Essay, Uncategorized

Technology In Education: Are We Addressing The Real Problems?

Imagine two villages separated by a lake. The only way anyone can get from one village to the other is by swimming across the lake. How do you make travel easier? You could start a boat service or you could build a simple wooden bridge. You could even build a concrete bridge so that vehicles can ply easily between the villages, encouraging more trade in the process. Even better, how about an ornamental, architecturally splendid bridge? Why not? It could bring in some tourism revenue for both the villages in addition to making transport more efficient (if you set aside the question of short-term cost-benefit).

Here is the point: every solution offered was a response to a fundamental problem. In fact, the term solution itself is inappropriate in this context as it denotes the closure of a problem. We respond to problems, but we do not necessarily solve them once and for all.

Yes, technology can help address the problem of engagement — but with the caveat that it should be used in the right measure by an involved teacher.

Now, imagine someone trying to install a fixed size bridge between multiple villages regardless of whether they are separated by wide lakes or narrow rivulets. Such an act is neither a response nor a solution.

The use of technology in education is somewhat like the use of bridges in these scenarios. It could be an effective response to some fundamental problems or it could be just an object that can be placed anywhere without any tangible benefit.

So, what are some of the problems plaguing our education system? To begin with, most schools run by the government (except Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas) have almost been reduced to “low income” institutions. With the near absence of children from middle- and upper-income groups, there is hardly any parental or community pressure on these schools to perform. With the weakening of the public education system, we see schools being divided across economic hierarchies — from international schools for the very rich to government schools and budget private schools for the poor.

In a study, Jean Drèze and Mamta Murthi found that states with higher literacy among girls had lower fertility rates. This is a forceful reminder of the direct impact of female literacy on the economy of our states. In fact, research studies on the social benefits of education mostly confirm what we intuitively know — that education can not only bring about economic improvements in people’s lives but also improve their awareness about health, civic responsibilities and social rights. There is no doubt that educational inequity hurts our economy. But how do we respond to this problem?

“Technology can amplify great teaching but it seems technology cannot replace poor teaching,” says Andreas Schleicher.

Before jumping to conclusions, it might be wise to pay close attention to what Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, says. He claims that technology seems of little help in bridging the skills divide between advantaged and disadvantaged students. And that, according to him, is the most disappointing finding in the latest OECD report on the use of technology in education. He couldn’t have put it better when he says, “Technology can amplify great teaching but it seems technology cannot replace poor teaching.”

That brings us to the question on pedagogical practices, both in government-run and private schools. Are our practices in sync with the way children interact with the world outside? Are we able to engage our students and kindle in them some passion for the subjects we deal with in classrooms? Can technology enhance engagement and make learning more interactive? Animations, simulations, and virtual laboratories are all fairly stimulating ways to engage students, so, yes, technology can help address the problem of engagement — but with the caveat that it should be used in the right measure by an involved teacher. That is to say, a teacher who not only guides learners to discover the concept she is dealing with but also demands that students think about it, question it and articulate what they make of it.

We need more intensive student-teacher interactions, multiple learning experiences and a genuine research orientation — not standardization, conformity and an over-reliance on textbooks.

Let us examine an education methodology where students are expected to make use of the internet for research: school projects. If you consider many of the projects that students turn in, it is quite likely that you will encounter plenty of instances of copy-paste from the internet, especially Wikipedia. Access to digital media is one thing, but enabling research skills is something far more complex and difficult to do. So, if traditional pedagogy as practiced in many schools in India encouraged rote learning (which is equivalent to copy-pasting from textbooks, teacher notes and guides to one’s memory), digital copy-pasting for projects is no different. In fact, it is even worse because the act of physical copy-pasting does not involve one’s mental faculties as much as in mental copy-pasting.

Education technology should be guided by pedagogical considerations, learning sciences and the phenomenon of social learning in school contexts. Blending technology with chalk and talk is not the answer. Active economic and social agents of tomorrow (even today) require deep conceptual understanding, critical thinking skills and the ability to innovate. For this, we need more intensive student-teacher interactions, multiple learning experiences, and a genuine research orientation — not standardization, conformity and an over-reliance on textbooks. If intellectual interactions in the outside world cannot progress without technology anymore, you cannot keep technology away from schools either. The question of how is still open.

