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Election the Best Time to Ask for More Money in Education

Access to education, Primary Education, Secondary Education


The New Indian Express

In one of my articles during 2013, I had qualified myself as a selfish academic and requested the finance minister for more budgetary allocations for education. I now rebrand myself as an academic activist. It needs reasonable activism than prolonged patience for education to get its due. The Annual School Education Reports (ASER), the gross neglect of higher education reflected in the battle for power between UGC and AICTE, curtailed research grants in the name of fiscal discipline, etc. are pointers calling for a tectonic shift in the thought process of policymakers. The fundamental unit in the education value chain is school education. Let us begin there first.

The ASER and PISA reports on the status of Indian school education are reduced to innocuous annual rituals—the media reports, policymakers react, readers read and the nation forgets in the noise generated by the high-decibel chest-thumpers who at the drop of the hat claim that Right to Education (RTE) as the sarva roga nivarana (cure for all diseases) for school education. RTE has definitely increased enrolment and UNESCO compliments India for that. But has it increased enlightenment? Indian school education system needs, in Clay Christensen’s words, “disruptive action”. Here are some disruptive ideas that need sustained and genuine activism from concerned stakeholders.

Government schools despite receiving the largest proportion from budget allocations are still struggling. Why should students attending government schools be victims of systemic inefficiency? They certainly deserve good education considering the salaries teachers get or they be provided with alternate pathways for private school education. The ongoing teacher recruitment and disproportionately huge salaries or the RTE rhetoric is certainly not the right solution. There are two quick solutions.

Using my good friend Prof. R Vaidyanathan’s analogy, educational loans in India must follow the housing loan policy—not in the interest rates or repayment terms, but in the extent of coverage. A housing loan covers the entire house, beginning from foundation to terrace. There is no housing loan for a new house meant only for the first or second floor. Unfortunately, educational loans in India are only for the first and second floors. Not for the foundation. The gap between the costs of government and private school education is definitely huge. While higher education is important for a country’s economic progress, isn’t school education also equally, if not more, important? The Government of India is careful in ensuring that no student is deprived of higher education (public or private) for want of finances. In similar measure, no student must be deprived of private school education for want of finance and hence must have access to interest-free bank loans for school education. Such interest-waiver is definitely not a burden to the government but an investment for India’ future.

ASER reports are time and again critical of the poor teacher attendance and the resultant student output in government schools. The Government of India must announce a zero income tax for all school teachers (public and private) and such income tax waivers must be linked with teacher performance. Teacher performance shall be measured by a fool-proof mechanism that tests four critical parameters—student output, self-development, contribution to school and contribution to community. A teacher who satisfies all the four dimensions shall be eligible for full income tax waiver and this system needs to be administered diligently.

When corporate India asked for more, UPA (I & II) gave them a waiver of over Rs 35,00,000 crore (Government of India’s foregone revenue). It’s asking time now. I have asked. Will other academic activists join me?

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Education in Vietnam Very good on paper

Higher Education, Primary Education, Secondary Education

The Economist


ON SATURDAY morning, December 14th, America’s secretary of state, John Kerry, will travel to Vietnam. One of his talking points, according to the State Department, will be the “empowering role of education”. But it seems like Vietnam has already taken the message.

On December 3rd, the OECD released the results from its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an exam administered every three years to 15- and 16-year-olds in dozens of countries. Vietnam recently joined the test for the first time, and it scored remarkably well—higher in maths than America and Britain, though not as high as Shanghai or Singapore. Nguyen Vinh Hien, a deputy minister for education, characterised Vietnam’s overall 17th-place ranking out of 65 countries and economies as a pleasant “surprise.”


The PISA scores, as they are known, measured how a half-million students from randomly selected schools answered written and multiple-choice questions in a two-hour test. Mathematics was the primary focus, but students were also evaluated on reading, science and problem-solving. Coverage of the scores by the Western news media suggested that the impressive maths performance by Vietnam, where per-capita GDP is only about $1,600, was perhaps a bit humbling for education officials in Washington, London and other self-regarding world capitals.

