Some of the ideas that CCS has been advocating for education in the Budget 2009:

  1. Reward states that put schools under local control: The seventy-third and seventy-fourth Constitutional Amendments require Panchayati Raj and Local Administrative Bodies, the third-tier of administration in villages and urban areas, to manage local schools. However, much of the administrative controls over schools still rest with state governments. Give generous financial incentives to states that devolve school education functions, finances, and functionaries to local governments or attach part of the SSA contribution to the effective devolution.
  2. Bring the focus on quality of education through a new National Institute of Learning Assessment: There needs to be a regular assessment of learning achievements of students across the country. An autonomous organization (‘National Institute of Learning Assessment’) could be established (corpus of Rs 100 crore) with the sole purpose of continuous determination of learning levels of students, beginning with government and government recognized schools but later including all schools in the country. It can also coordinate India’s participation in similar international assessment efforts.
  3. Mission Mode for Minority and SC/ST Girls: In the 25 most Educationally Backward Districts of the country (as per the Education Development Index), implement a conditional cash transfer scheme for all minority and SC/ ST girls to pursue education after 8th standard. A generous scholarship of Rs 12,000 per annum for classes 9 and 10 and of Rs 15,000 for classes 11 and 12 would enable them to access, if necessary, boarding schools outside the village and provide strong monetary incentive to parents to keep them in school.
  4. Expand all existing scholarship schemes by five times: Several pre-metric, post-metric and post-graduation scholarships are already set up under different ministries (education, social welfare, minority affairs), expand them at least by five times! This expansion must be accompanied by a separate budget for generating awareness about these schemes across the country. The recent National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship scheme had allowance for 100,000 scholarships but only 33,000 students benefited in 2008-09. Give separate funding of about 10% of the scheme budget for ‘awareness campaigns’ and ‘enrollment drives.’
  5. Grant education an ‘industry status’: The Minister may start by granting ‘industry status’ to vocational training, non-formal/non-school education like e-learning, and higher education. This would bring in massive capital, technology and more importantly high quality management to a large part of our education landscape.
  6. Innovations in Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA): The success of the new Abhiyan lies in out-of-the-box thinking and innovations than what has been done under the SSA. One reform that can revolutionalise the whole of post-elementary education is to select the top 25 urban centers in the country and convert state funding to government as well as government-aided schools to a per-student funding. Then allow the students graduating from class 8 from these schools to choose the school they want to attend and let the funding follow the student. This choice and competition would dramatically improve the performance of teachers and the quality of school management.
Post Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.