Essay, Uncategorized

India Created Its Own Education Crisis, But There’s Hope Yet

The recent report tabled in Parliament that more than 100,000 schools in India have just one teacher is an alarming wake-up call for the government and all stakeholders. However, it also offers a genuine opportunity to transform India’s archaic education landscape now that a new policy is under discussion.

Four significant challenges confront the education system: a rapidly globalizing environment driven largely by the internet revolution; a serious supply-demand constraint both in terms of larger numbers of potential students and a sharp decline in the availability of teachers; the emergence of changing technologies; and an evolving marketplace that is constantly placing new demands. The government is tasked not only with the right to education of its citizens but, more importantly, the right to quality education. To navigate this terrain requires a dramatic shift in mindsets and the introduction of substantive policy interventions that are innovative, disruptive and immediate.

Unless the population is employable, the demographic dividend can rapidly degenerate into a demographic liability.

For around a decade, Indians celebrated the fact that we are a young nation. As per current statistics, around 600 million Indians are under 25 years of age. At a time when countries like China, Japan, Australia, Germany and many others are facing the uncertainty that accompanies a rapidly aging population, India seemed to hold the key as the growth driver through its increasing reservoir of a young population. We call this the demographic dividend.

But age alone cannot be the sole criteria for India to emerge as the global talent pool. Indeed, unless the population is employable, the demographic dividend can rapidly degenerate into a demographic liability. This requires that the quality of education is as important as the availability of education opportunities.

Faulty DNA

India’s education system is facing a real crisis, which is entirely of our own making. Furthermore, the crisis is so severe that only transformational overhauling would address the fundamental structural and systemic constraints it faces.

Clayton Christensen, known for his seminal work in education, argues that innovative educational institutions are those which change the very DNA of education from inside out. This shift in mindset primarily requires that education is perceived as a critical respondent to market needs and requirements and thus, of productive employment.

In the prevailing situation in India, education delivery is essentially mechanical, where an overworked and overstretched system delivers an antiquated product to a customer who is denied the right of choice. This needs to be replaced by one that is dynamic and constantly evolving and furthermore, specifically created to cater to the needs and requirements of the customer. It is only when the why of education policy is understood that the how (or strategy) will follow. Such a fundamental shift requires clarity on what education is meant to achieve.

It is only when the why of education policy is understood that the how will follow. This requires clarity on what education is meant to achieve.

The student needs to become the starting point because, at the end of the schooling period, s/he will do a job that is yet to be created. This would redefine the role of education because never before in human history have new technologies, changing market needs, rapid globalization and consumer aspirations so continuously and dramatically impacted the external landscape — both in our social and work spheres.

Fixing the demand and supply problem

To create the right environment for change, the significant supply constraint, and the huge pressure it imposes on infrastructure needs to be addressed. This is a three-fold constraint. First, even if India were to succeed in its target of 30% gross enrollment rate by 2020 in the tertiary sector, 100 million qualified students would still not have places at university and thereby, would be forced to join programmes that they would not have otherwise opted for. The second supply constraint is with regard to the acute paucity of qualified teachers. Furthermore, the problem is not restricted to higher education but begins from the primary and secondary schooling stage. This combination creates the dramatic crisis where the infrastructure itself collapses.

Today, an indecent disparity characterizes the difference between government-run schools in rural India and in urban tier-2 cities in comparison to their rapidly mushrooming private counterparts. The majority of the first category of schools operate under abysmal conditions with a lack in basic educational amenities. Students don’t have books or writing equipment, teachers are underpaid and unqualified, classrooms are overcrowded because of the lack of infrastructure and teachers, administration is distinctly absent and consequently, the quality of education suffers. More importantly, the quality of students suffers. This is visible even in many private schools, which charge exorbitantly higher fees but face no pressure to provide better education and operate, consequently, to profit from the supply-demand mismatch.

By preventing outside players and platforms from entering the arena, the situation is perpetuated domestically and vested interests create their own dynamics.

To address this requires a radical shift in our approach towards alternate delivery platforms. This can be achieved first through improving the functioning of our existing educational institutions, second through improvements in infrastructure and the embrace of technology and third, through a rapid increase in the number of education providers. In short, an inside-out transformation.