What explains Vietnam’s good score? Christian Bodewig of the World Bank says it reflects, among other positive things, years of investment in education by the government and a “high degree of professionalism and discipline in classrooms across the country”. But Mr Bodewig adds that the score may be impressive in part because so many poor and disadvantaged Vietnamese students drop out of school. The World Bank reports that in 2010 the gross enrolment rate at upper-secondary schools in Vietnam was just 65%, compared with 89% and 98% in America and Britain, respectively. South Korea’s rate was 95%.

A chorus of Vietnamese education specialists say that Vietnam’s PISA score does not fully reflect the reality of its education system, which is hamstrung by a national curriculum that encourages rote memorisation over critical thinking and creative problem-solving. “Every child in this country learns the same thing,” and nationwide tests merely reinforce the intellectual homogeneity that results, in the lament of To Kim Lien, the director of the Centre for Education and Development, a Vietnamese non-profit in Hanoi. Ms Lien reckons that instead of catalysing educational reform, the score might provide a convenient excuse for complacency in matters of policy. And the old-fashioned, inward-looking Ministry of Education and Training, she adds, is a past master at complacency.

Another systemic problem is a general lack of “integrity” in Vietnam’s education sector, in the words of Nguyen Thi Kieu Vien of the Global Transparency Education Network, a new initiative of Transparency International, a watchdog based in Berlin. In a recent survey the organisation found that 49% of Vietnamese respondents perceived their education sector to be “corrupt” or “highly corrupt”. The percentage was higher than that found in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia. Corruption is plainly evident at elite Vietnamese schools, where slots for pupils are routinely sold for $3,000 each. Yet it also exists on a smaller scale, in subtler forms. Many Vietnamese teachers hold extra tuitions, outside of regular school hours, for a small fee of between $2.50 and $5 per lesson. Not all parents can afford to pay these fees, and so the practice tends to exacerbate inequality.

In November some top-ranking national officials passed a resolution calling for reform in the education sector. Kim Ngoc Minh, an education researcher in Hanoi, says the resolution is the most comprehensive and ambitious in a generation. Other education specialists however wonder whether the resolution, which calls for reform in broad stokes, will translate into actual policy changes.

Actual changes are badly needed. In 2008, researchers from Harvard reported that Vietnam’s higher-education system was in “crisis“, and that it lagged far behind the systems of Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, to say nothing of those in China, Taiwan and South Korea. As a warning, they pointed to the comparative lack of articles published by Vietnamese researchers in peer-reviewed international journals. The Harvard memo also said the government was awarding research funding “uncompetitively”, and that there was a vast difference between what graduates had learned and what prospective employers wanted them to know.

These shortcomings can be linked to others in primary and secondary schools. Ms Lien of the Centre for Education and Development says that a basic reform package might begin with the younger age group, by including parents in a decision-making process that has long been dominated by the education ministry. Nearly two years ago, she was among a dozen senior educators who submitted paperwork to the ministry requesting permission to establish a national parent-teacher association. Their group still has not received an official response. Perhaps the ministry is afraid of what Vietnamese parents might say, if they had a platform.

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Education Development Index (EDI) 2012-2013 released by NEUPA

