Improving quality education through community participation

Posted on:29-06-12

Ministries of education worldwide have promoted community engagement in education with the goal of ultimately improving learning. One  vehicle for such engagement has been school committees, generally including a combination of parents, teachers, school officials and community members. Read more »

Solutions to the Problem

Posted on:27-06-12

Yamini Aiyar, Director, Accountability Initiative 

As some of you may recall, the PAISA team spent the better part of last year collecting and analyzing data on fund flows in elementary education finances in the 9 PAISA districts. This effort culminated in the production of the PAISA district studies. The study highlights two major anomalies in the current financial system for education. One, and this is no surprise to anyone familiar with the nuts and bolts of India’s administration, fund flows and planning systems are riddled with process related bottlenecks. As a consequence, even basic things like pushing money through the system takes significantly longer than it ought to. Funds are transferred toward the end of the financial year and spent in a tearing hurry. The second finding points to a larger structural problem in the planning and budgeting system for elementary education. Our findings highlight that the current system is extremely centralized (a trend that is likely to get further entrenched as more and more money for elementary education gets routed through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan).  So deep is the tendency to centralize that even school grants, that are meant to be discretionary grants spent on needs identified by school headmasters, are in fact spent based on formal and informal instructions provided by the district administration. Read more »

Empowering School Management Committees- Helping SMC members plan better

Posted on:11-06-12

Laina Emmanuel, Accountability Initiative

Parental involvement in children’s education is largely believed to lead to improved learning outcomes. The level of involvement can vary from providing a secure home for children, maintaining a healthy parent-teacher communication, volunteering to involving parents in the governance of the school[1]. The effect of each type of parental involvement on learning outcomes also varies, though research largely points towards beneficial effects. Read more »

Mis-Management or Missing Management

Posted on:04-06-12

Avani Kapur, Accountability Initiative

Over the last few years, India’s elementary education landscape has witnessed a lot of change. On the one hand, there has been a substantial increase in financial allocations. For instance, allocations for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) – the programmatic vehicle for elementary education have increased from Rs 15,000 crores in 2010-11 to Rs 25,555 crores in 2012-13. This represents an increase of 70 percent in 3 years. At the same time, with the passing of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) in April 2010, states now have an increased responsibility towards the beneficiaries. Central and state govern Read more »ments can now be held accountable for failure of delivery.

The Politics of Money: A look into the Finance Ministry’s crusade against Black Money

Posted on:28-05-12

Aishwarya Panicker, Accountability Initiative

The recently released ‘White Paper on Black Money’ by the Ministry of Finance was presented at the Lok Sabha on the 21st of May 2012.  Having taken some time to read through the rather lengthy document, it seemed fitting for a few words to be written about the report. Read more »

The Case of the Exploding Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS)

Posted on:21-05-12

Gayatri Sahgal, Accountability Initiative

In last week’s blog on the Rangarajan Committee Report, Anirvan outlined the process of fund flows in Centrally Sponsored Schemes (for more details see here). Piqued and interested in exploring the topic of Centrally Sponsored Schemes, I decided to do some digging of my own. In the process of my investigation, I came across an interesting report recently published by a committee appointed by the Planning Commission on ‘Restructuring of Centrally Sponsored Schemes’ (details of the report can be found here). Read more »

What Does ‘Quality Education Study’ Show?

Posted on:17-05-12

Ambrish Dongre, Accountability Initiative

Recently, I attended the release of an interesting report, ‘Quality Education Study’, put together by Educational Initiatives and Wipro-Applying Thoughts to Schools. The study tries to assess learning levels of students in Standards 4, 6 and 8 by developing specific tests for English, Maths, Science and Social Studies. As mentioned in the report, ‘the questions were not based simply on the ability to recall information or use formulae or procedures…but also attempted to evaluate if the students have understood and internalized the concepts(1).  Some questions were also included to study student attitudes toward gender equality, diversity and sensitivity toward others, civic/ citizenship issues, ecological issues, values and interpersonal skills.  Read more »

The story behind PAISA: Notes from the Field

Posted on:14-05-12

Venugopal Kalokota, Poonam Chaudhary, Swapna Ramtake, Dinesh Kumar, and Ram Ratan Jat(1)

During the course of the PAISA survey our field level researchers gained some interesting insights regarding the ground level implementation of SSA. Their findings, trace different elements of the implementation story and include an analysis of the pattern of SSA fund flows, the status of school outputs and the level of SMC functioning.  Here are some highlights from the field. Read more »

FAQs on Fund Transfer (Part I) – The Treasury Mode

Posted on:11-05-12

Anirvan Chowdhury, Accountability Initiative

The Report of the High-Level Expert Committee on Efficient Management of Public Expenditure chaired by Dr. C. Rangarajan (and better known as the Rangarajan Committee Report) was tabled in Parliament in July 2011 and I had been waiting for it to be publicly available since then. The Report finally found its way to the internet (this is the link). To those concerned about the “High Level” and “Expert” adjectives, the Report does not disappoint. I had earlier blogged on why the committee was mulling over merging plan and non-plan expenditure. This time I summarise the Rangarajan Committee’s take on fund flows in centrally sponsored schemes (CSS). Read more »

Empowering schools and school management committees (SMCs): Unpacking decision-making in India’s schools.

Posted on:07-05-12

Gayatri Sahgal, Accountability Initiative

Since the early 1990’s School Based Management (SBM) has gained increasing popularity as a strategy for improving responsiveness and accountability in the delivery of education services. As a form of decentralization, the SBM approach involves the transfer of decision making authority over school operations to local agents (2). One of the principle function’s which is delegated to local agents is the responsibility for managing the school’s finances. In several countries, including Brazil, Nepal, Mexico, and Czech Republic, authority is devolved to school based committees who are given varying levels of financial autonomy for 1) determining school needs, 2) preparing budgets and plans, and 3) procuring items and incurring expenditure for meeting such needs (3).  Read more »