Improving the functioning of our educational institutions requires that the approach towards education and, consequently, its management is comprehensively recast. Without embedding efficiencies in it functioning, there would be no incentive to improve, as is currently the case. How many of our teachers, for instance, go through regular training programmes that enable them to keep up-to-date with the latest literature or teaching techniques? Choice and competition lie at the heart of improved performance.

Looking within, and without

By preventing outside players and platforms from entering the arena, the situation is perpetuated domestically and vested interests create their own dynamics. A rapid increase in the footprint of the delivery platforms by opening up to new partners — especially world-class international providers and the embrace of technology, through online and MOOCs platforms, including virtual learning — would dramatically transform the education landscape and immediately impact the supply constraint.

None of this would be particularly appealing to the existing players. Indeed, as was the case in the 90s, when India decided to embark on economic reforms, there will be predictable resistance from domestic constituencies, who would see it as a threat to their business survival.

Substantially increased budgetary allocations and utilization are inescapable. Radical and disruptive intervention in education is the call of the hour. At the same time, it needs to be recognized that the inside-out transformation is not a sequential one but one where a series of interventions are simultaneously and strategically introduced into the system to address the crisis. While the lack of infrastructure is undoubtedly a major systemic flaw, the lack of quality teachers is equally alarming. By 2020, India will require one million new teachers. But creating quality teachers cannot be achieved overnight. Technology is the enabler to leapfrog this immediate constraint. Indeed, technology-driven education would act as a multiplier in multiple sectors, which would add to India’s growth story.

History would be unforgiving if the government does not see this significant challenge as an extraordinary opportunity to change education’s DNA.

By 2020, it is also estimated that India would require 1000 new universities to cater to the galloping demand. China faced a similar situation. Anticipating the significant challenge, the government opted for a massive programme to fund overseas education for its nationals and thereby, short-circuited the creation of new educational institutions. This has proved to be a far more efficient response financially and administratively than the expected process of constructing new universities. In addition, the experience of studying abroad enabled the Chinese to think globally. This has proved to be a game changer.

It is this kind of thinking outside the box that will address the crisis that confronts India in the education sector. This is not an either-or situation — nothing ever is — but one where every available resource is channeled into combating the crisis that has the potential of adversely impacting India’s aspirational surge. It also requires acknowledging the urgency that confronts us. History would be unforgiving if the government does not see this significant challenge as an extraordinary opportunity to change education’s DNA. As is often foretold, the future can hold promise only when we dare to seize it.

Editorials, Essay, GS-2, Uncategorized

Draft National Education Policy


The National Education Policy 2016 envisages creation of a credible education system capable of ensuring

  •       Inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all
  •       Producing students/graduates equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitude and values that are required to lead a productive life
  •       Participate in the country’s development process
  •       Respond to the ever changing requirements of a globalizing, knowledge based society
  •       Develop responsible citizens who respect the Indian tradition of acceptance of diversity of India’s heritage, culture and history as well as promote social cohesion and religious amity
  •       The vision recognizes the central role of education in India’s economic, social, political and cultural development

Key Challenges in India’s education system

I.  Access and Participation

  1.    Research highlights the importance of early childhood education. Participation in pre-school education remains low in the country
  2.    Expanding access to early childhood education and provide equal opportunity to all children to prepare them for formal education is a priority task
  3.    While nationally the % of out of school children aged 6-13 years has declined since 2000, still the absolute number remains high
  4.    Currently there is a situation of relatively lower enrolment rates in upper primary and secondary education. Ensuring mobility of students from elementary to primary to secondary to tertiary education is a key challenge. Currently Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education is 23.6%. The target is to increase it to 25.2% in 2017-18 and to 30% in 2020-21
  5.    Relatively slower progress in reducing the number of illiterates is also a huge challenge. India currently has the highest number of non literates in the world

II.   Quality Issues

1) Poor quality of education leading to unsatisfactory learning outcomes is a huge challenge. At the pre school level the following challenges are there

  •   Inappropriate curriculum
  •  Lack of trained educators
  •  Ineffective pedagogy

Resultantly students coming out of pre schools do not have school readiness in terms of cognitive and language domains

2)  Biggest challenge remains the unsatisfactory level of student learning. ASER reports, PISA reports all point towards the same. Finding of National Achievement Surveys covering Grades 3, 5, 8 and 10 suggest that learning levels of a significant proportion of students do not measure up to expected learning levels which has a cascading effect on the next stage

