Laina Emmanuel, Accountability Initiative
The PAISA project since its inception in 2009, has been tracking the flow of funds of social sector schemes as well as studying the decision-making mechanisms involved in their implementation. From the very beginning, we were clear that our research should not be an entity by itself, where we simply collect data for the sake of research. Rather, we were interested in trying to understand how data can be used to enable and empower communities and individuals. Thus, our concerted focus (or rather, comprehension) has not been on the data itself, but rather how to use data and associated technologies in evolving communities. Read more »
Vibhu Tewary, Accountability Initiative
In my previous blog post (which can be found here) I made the argument that a community which is directly contributing to the school’s functioning, in some way or the other, would be more likely to hold School Monitoring Committees (henceforth SMCs) accountable. This would lead to better functioning SMCs, and therefore better overall school planning, in terms of utilization of funds, and school performance, in terms of teacher and student attendance and total enrolments. To analyse if such a relationship exists, we would need data on SMCs functioning and community participation. In the PAISA survey conducted in 2011, we had collected data on community contribution and how often the SMCs meet (among many other things). Using the frequency of SMC meetings as a proxy for its functioning, I carried out some basic data analysis with the two variables. Read more »
Mehjabeen Jagmag, Accountability Initiative
I am following up from Ambrish’s blog that suggests involving parents in monitoring the Mid Day Meals (MDM) Scheme in India, via the relatively new Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) launched in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Having participated in the same survey, I too came across instances where meals had not been served in schools for weeks, sometimes months. Reasons ranged from grains going bad due to inadequate storage containers, lack of cooking vessels as they had been stolen from the school premises, to insufficient receipt of grants required to convert grains to meals. Sporadic monitoring through MDM registers will not be able to record these discrepancies, but if data is recorded every day, amends can be made in time. Read more »
Ambrish Dongre, Accountability Initiative
For the last couple of months, majority of us at AI, including me, were busy with a survey of around 450 government schools spread across 4 districts in 2 states. The objective of the survey was to track the flow of food grain and flow of funds to schools under the Cooked Mid Day Meal (CMDM) scheme. The fieldwork is now complete, and the survey sheets are in the process of being readied for data entry. Read more »
Avantika Ranjan, Accountability Initiaitive
Numerous schemes on education are rolled out with much fan-fare, with the most well-known being the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(SSA), and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE) which aim to universalise elementary education in India. Numerous reports however highlight that child labour is still rampant in India.1 Here, I am going to highlight how sometimes certain actions taken by the state in the child’s “best” interest can become counter-productive. Read more »
Aishwarya Panicker, Accountability Initiative
In the few months that I have been assessing the relationship between government and businesses, several grey areas have emerged that have often left me wondering, wandering, and wanting, to dig deeper. Information is power, it is said. Information, however, presents a deep paradox. In one sense, it empowers people to demand their rights, to access the services promised by the state and to hold their elected leaders accountable for any mishaps in service delivery. On the other hand, for some, information may lead to more vulnerability and greater insecurity. The intensity and the degree with which horrific incidents against civil society members and even prominent government officials (for knowing too much and for taking action against those in power) have increased is mindboggling. If you have been following the news in the last few weeks, you may have read of at least one such incident (At the end of this post, you will find a list of some not-so-well known incidents that have been captured by the media). A central theme that runs through these incidents is the occurrence of inept or in most cases, refusal of action (a report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights captures this theme). Read more »
Shailey Tucker, Accountability Initiative
Over the past few months, observations during several field-visits to our PAISA states have led me to consider more deeply the quality of governance in our education system. At the school-level, we found problems of pervasive teacher absence and lack of motivation, with teachers not only being called away on other official duties or taking casual leaves, but teachers also busy with other non-teaching jobs, such as running their own hotels or holding their own private tuitions (to cite but two examples). Another major reason for teacher absence observed was inaccessibility, especially during the monsoon – lack of all-weather roads in a number of backward, remote areas rendered many schools shut as teachers didn’t show up. At the block-level, we’ve met officials who feel as if they are being bypassed or overlooked, as principals and the district administrations oftentimes interact directly. Community participation and management, long recognised as a mechanism to enhance the quality of education, was negligible in the majority of schools I’ve visited. At the same time, however, I also came across schools where the confidence and performance of students was a joy to see; where teachers made optimal use of constrained resources; and, of their own initiative, ensured regular involvement of parents and the community at large. Such schools were unfortunately few and far in between. This throws up the question, how best can we create a well-governed education delivery system that facilitates an enabling environment for teachers and administration officials alike - motivating them, holding them accountable for their actions (or rather, inaction), and ensuring that the interests of all stakeholders are aligned? Read more »
Uthara Ganesh, Accountability Initiative
Government Spending in the Social Sector has been increasing over the years. In the financial year 2012-13, the government has spent Rs 25,555 crores on its flagship education programme, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (1), Rs 33,000 crore on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (2), and Rs 20,855 crores on the National Rural Health Mission (Read more »ion_2012-13.pd">3).
Avani Kapur, Accountability Initiative
If you have ever visited a government office, you would have been astounded (like I was) to see numerous files stacked in dingy offices, gathering dust. Yet, there often appeared to be a method to the madness and if you requested for a file, it was easily pulled out.
Despite this, in recent years there seems to be growing number of cases where records go “missing”.
I first became aware of this “strange” phenomenon when we started working on the PAISA Project. As you all must be aware by now, through the PAISA Project we analyse government documents at different levels (Government of India (GOI), state and district) and complement that with school-level surveys in order to ascertain the following: How do funds flow through the system? Is money utilised? When is it utilised and how are funds spent? Read more »
Laina Emmanuel, Accountability Initiative
I am here in a district with two colleagues conducting a PAISA survey of the Mid-Day Meal scheme. The survey is long (28 pages long, to be precise) and we are looking at a number of variables regarding MDM funds, such as when do schools receive their funds, when do they spend it and how much do they spend.
If you thought designing a questionnaire (aka tool in this part of the world) for a survey is the difficult part, then you need to see the effort that goes into training. Volunteers, with usually no background in accounting, have to be taught to read passbooks, stock registers and utilization certificates, no mean feat! Read more »