Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Schooling crisis in India

"Struggling to Learn" about sums it up. The 2006 visit by De and colleagues was a follow-up to a 1996 survey of "primary schools in about 200 villages in undivided Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh". A decade later the team found "many signs of positive change": enrolment rates, gender disparities, infrastructure, cooked mid-day meals - all showed improvement.

But quality of teaching remains a big worry: "barely half of the children in Classes 4 and 5 could do single digit multiplication, or a simple division by 5". These results reinforce the abysmal findings of the ASER 2007 report about which I'd blogged in passing, in November 2008.

De and colleagues report on the continuing plague of insufficient teachers and teacher absenteesim, also noted by filmmaker Umesh Aggarwal in his documentary on the dismal condition of schooling in Rajasthan. Indeed, the Andhra Pradesh government is currently recruiting over 47 thousand teachers - how did they allow such a huge shortfall to build up?

Meanwhile, Krishna Kumar, head of the national education council NCERT, recently revealed that India currently needs 500,000 teachers; a number that he said will shoot up to 6 million in the near future. An April 2008 report in The Guardian said that the "world needs to find and fund an extra 18 million teachers by 2015 to cope with its burgeoning pupil population".

In India's 2009-10 budget estimates, outlay for all education - primary, secondary, higher, technical, agricultural, scholarships - all education, constitutes 7.86% of the total central plan outlay: 326,680 m out of 4,156,910 m rupees. "School Education and Literacy" constitutes 71.03% of the total education outlay, or 5.59% of the total central plan outlay.

Is 5.59% enough to address the crisis?

4 comments:

Basab Pradhan said...

Giri,

The Hindu article in most parts is quite encouraging, notwithstanding the deficiencies pointed with the quality of education being received.

To me it is plain that public schools funded by the state government is a must to make universal education possible. The problem is that funds routed through government channels is widely misappropriated. I wonder if there is some public-private partnership that can make this happen.

गिरिधर | giridhar | గిరిధర్ said...

Basab

Public-private partnerships - the World Bank's mantra - seems unlikely to succeed where there's "significant amount of social responsibility associated with service delivery", as one critic puts it.

"The irony is that PPPs are faltering in infrastructure, the very area that the Bank claims PPPs have been the strongest.... However, private companies are growing hesitant to enter into PPPs, and this is only partly due to the global financial meltdown. At least in sectors like water where there is significant amount of social responsibility associated with service delivery, the private sector is reluctant to come in, as it is seen as being unprofitable. In spite of the poor record of privatisation to deliver services like water to the weaker sections of the society and its vulnerable members like small and marginal farmers, the Bank [wants] to push the PPPs in more and more sensitive sectors."

The above is from Shripad Dharmadhikary's critique of the Bank's claims to expertise here: http://www.indiatogether.org/2009/feb/eco-casmore.htm

And a more specific indictment is of the Bank's PPP initiatives in the water sector here: http://www.indiatogether.org/2007/oct/opi-wbank.htm

"Interestingly, almost all the projects that the Bank presented as successes in the Water Sector Review 1998 and used to justify introduction of privatisation in India subsequently collapsed and the private players exited - Trinidad in 1999, Manila (West) in 2002, Puerto Rico in 2003, Buenos Aries in 2005."

I can't see how a PPP can succeed.

गिरिधर | giridhar | గిరిధర్ said...

Incidentally, the authors have pubished a longer version of this essay in the current issue of Frontline (14-27 Mar 2009).

And I've just blogged about it in my Esperanto blog! :-)

गिरिधर | giridhar | గిరిధర్ said...

The Frontline article is to be found here