3) Factors affecting unsatisfactory quality of school education are

  •   Large proportion of schools not compliant with prescribed norms and standards
  •    Students and teachers absenteeism
  •  Gaps in teacher motivation and training which affects teacher quality and performance
  •  Slow progress with regards to usage of ICT
  •  Sub optimal personnel management
  • Inadequate attention to monitoring and supervision of performance

Perceived failure of government schools has triggered entry of a large number of private schools, many of whom also fall prey to the same vices

4) Quality at higher education level – Issues are

  •   Very few universities and colleges accredited by NAAC are in A grade
  •  Mushrooming of private players of indifferent quality
  •   Shortage of well qualified faculty
  • Vacancy in faculty positions
  •  Poor infrastructure in both private as well as public institutions
  • Slow renewal of curriculum to align it more closely with skills demanded in a diversified economy
  • Inadequate funding for research and development

III   Equity

  1.    Whereas substantial improvement is seen in enhancing enrolment rate in pre-school, still, children from disadvantaged population still lack access to pre school education
  2.    Percentage of Out of school children (OOSC) has declined since 2000, but the absolute number is still high. Moreover, OOSC still very high among SC, ST and Muslims
  3.    Children from certain sections like children with disabilities, children in remote location, children belonging to nomadic families, migrant children and other vulnerable disadvantaged group are yet to take full benefit of educational opportunities
  4.    National Learning Achievement Surveys highlight the following
  • Urban students do better than rural
  •  Students of private schools do better than those in government schools
  •   General and OBC students do better than SC and ST students

5. Relatively higher gender gap in youth (8.2 % points) and adult (19.5 percentage points) literacy rates


IV  Skills and employability

  1.    India is a young nation with 54% of population below 25 years of age. Thus skilling is necessary to take care of livelihood needs
  2.    However institutional arrangements to support technical and vocational educational programme quite inadequate

V  Curriculum and Assessment

  1.    Growing disconnect between existing school and higher education curricula
  2.    Curriculum thrust needed for promoting acquisition of relevant skills by students is missing
  3.    Assessment criteria in schools focus primarily on rote learning and ability of students to reproduce content knowledge

VI   ICT potential not fully tapped by educational institutes in the country

VII   Teacher development and management

  1.    Not equipping teachers with competencies required to cope up with new profile and roles expected of teachers
  2.    Mismatch between institutional capacity and required teacher supply resulting in shortage of teachers. Problem more acute in Eastern part of the country
  3.    Research, innovation and experimentation in teacher education is very limited

VIII   Governance and Management

  1.    It has assumed complexity especially at tertiary level due to
  •  Advent of multiplicity of providers
  •  Multiplicity of programmes
  •  Multiplicity in modes of financing

IX   Research and Development – Following are the reasons for India’s poor performance in R&D

  1.    Limited initiative for upgrading skills of existing faculty
  2.    Lack of synergies between training and research to promote excellence in both
  3.    Lack of engagement with institutes around the globe to improve quality of research
  4.    Lack of creation and facilitation of alliances for research purpose
  5.    Lack of linkage between research institutions and industry to accelerate process of knowledge development

X   Budgetary Constraints

  1.    Target of 6% of GDP envisaged in National Education Policy 1986 yet to be met

Reforms Suggested

1) Pre-school Education:

  1. Pre-school education for children in the age group of 4 to 5 years will be implemented.
  2. To strengthen the pre-school education in Anganwadis, steps will be taken in consultation with states to frame curricula and develop learning materials.
  3. State Governments will prepare cadres of pre-primary teachers.
  4. All primary schools will cover pre-primary education.
  5. Appropriate regulatory and monitoring rules and mechanisms will be designed for private pre-schools.

2) Curriculum Renewal and Examination Reforms

  1. Curricular reforms will be carried out to meet the emerging aspirations and align to national goals of social cohesion, religious amity and national integration.
  2. NCERT will undergo a re-orientation to address issues of deteriorating quality of school education and periodic renewal of curricula and pedagogy to move from rote learning to facilitate understanding and encourage a spirit of enquiry.
  3. Procedural reforms will be undertaken, such as, doing away with migration certificate, school leaving certificate, etc. in order to encourage mobility of students from one institution to another.

