Weekly Update on Education

4 August 2009

Agastya Takes Science Ed. Mobile to India’s Villages, 30 July 2009

In 1998, as India made history by exploding five nuclear bombs, Ramji Raghavan was winding down his banking career in London. The detonation was an igniting force for Raghavan, who had long dreamed of working in some sort of educational capacity in India’s villages. So Raghavan founded the Agastya International Foundation in 1999, with the overarching goal of revolutionizing learning in India by creating scientific infrastructure. Fundraising during the era of the dot-com bust was not easy, so he got a friend at Hindustan Mobile to donate a few vehicles, then got a few portable experiments from the Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education in Mumbai, and trained a tractor driver, Balram, to be the first mobile lab instructor. Balram drove the mobile science lab around to village schools for a few weeks, and came back to report that the project was “having an electrified effect.” More [+]

“Varsities need to be given more freedom”
The Hindu, 2 Aug 2009

Kolkata: Advocating greater freedom and transparency in the functioning of universities in the country, Kapil Sibal, Minister for Human Resource Development, said here on Saturday that the universities “can grow and emerge as centres of excellence only if the system is freed up” and that his Ministry would work towards doing so in the coming years. More [+]

Reengineering higher education
Business Standard, 3 Aug 2009

In January-May this year, the sector increased its spending on print by 9% to stay on top with 19% of the pie. The education sector has held on to its position as the biggest advertiser in the print media, bringing in 19 per cent of the total advertising in this medium in January-May this year, up from 17 per cent in 2008. In the first five months of this year, the sector increased its spending on print by 9 per cent, according to Adex India, a division of TAM Media Research. More [+]

Now, private schools under CAG scanner
The Times of India, 31 July 2009

New Delhi: If it was tough for you to figure out those hidden charges under the guise of charges for development, building, swimming pool and library in your child's school fee bill, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) will now demystify it for you. On Friday, CAG said it has decided to audit accounts of unaided private schools of Delhi. The parents in Delhi who took to the streets after the recent steep fee hike by schools in the name of Sixth Pay Commission are sure to rejoice over the CAG decision. The powerful private school lobby in the Capital is, however, bound to resist it. This year accounts of only 25 schools will be taken up for review and in the next round more schools will be subjected to the audit which will be cyclical in nature. More [+]

School Vouchers Work
CFO-Connect, July 2009

The Indian educational system is the second largest in the world in providing access and coverage and spends a whopping Rs.41, 978 crore annually. This figure is impressive, but we are all too painfully aware that inefficiencies abound in this system. There is a huge gap between our aspirations and the achievements on the ground, which reflect poor accountability for the tax payers’ money. The only way to make state schools function well is to make them accountable to students and parents. There are many ways to achieve this goal, but none that is more powerful than the school voucher. More [+]

Let Health Ministry retain medical education: task force
The Hindu, 2 Aug 2009

New Delhi: Making out a strong case for retaining medical education under the proposed National Council for Human Resources for Health (NCHRH), the Health Ministry has said an over-arching regulatory mechanism is needed for developing and strengthening medical education to meet the country’s health needs. Medical education is the bone of contention between the Ministries of Health and Human Resource Development. While the Yash Pal Committee recommended bringing medical education under the purview of the Commission on Higher Education and Research, the Health Ministry wants it under the NCHRH. More [+]

Education reformers push for school funding alternatives
Washington Examiner, 2 Aug 2009

Putting the brakes on school spending without stripping students of quality will require revolutionizing how districts are funded, and some experts say the timing couldn’t be better. Local officials spent the past year wincing through painful cuts to schools. In Fairfax and Montgomery, home to about half of the metro area's students, staff and teachers will go without cost-of-living raises next year. In D.C., summer school slots will be cut in half in 2010 and about $175 per student was sliced from the mayor’s budget request for the schools. More [+]

Disabled left out of education Bill, protest activists
Business Standard , 2 Aug 2009

The chances of 20 million children with physical and other disabilities to get the right to education has been jeopardised, as the Right to Education Bill, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha on July 30, excludes them. Disability rights activists who went and met Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal to point out this lacuna said he was dismissive of their appeal to delay the Bill and incorporate disabled children. The activists are staging an agitation from tomorrow demanding inclusion of the disabled in the Bill, scheduled to be passed in the Lok Sabha soon. More [+]

Reforming Indian Education
Asian Tribune, 2 Aug 2009

If well-begun is half done, Kapil Sibal seems to have begun well, as India’s Minister for Human Resource Development in the second UPA ministry, with his ambitious agenda for far reaching reforms in Indian education. Of Sibal’s reform proposals the most important are providing universal, free and compulsory education for all children aged between six and 14 (universal basic education); and revamping higher education. More [+]

Book of the Month

On Milton Friedman’s 97th birth anniversary (31 July), we revisit his ideas through the book:

"Liberty and Learning – Milton Friedman’s voucher idea at 50"

Fifty years ago, Milton Friedman had the ground-breaking idea to improve public education with school vouchers. By separating government financing of education from government administration of schools, Friedman argued, “parents at all income levels would have the freedom to choose the schools their children attend.”

Liberty & Learning is a collection of essays from the nation’s top education experts evaluating the progress of Friedman’s innovative idea and reflecting on its merits in the 21st century. The book also contains a special prologue and epilogue by Milton Friedman himself.

The contributors to this volume take a variety of approaches to Friedman’s voucher idea. All of them assess the merit of Friedman’s plan through an energetic, contemporary perspective, though some authors take a theoretical position, while others employ a very pragmatic approach.

Source: CATO Institute


Action for School Admission Reforms (ASAR) More+

Action for School Admission Reforms (ASAR) is School Choice Campaign's initiative to usher in fairness and transparency in nursery admissions. If parents in your city too are suffering, please write to us at [email protected]


School Choice Campaign launches

400 girl children from poor families of North East Delhi will receive school vouchers for a period of 4 years.
For further details email at [email protected]


Dialogue Series on Quality Education for All

Date: 8 August 2009 (6:30-8:00pm)
Venue: Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre

School Fee Hike:
What is the real problem?

Panel discussion on the recent parents - schools deadlock. Find out more

To confirm participation email at [email protected]


Support Children's Right to Education of Choice!

For more details on how to support, log on to or email us at [email protected]


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