Primary Education, Secondary Education


Jagran Josh

The annual Education Development Index (EDI) 2012-13 was released on 6 December 2013 by the National University of Education Planning and Administration (NEUPA). The EDI comprises of four parameters: access, infrastructure, teachers and outcomes.
According to the EDI rankings prepared by NEUPA on the basis of statistics collected by the District Information System for Education (DISE), Lakshadweep has retained its top position with a composite EDI score of 0.712.
Composite EDI score is prepared by the NEUPA taking into account both the performances in primary and upper primary levels.
Lakshadweep is followed by Puducherry (0.696), Tamil Nadu (0.683), Sikkim (0.672) and Karnataka (0.661).
Among the BIMARU States, the downward slide continues for Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan except Bihar which has recovered a bit.
Uttar Pradesh has slipped from 32nd in 2011-12 to 34th in 2012-13 with an EDI score of 0.508. Madhya Pradesh slipped from 26th to 28th slot with an EDI score of 0.552. Rajasthan slipped from 23rd position to 25th with an EDI score of 0.572.
Other Notable highlights of the EDI Report • The most remarkable recovery among the northern states is made by Punjab. It has recovered from 13th position to 6th in 2012-13 with an EDI score of 0.647. • Gujarat has slipped from 9th in 201-12 to 18th in 2012-13 with an EDI score of 0.591. • Among the southern states the biggest decline has been of Kerala. It has slipped from 7th in 2011-12 to 14th in 2012-13 with an EDI score of 0.603. • The reason for overall poor ranking of Kerala has been on account of reverses in primary education. In primary education, the state’s rank went down to 20th from sixth in 2011-12. • Delhi slipped from 6th in 2011-12 to 11th in 2012-13 in overall ranking with an EDI score of 0.627. • Maharashtra has shown consistency retaining its 8th with an EDI score of 0.635.

1. Lakshadweep 0.712 31. West Bengal 0.527
2. Puducherry 0.696 32. Assam 0.527
3. Tamil Nadu 0.683 33. Goa 0.520
4. Sikkim 0.672 34. Uttar Pradesh 0.508
5. Karnataka 0.661 35. Jharkhand 0.452

A Brief Analysis The rankings reflect the achievements of the states in the education sector. Variety of indicators presented in the flash statistics revealed improvement in all the components of universal elementary education including average annual drop-out rate and retention at primary level of education. Moreover, more schools now have drinking water and toilet facility and other necessary infrastructure in school than in the previous year. The EDI rankings reflect that there remains huge gap between the southern and the northern region. When the EDI of southern and northern States is compared, it indicates that the southern states have improved leaps and bound after the enactment of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. However, the northern States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and others despite their best efforts have proved to be no match.
Background Education Development Index (EDI) is a joint effort of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India and the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA).

Ranking of States on the basis of EDI started in 2005-06.

The purpose of EDI is to summarize various aspects related to input, process and outcome indicators and to identify geographical areas that lag behind in the educational development. Initially 24 indicators were indentified for computing EDI. These indicators were based on the data collected by the District Information System for Education (DISE). In 2009, the indicators for computing EDI were revised from 24 to 29. These indicators have been grouped under four areas namely Access, Infrastructure, Teacher and Outcome.


After data provided by DISE is collected and cleaned, each indicator is normalised by using the following formula:

Upon receiving normalised values, Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is applied to decide the factor loading and weights. In case of a few variables, policy options were explored to identify the best values instead of based on the observed values. Some of these variables are: percentage of schools with pupil-teacher and students-classroom ratio above 30 and 35 (best value, zero), percentage of teachers without professional qualification (best value, zero) etc.
List of Indicators in EDI

ACCESS Density   of Schools per 10 Sq. Km
Availability   of schools per 1000 child population
Ratio of   primary to Upper Primary Schools/Sections
INFRASTRUCTURE Percentage   of Schools with Student-Classroom Ratio: Primary >30 and Upper-Primary   > 35
Percentage   of Schools with 1:1 Classroom-Teacher Ratio
Percentage   of Schools with Drinking Water facility
Percentage   of Schools with Boys Toilet
Percentage   of Schools without Girls Toilets
Percentage   of Schools Required and have Ramp
Percentage   of Schools with Kitchen-Shed ( Government & Aided Schools)
TEACHER Percentage   of schools with female teachers ( in schools with 2 and more teachers)
Percentage   of Schools with Pupil-Teacher Ratio: Primary >30 & Upper Primary >   35
Percentage   of Single-Teacher Schools
Teachers   without Professional Qualification
OUTCOME Average   number of instructional days -Upper Primary
Average   number of Instructional days
Average   working hours for teachers
Percentage   of change in enrollment in Gov schools over the previous year
Gross   Enrollment Ratio
Participation   of SC children: Percentage of SC Population (2001 census): Percentage of SC   Enrollment
Participation   of ST children: Percentage of ST Population (2001 census): Percentage of  ST Enrollment
Participation   of Muslim children: Percentage of Muslim Population (2001 census : Percentage   of Muslim Enrollment
Ratio of   Girls Enrollment to Boys Enrollment
Drop-out   rate
Transition   Rate for primary to upper primary level