3) Learning outcomes in School Education

  1. Norms for learning outcomes will be developed and applied uniformly to both private and government schools.
  2. Within the parameters prescribed by the RTE Act, States will have the flexibility to design and plan for the infrastructure keeping in view the local conditions.
  3. The present provisions of no-detention policy will be amended, as it has seriously affected the academic performance of students. The no detention policy will be limited up to class V and the system of detention will be restored at the upper primary stage.
  4. Effective steps will be taken to improve teaching standards in schools

4) School Education

  1. Each State will undertake a detailed exercise of school mapping to identify schools with low enrolment and inadequate infrastructure.
  2. Minimum standards for provision of facilities and student outcomes across all levels in school education will be laid down.
  3. Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) will be expanded and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) will be expanded and upgraded

5) Protection of Rights of the Child & Adolescent Education

  1. Framework and guidelines for ensuring school safety and security of children will be developed.
  2. Every Principal and teacher will be made aware of the provisions of the relevant Acts, Rules, Regulations, etc.
  3. The Adolescent Education Programme and National Population Education Programme will be integrated into the curriculum of schools in a phased manner.
  4. Adolescent Education will be included in pre- and in-service training programmes of secondary school teachers.
  5. Self-learning online programmes on child rights will be developed for the benefit of students, teachers and parents.
  6. Schools will engage trained counsellors to confidentially advise parents and teachers on adolescence problems faced by growing boys and girls.

6) Inclusive Education and Student Support

  1. Curriculum will cover the issues of social justice and harmony and legal measures in order to avoid social discrimination.
  2. With the objective of encouraging merit and promoting equity, a National Fellowship Fund, primarily designed to support the tuition fees, learning materials and living expenses for about 10 lakh students will be created.
  3. A zero tolerance approach on gender discrimination and violence will be adopted.
  4. There will be dedicated funds for R&D to strengthen disability studies in higher education.

7) Literacy and Lifelong Learning

  1. Existing initiatives will be strengthened and curricula revamped with multi-pronged strategies involving Self Help Groups, NGOs, Government etc.
  2. The Government will set up an apex body of experts to look into remodelling and strengthening of adult literacy programmes and develop scientific criteria for assessing the learning outcomes of adults in literacy, skill development, prior learning and equivalency for certification which may also facilitate entry into the formal education system.
  3. Adult literacy programme will incorporate skill development and digital, financial and legal literacy.

8) Skills in Education and Employability

  1. Skill development programmes in school and higher education system will be reoriented
  2. A detailed plan for the creation of skill schools for improving employment opportunities for secondary school students in special focus districts will be prepared.
  3. Joint certificates by the Sector Skill Council and the School/College authorities to help students take up wage-employment or start their own enterprise.

9) Use of ICT in Education

  1. A concerted effort will be made to make ICT an integral part of education across all levels and domains of learning.
  2. Online maintenance of all records of a child from the time of admission till the time of leaving the school will be made mandatory.
  3. IT reporting systems will be a powerful tool to better school management and performance.

10) Teacher Development and Management

  1. A transparent and merit based norms and guidelines for recruitment of teachers will be formulated in consultation with the state governments.
  2. All vacancies in teacher education institutions and all positions of head teachers and principals will be filled up.
  3. At the National level, a Teacher Education University will be set up covering various aspects of teacher education and faculty development.
  4. A separate cadre for teacher educators will be established in every state.

11) Language and Culture in Education

  1. All states and UTs, if they so desire, may provide education in schools, upto Class V, in mother tongue, local or regional language as the medium of instruction.
  2. Indian culture, local and traditional knowledge will be given adequate space in the school education.
  3. Keeping in view special importance of Sanskrit to the growth and development of Indian languages and its unique contribution to the cultural unity of the country, facilities for teaching Sanskrit at the school and university stages will be offered on a more liberal scale.

12) Self -Development through Comprehensive Education

  1. Extra-curricular activities like games, yoga, NSS, Bal Sansad will be emphasized upon
  2. Funds will be earmarked by the government/ school management for all co-scholastic activities in schools.

