocation for repair and maintenance of infrastructure;
- treating rural and urban schools in the same manner even though the requirements are often very different (for example, urban government schools may require different infrastructure and facilities in order to attract students);
- treating all districts and geographical areas in the same manner regardless of the degree of backwardness, topographical conditions, etc. (This is especially a problem for schools in hilly or heavily forested areas or those with poor physical connectivity, for which per capita allocations are the same as for other more accessible areas);
- problems in the timing of fund transfer, as well as uncertainties in fund provision created by the insistence on matching funds and the fact that plan ceilings keep changing every year.
- Ensure greater funds for the NLM.
- Encourage the NLM to shift to creating Continuing Education Centres in both rural and urban areas that impart functional literacy that is of relevance and interest to those who are currently illiterate.
- Orient the post-literacy and continuing education programmes to the emotional, physical and psychological needs of adults rather than children, incorporating issues regarding citizens’ rights, human rights, sex education, health and livelihood;
- Use a variety of methods to ensure functional literacy, which combine more centralised schemes based on ICT and other new technology with continuous work at the local level based on a clear institutional structure. While new technologies such as ICT provide important new methods for imparting literacy in a short time, they necessarily have a limited role. They cannot be seen as stand-alone quick-fix solutions, but must be combined with other methods.
- Move to a sustainable system of literacy generation that does not rely on underpaid “volunteer” labour alone, which therefore involves budgetary provision for better remuneration for literacy workers.
- Create synergies between NLM and the proposed Skill Development Mission, while taking local needs and field requirements into account. For example, in some primarily agrarian economies, undue emphasis on industrial skills in ITIs may be incongruous horticultural and animal husbandry skills may be more relevant.
- The process of data collection must be streamlined, made less time consuming and more relevant.
- A comprehensive mapping of schools and school children, so as to have accurate information on which children in which localities are enrolled, and attending which schools. This would also map out localities where there are high rates of dropout and/or non- enrolment.
- A tracking mechanism for all school children should be set up, to track their individual school going status, and progress in school. This would reduce problems such as no government schools available for particular localities or girls. A tracking mechanism will also facilitate checking for drop-outs and related problems, and allow for speedy interventions.
- Data collected for the purposes of planning must provide all the relevant information – for example, the number of rooms should also mention whether these are electrified; where availability of toilets is described, there should also be information on the availability of water in the toilets.
- Safeguards must be instituted against "creative readjustment" of data, which is a common problem given the structure of incentives and the fact that the data are most often provided by the teachers or school management.
- ICT must be integrated for data collation and management, wherever required. A local area network with digital entry provisions could be set up to make it easier for the teachers.
- The data thus collected must be freely available and easily accessible, provided on dedicated websites in addition to the usual means of publication.
- More specialized micro-level surveys and research should be commissioned. There should also be attempts to bring together other relevant research for easy access by practitioners.
- The number of inspectors needs to be increased in many states, and they must be provided the facilities to undertake their activities properly, such as transport, communications devices, etc.
- The monitoring and inspection of schools must be separated from school administration, as the two functions require completely different orientations.
- Local stakeholders should be involved in the monitoring of schools, whether in the form of Village Education Committees, parent associations, or other such bodies.
- The criteria for inspection should also include minimum standards for quality.
- The inspectors themselves must be accountable in some way to the stakeholders of the area.
- Institutions providing pre-service teacher training and granting B.Ed degrees should be subject to the same higher education regulatory authority, and there should be adequate monitoring of the training provided by private organisations.
- The budgetary allocation for teacher training needs to be enhanced and made explicit, and central government provisions are required for this.
- State-level teacher training needs to be revamped in most states. The system of DIETs needs to be restructured. In some smaller states, there is a strong case for one state-level institution for teacher training. In other states, the DIETs need to be strengthened and undergo structural changes. The faculty of SCERTs, SIEs and DIETs must be expanded, and include experienced school teachers. The use of contract teachers must be kept to a minimum. In addition, the link between university departments and school teaching needs to be strengthened.
- The administrative hierarchies within DIET and SCERT have to be restructured, so that there is a clear separation of personnel engaged in administrative and academic activities. (This distinction is currently blurred in most states.)
- The teacher training course should not be seen in terms of a finite period of time, but as a process by which the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom can be regularly improved. Therefore there should be a mechanism for feedback and subsequent interaction between teachers and the training institutes, especially for pedagogical techniques that are new or require more continuous innovation from the teacher.
- In service teaching courses need to be incentivised, possibly by making attendance at and completion of such courses pre-requisites to professional advancement.
- There is need for curricular reform in both pre-service and in-service teacher training. The curriculum should be framed in ways that are directly relevant to teachers and the requirements of particular classroom situations, such as multi grade teaching, special needs of first-generation learners, etc. This means that curricula should be framed with greater inputs from teachers themselves, and their practical requirements in the classroom.
- ICT must be incorporated more fully into teacher training programs, which in turn leads to ICT being used more freely in the classroom.
- Financial norms for schools in such locations must be different from those in more accessible areas, as they will require additional resource allocation based on particular conditions.
- Special incentives, including a financial incentive (such as a “hardship bonus”) need to be provided for teachers to take up jobs in such areas. Two different models may be considered – one based on recruiting local teachers on a permanent basis for a job in a particular school without transfer; and another based on a transfer policy that divides locations into hard/middle/easy categories and allows teachers to rotate among them at specified intervals. Ideally, there should be at least one local teacher and one non-local teacher to ensure some variation, local acceptability and quality.
- Residential arrangements must be made for teachers in such locations, by providing quarters next to or near the school. The cost of building such quarters should be factored into the costs of the school building.
- There are some geographical zones especially in mountainous regions, that are plagued by unique problems due to vast tracts of land, difficult topography, and a sparse and nomadic population. In such areas, well equipped residential schools should be set up instead of insisting on a school in every habitation. These schools must be equipped to look into the needs of very young children living away from their families.
- Special incentives for girls in secondary education where these are required (they are not required everywhere), in addition to free textbooks and uniforms, such as bicycles.
- Girls-only schools especially in particular areas.
- An enhanced scholarship scheme especially for girls, with particular emphasis on girls from socially deprived groups.
- The need for separate and functional toilets for girls in all schools, with access to water, is very important, especially but not exclusively in urban areas.
1 There is even a significant share of households which do not have any literate member. According to the NSSO, in 2004-05, in rural India 26 per cent of urban households had no literate member above the age of 15 years, and 60 per cent had no literate female member above 15 years. The corresponding figures for urban areas were 8.4 per cent and 19.5 per cent.