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PISA: China tops. India has fled the race

Global news, Primary Education, Secondary Education

The Economics Times


PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) scores are just in. China is on top. Asian countries dominate from China to South Korea, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Macau. The US lags. The UK does slightly better. Scandinavian countries, on top for a long time, have been slipping.

So where is India? No where. In 2009 study, India ranked 73 out of 74 nations. So to avoid embarrassment, the Indian government decided that it will not participate in the latest study. Weirdly, the Indian government has cited the disconnect between the testing parameters and what our children are taught in school as the reason not to participate.

PISA is a global study conducted by OECD every three years to assess 15-year olds on their performance in maths, science and reading. The data hs increasingly been used to assess the quality of education and its impact on incomes across nations.

Assessing the results, four important things emerge. One, some of the great powers of the 20th century – US, UK, France, Russia – do not get top rankings. Two, Asia by and large is doing well – but don’t talk of India. Three, new emerging countries in South America like Brazil, East European countries like Estonia, Poland, Vietnam are improving their scores. Four, Scandinavian countries like Finland, once known for their education system, have been slipping.

PISA scores will push governments in different countries to introspect where they have gone wrong with their education system and how they can get better.

But in India – a nation with one of the youngest population in the world – the government must first learn to acknowledge that we have a problem. Fleeing the study serves no purpose.

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Education index shows growing north-south chasm

Primary Education, Secondary Education

Times of India


NEW DELHI: The annual Education Development Index (EDI) for 2012-13 is out and like previous years the narrative has not changed. There is a civilizational difference between the south and the north as the Hindi heartland states continue to languish at the bottom of the heap.

The EDI is also an indicator that while the southern states are improving in leaps and bounds after the enactment of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and others despite their best efforts are proving to be no match. States were judged on four parameters: access, infrastructure, teachers and outcomes.

EDI, done by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration on the basis of mammoth District Information of School Education (DISE) data, has ranked Lakshadweep on top after evaluating its primary and upper primary education performance. Punucherry is ranked second, followed by Tamil Nadu, Sikkim and Karnataka.

Tamil Nadu’s high ranking also exposes the flawed ranking system that the HRD ministry had adopted in ranking states on the basis of their performance in the midday meal scheme. The southern state was poorly ranked above 20 and touted as a laggard. The state government had protested. One of the parameter used in DISE ranking takes into account infrastructure as an important component like the availability of kitchen sheds.

Among the northern states, Punjab has recovered a lot of ground occupying the sixth position, a remarkable recovery from its 13th rank in 2011-12.

Among the southern states the biggest decline has been of Kerala, once among the best performers. It is now languishing at 14th position. In 2011-12 it was ranked seventh. What led to Kerala’s overall poor ranking is the loss in primary education. In primary education, the state’s rank went down to 20th from sixth in 2011-12.

While Delhi has also slipped from sixth to 11th in overall ranking, Maharashtra has shown consistency retaining its eighth position.

As for the perpetual laggards, Bihar has recovered a bit. It is now ranked 30th from 33rd in 2011-12. UP’s downward slide continues, from 32nd to 34th. Rajasthan is in the same league: 25th from 23rd position. West Bengal is yet to witness CM Mamata Banerjee’s much promised winds of change in school education. The state has slipped to 31st rank from 29th in the previous EDI ranking. Madhya Pradesh, likely to give another term to Shivraj Singh Chauhan, is also among the worst performers, occupying 28th slot.