13) School Assessment and Governance

  1. The framework of school standards with various parameters and indicators to measure school quality, professional competence of teachers, school leadership and the school management, as well as, self-appraisal and performance assessment will be used throughout the country
  2. A mechanism will be put in place for accreditation of school boards.
  3. Principals/head teachers will be held accountable for the academic performance of the schools and its improvement.

14) Regulation In Higher Education

  1. An independent mechanism for administering the National Higher Education Fellowship Programme will be put in place.
  2. A Central Educational Statistics Agency (CESA) will be established as the central data collection, compilation and consolidation agency with high quality statistical expertise and management information system which will be used for predictive analysis, manpower planning and future course corrections.

15) Quality Assurance In Higher Education

  1. An expert committee will be constituted to study the systems of accreditation in place internationally. It will draw from the experiences of some of the best practices followed by countries having well performing systems and will suggest restructuring of NAAC and NAB as well as redefining methodologies, parameters and criteria. .
  2. Evaluation/ Accreditation details of each institution will be available to the general public through a dedicated website, to enable students and other stakeholders to make informed choices.

16) Open and Distance Learning & MOOCs

  1. The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), in collaboration with Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, will redefine itself to address the large potential demand for vocational education. The issues of management, monitoring and oversight of NIOS will be addressed appropriately.
  2. A quality assurance mechanism for accreditation of all universities/institutions offering ODL / MOOCs will be put in place to ensure quality, promote, innovation and reshape and modernize the ODL / MOOCs courses and programmes.

17) Internationalization of Education

  1. Selected foreign universities, from the top 200 in the world, will be encouraged to establish their presence in India through collaboration with Indian universities.
  2. In order to increase acceptability of Indian students abroad and to attract international students, Indian HEIs will be encouraged to work towards internationalization of curricula aligned with international levels so as to make it globally compatible with best ranked institutions of the world.
  3. Internationalization will be included as one of the components for allocating additional financial resources to government-funded HEIs.

18) Faculty Development in Higher Education

  1. A task force of experts will be set up to study the recruitment, promotion and retention procedures, followed by internationally renowned universities and institutions and suggest measures to promote intellectual and academic excellence in HEIs.
  2. A national campaign will be launched to attract young talent into the teaching profession. In order to attract young talent into teaching profession, a career growth of research students, such as M.Phil & Ph.D scholars, will be created.
  3. A mechanism of assessment of academic performance of faculty including peer review will be put in place so as to ensure academic accountability of public-funded institutions.

19) Research, Innovation and New Knowledge

  1. A clear reorientation of research agenda of National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) will be undertaken to reflect actual issues on the ground.
  2. Steps will be taken to promote generation of new knowledge and their applications and introduction of these new domains into the curricula of higher education to consolidate and strengthen India’s position as a soft power.
  3. In order to promote innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, 100 more incubation centres will be established in HEIs over a period of next 5 years.
  4. International collaborations and networks will be promoted for developing human resources required to sustain new knowledge with special focus on inter-disciplinary research and studies.

20) Financing Education

  1. The government will take steps for reaching the long pending goal of raising the investment in education sector to at least 6% of GDP as a priority.
  2. Instead of setting up new institutions, which require huge investments, priority of the Government will be to expand the capacity of existing institutions.
  3. In order to encourage excellence and efficiency, performance-linked funding of higher education institutions will be implemented.
Editorials, GS-2, Social Issue, Uncategorized

Thrift in education?


How much should India spend on education?

  • The Education Policy of 1968, based on the recommendations of the Kothari commission (1964-66), decided that Indian public expenditure on education must be 6% of gross domestic product (GDP).
  • This goal was reaffirmed in the New Education Policy of 1986 and its revision in 1992, with a suggestion that every attempt must be made to go beyond 6%.
  • But there has been no comprehensive education policy articulated since then

Has any government ever felt of spending this much on education?

  • India has never reached even near this goal.
  • The closest it has come was in 2001, when this number hit 4.4%.
  • The number has been over 4% only in three years since the goal was set
  • it has hovered between 3.3% and 3.8% since the 1980s, and currently it is at 3.8%.

6% of GDP for public expenditure on education has become a commonly accepted norm across the world, with credibility drawn from actual experience across many countries.

  • It is a directional and normative goal, not a precise measure for what may really be required for the educational well-being of any nation.

Let us look at just three key gaps:

  1. Some well off countries have invested and built their systems while India is still in the investment and building phase.
  • We are way short of our actual need of (e.g.) secondary schools, colleges and teachers.
  • There are some critical parts of the education system where we have hardly invested, most notably in teacher education, physical & social sciences, humanities and vocational education.
  • In this investment and build-up phase, we need more money than countries that are done with the build-up, but we are significantly short of them.
  • This large cumulative investment gap stunts the system and its capacity structurally, i.e. this is a structural investment gap.
  1. We cut corners and underfund almost everything by design, other than teacher salaries.
  • Even on teachers, many states underfund the actual system requirement, by not appointing teachers and by hiring teachers at much lower salaries with short-term contracts.
  • Almost every expenditure head is ludicrously underfunded, e.g. school budgets for teaching-learning material, training for teachers and principals, expenditure for basic things such as electricity bill and maintenance, research in colleges and universities.
  • One shocking number that is emblematic of this underfunding: each child is supposed to get a nutritious mid-day meal at school for Rs.3.4. And this number has hardly been revised in the face of soaring food inflation.
  • This operational funding gap makes ineffective, whatever we have built structurally, and eventually erodes it.
  1. Proportion of population.
  • Proportion of population in the age group of 6 to 21 is about 29% for India.
  • With that high a proportion of the population to be educated, India needs proportionately more money, even if other things were to be equal.


  • It is clear that we need sustained public spending much in excess of what we have done, probably way over 6% of GDP.
  • But this is not going to happen till India’s poor tax-to-GDP ratio, which stands at about 18%, which is very low if we compare to other developing countries.
  • Education (and health) will suffer and so will India, till this matter of overarching governance and policy is addressed squarely.
  • This is not a matter of finance, but of sustained political action over time, not merely by the professional and elected political class, but by the public, by all of us.
Editorials, GS-2, Social Issue, Uncategorized

Inequalities in educational access in India-

Net attendance ratio (NAR)

It is the number of students attending a particular section, divided by the total number of kids of that age group (expressed as a percentage). For Classes I to V— NAR is the number of children aged 6-10 years currently attending Classes I-V, divided by estimated population in the age group 6-10 years

  • 9% of kids of primary school going age of the richest fifth of the population attend school both in the rural and urban areas, while that proportion drops to 79% for kids in the poorest fifth of the population in rural areas and 78% in urban areas
  • NAR drops sharply when it comes to secondary school and becomes worse at the higher secondary level
  • The difference between the richest fifth and the poorest fifth in enrolment widens sharply from the primary section to the secondary and higher educational levels.

Implies— while basic literacy is increasingly available to all, the gulf between the poor and the rich widens as you go up the educational ladder.

  • Only 6% of young people from the bottom fifth of the population attend educational levels above higher secondary in urban India, but that proportion is five times higher, at 31%, for young people from the richest fifth of the population
  • NAR for urban kids studying above higher secondary levels for quintile 3, which is the middle fifth of the population, is 15%—half that of the top fifth— the real middle class is also substantially disadvantaged when it comes to higher education
  • The well-off kids have much better opportunities for higher education, essential for getting good jobs in the cities and, increasingly, abroad as well


Gender differences in NAR at the secondary levels— NAR at the secondary level in Gujarat is 63% for boys and 43% for girls

Inequalities of access to Education for castes—

  • Not much difference in the enrolment at the primary level
  • Difference between scheduled castes and tribes and other categories widens at higher levels of education
  • Inequality is particularly large for urban girls belonging to scheduled tribes at the secondary and higher secondary levels.


For religious identities—

  • Enrolment of Muslims is lower compared to those of other religions at every level, both for males and females.
  • In urban India, while enrolment for Muslim boys in primary schools is only marginally lower, the proportion at the higher educational levels is substantially lower.
  • For urban Muslim girls, NAR is substantially lower than for those professing other faiths.