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Education is free from class 1 to 10 in all government schools

Finances & Budgets, Primary Education, Secondary Education

The News (International)



Education is free from class one to 10th in all government schools within the federal territory, said Director General Federal Directorate of Education Islamabad Dr Shahnaz Riaz.

She stated this while addressing the 4th annual convention titled ‘Education-Road to Sustainable Development and Peace’ organised by the Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) here on Monday.

She said, “By implementing the article 25-A of the constitution the ministry of CAD had directed all the public sector schools not to collect the monthly fee from the children from the next month.” While addressing the convention PCE National Coordinator Zehra Arshad demanded of the authorities concerned that they should immediately implement free and compulsory education for all.

She further said, “The PCE is taking important steps for implementation of Article 25-A and have set up a network in more than 65 districts of the country for that purpose.” “Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) introduced in 2012 as Right to Free and Compulsory Education and the Sindh government in February 2013 introduced ‘Sindh Right of Children to free and Compulsory Education Bill’ but still rules of business have not been drafted for either,” she added.

“The representatives of the civil society, PCE have filed three Public Interest Litigation suits in the High Courts of Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar to demand the respective provincial governments to provide free and compulsory education to all children as promised in the Constitution — but the courts aren’t giving the cases the attention they deserve,” she resented.

Zehra cited that according to Unesco, the number of children out of school is 12.9 million (the second highest number in the world, after Nigeria) adding that only64% schools have drinking water, three percent of schools have electricity, 61 percent schools have latrines, 13,635 schools in Pakistan (11%) have no building.

According to the Unesco Global Monitoring Report 2012, Pakistani women with a high level of literacy earned 95 per cent more than women with no literacy skills, whereas the differential was only 33 percent among men.

The others speakers said that the survival rate till grade 5th (number of students who complete school till the fifth grade) is 56 (out of a 100). Only 35% of all primary school teachers in rural areas of Pakistan are female, which will continue to limit access to females, as many families don’t feel comfortable sending their daughters to school unless they have female teachers due to cultural norms prevalent in Pakistani society.

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NIT to offer free coaching to less-privileged students

Secondary Education


The Times of India

To provide knowledge support to aspiring engineers of marginalized communities, National Institute of Technology (NIT-Adityapur) has started free coaching classes for boys and girls of surrounding villages. The Centre for Community Welfare of NIT, as part of its social responsibility programme, has introduced free coaching classes for students of Class VIII-Class XII of adjoining villages. These classes are also intended to prepare students for entrance examination to various engineering colleges.”This will give them an opportunity to study in institutes of repute such as NIT,” said NIT director Ram Babu Kodali on Thursday on the objective of the educational scheme commencing November 1. Several youngsters from Asangi, Ichhapur, Krisnpur and Bergidih, which are adjacent to the government-run-engineering college will benefit from the scheme. “Bright students of the college will be taking classes,” said a senior college faculty who has drafted the scheme. “Actually, our director was keen on NIT serving the local community in a more meaningful manner, therefore, the preparatory classes for the underprivileged youth of the local villages,” said Dr Rajiv Bhusan, professor in charge, (media relations). The college administration has announced that especial effort would be made to enroll the girl students along with the boys so that equal opportunity is available to both in shaping their future. “As per our plan, the college students will conduct the classes as of now, but if required the faculty may join them in future,” said a faculty on anonymity. Sankalp, the outfit constituted by NIT students, to carry out empowerment measures in the fringe areas has a history of organizing tuition classes for the economically backward children of pre-school, primary and secondary school.


CBSE plans accreditation for schools to ensure quality

Quality, Secondary Education

The New Indian Express


Aimed at ensuring quality education, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is  planning to introduce accreditation for schools affiliated to it.”CBSE accreditation will not be similar to the one given to higher education institutions by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). There will not be any type of grading of institutions,” said K Unnikrishnan, president of All-Kerala CBSE School Principals Association and a member of assessing panel.

From 309 schools in 1962, the  number of schools has risen to 10,500 in the country. The Board also has international jurisdiction. It has come to the notice of the CBSE authorities that managements of many schools approach the Board at the time of initial affiliation, up-gradation or renewal of affiliation.

Once these formalities are over, there is no measure to check whether the quality of education is maintained. The only indicators of standards are Class-X and XII Board exam results which are also highlighted by schools individually.

“The CBSE has entrusted 12 empanelled agencies like the All-India Association for Christian Higher Education for carrying out the task of assessment. The agencies will inspect parameters in seven domains, including infrastructure, results, admission procedure,   staff recruitment procedure and use of technology. Another feature of the accreditation is that an accredited school need not renew its affiliation to the CBSE. However, schools will have to renew their accreditation every three years,” said  Unnikrishnan, who is also the principal of Delhi International Senior Secondary School, Valanchery. “It is expected that CBSE accreditation will soon become a factor indicating the quality of education offered by schools,” he said.



Student Entrepreneurship Policy for Kerala schools

Curriculum Development, Secondary Education

20-Aug-2013 :

Business Line

The State government has announced the rollout of its flagship Student Entrepreneurship Policy for schools.
This was mentioned by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in his Independence Day speech by citing the example of Startup Village, India’s first telecom technology business incubator, as a testament to the success of the policy.
The State Government, during the Emerging Kerala Global Connect in September last year, had offered a number of incentives for college students wanting to set up business start-ups.
In its second phase, the Student Entrepreneurship Policy, which is designed to encourage innovations by youngsters, will be offered to school-going children.
Around 10,000 bright school students from classes VIII to XII will be chosen through an online examination and provided computers and other learning material to improve their technology skills as part of the new project.
“Young people are going to provide the strength for Kerala’s forward march, and our duty is to provide them the opportunities here at home,” the Chief Minister said.
It is very clear that employment and growth opportunities around the world in the next 50 years are going to be based on technology, he added.
The State government will also be launching a new project that offers 100 teams of five college students each a Startup Tool Box, which will have high-end computers, smartphones and other technology items required to create a startup company.
By extending the Student Entrepreneurship Policy to school level, Kerala will seamlessly have a programme where young minds from 8th standard have opportunity to explore original thinking and learn computer programming languages in depth which will give them a great foundation to begin a startup from first year in college and have a successful company by their fourth year in college, said Sanjay Vijayakumar, Chairman, Board of Governors, Startup Village.
Sijo Kuruvilla George, CEO, Startup Village, said, “Kerala is fast achieving the critical mass for startups. The State is at the cusp of a startup revolution as evidenced by the excitement in college campuses.”


CBSE to organize its 2nd International summit in December

Secondary Education

Jagran Josh


With a view to generate awareness among students regarding health, wellness, life skills, gender sensitivity and value education, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided to organize its 2nd International Summit in December in the state capital of Bihar – Patna.
All the CBSE affiliated schools can participate in the Summit with a delegation of four students and a mentor to participate in the event. They should register themselves on or before 30 November 2013.
According to the officials of CBSE, the summit is aimed at developing a sense of self-confidence, eco-sensitivity and right approaches to life processes, health, well-being and gender among the students.
Prior to the International Summit, CBSE is going organize a regional summit across 14 centers in India during the months of September and November. For the regional summit, the schools may register via the online registration form available at www.expressionsindia.org on or before 30 August 2013. Each school will have to pay a registration charge of Rs 20,000.
The major issues that are going to be discussed and covered at the summit are: concept, needs and trends of school health and life skills, values education, good practices in assessment and continuous evaluation of skills, etc.

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