Let us talk about the quality of education

Amounts spent on education

  • Assumption: more spending equals better quality
  • Average expenditure per student in the primary section in urban India for the top fifth of the population is more than eight times that for the kid from the poorest fifth of the population.
  • The average expenditure in the primary section for the top quintile is almost double that of the next quintile (the top 20-40% of the population)
  • Will more government spending on education help—According to the World Bank indicators, government expenditure on education as a percentage of gross domestic product was 3.8% for India in 2012

Quality of government schools—

  • 9% of urban students and 17.2% of rural students take private tuitions
  • Among the richest 20% of the population: 38.1% and 24.7%
  • The poor too want to give their children the advantage of a good education but it is difficult owing to the conditions of government schools


IASbaba’s Views:

  • At a time when the country is seeking job creation through entrepreneurship, higher education and R&D are a must for providing quality and excellence.
  • The oppressed and dalits should be provided access to higher education which can transform their lives.
  • Awareness about various scheme, last mile linking is need of the hour

Connecting the Dots:

  • What do you mean by Brain-trap? Discuss the plausible reasons behind the phenomena.


GS-2, Social Issue, Uncategorized

How efficient is Indian education?



  • There is a need to develop a system where efficiency of our education system can be measured.


  • With Right to Education (RTE) Act and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the goal of ensuring universal primary education has been  aggressively pursued, and a significant quantitative impact in terms of the enrolment ratio has been seen.  However, an assessment of the actual learning levels reveals the flip side of the coin.The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014 indicates learning levels of students are still a huge concern.

Need to measure efficiency

  • It is important for state administrations to realize that improving infrastructure and resources should be accompanied by commensurate learning levels of students.
  • Thus, the need for a measure of efficiency emerges in order to assess education systems in their ability to convert educational inputs to outputs.
  • This can help provide an objective way for states to get feedback on their education delivery process and do away with the practice of judging the performance of states based solely on their inputs, or outputs.
  • There is a need to develop a methodology to measure the relative efficiency of the education delivery process and provide insights on what states can learn from peer-to-peer exchanges.

Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA)

  • It has been used extensively in several investigations and researches across countries and sectors for efficiency analyses.
  • It compares each entity (states in this case) with its peers in the set, and assigns a relative efficiency to it.
  • The first step in efficiency measurement using DEA is to identify relevant inputs and outputs for the educational process.
  • The learning outcomes reported by ASER are used as outputs, namely reading levels in local language, basic arithmetic ability and learning levels in English.
  • Similarly, the resources and infrastructure provided by state authorities to facilitate education are the quantifiable inputs.

Applying it to RTE

  • The RTE lays down certain minimum requirements, and the percentage of schools adhering to those norms serve as input values in this method.
  • The seven factors, as mandated by RTE, considered in this analysis are pupil-teacher ratio, classroom-teacher ratio, availability of drinking water, availability of usable toilets, availability of buildings and playgrounds, availability of library with books and mid-day meals being served.
  • Two additional inputs to represent the socioeconomic background of students as well as the local village infrastructure are also used.


  • A careful inclusion of inputs as well as outputs is needed in assessment of the status quo, and data-driven insights need to be drawn to identify the right focus areas for improvement.
  • DEA fulfils all such requirements, and can aid in the policymaking process in other sectors too.
  • A sound elementary education system is essential for our country to tap the potential of its vast human resource, and the importance of data-driven policy in this context can never be overemphasized.
Editorials, GS-2, Uncategorized

Bitter medicine for the Centre

The Hindu

The Supreme Court has set up a three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha to perform the statutory functions of the Medical Council of India.

Issues which needs reform on urgent basis are:

  • Need to reduce the cost of medical education and increase access in different parts of the country.
  • Need to improve the doctor-to-population ratio, which is one for every 1,674 persons, as per the parliamentary panel report, against the WHO-recommended one to 1,000.
  • Need to remove bottlenecks to start medical colleges, such as conditions stipulating the possession of a vast extent of land and needlessly extensive infrastructure, and to considerably rectify the imbalance, especially in underserved States.
    • The primary criterion to set up a college should only be the availability of suitable facilities to impart quality medical education.
  • The development of health facilities has long been affected by a sharp asymmetry between undergraduate and postgraduate seats in medicine.
    • There are only about 25,000 PG seats, against a capacity of 55,000 graduate seats. The Lodha committee will review this gap.
  • National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, some States
    • Will addresses issues such as the urban-rural divide and language barriers.

The single most important issue that the Lodha committee would have to address is corruption in medical education, in which the MCI is mired.

  • Appointing prominent persons from various fields to a restructured council would shine the light of transparency, and save it from reverting to its image as an “exclusive club” of socially disconnected doctors.