Education

Suggestions on Draft National Medical Commission Bill, 2016NITI Aayog’s effort towards reforming Indian Medical Education is a step long overdue. There is a broad consensus across the Parliament, Executive, Judiciary and State Governments to replace the thoroughly corrupt, utterly inefficient and a decrepit Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new commission that meets the aspirations of 21st century India. MCI has neither fulfilled the objective of improving access to medical education nor setting the high professional and ethical standards that the complex healthcare sector demands from the doctors. It has become a textbook example of ‘regulatory capture’. The age old socialist mindset towards regulatory institutions continues to plague many sectors in India, of which MCI is only one example.

NITI Aayog’s radical shift in regulatory philosophy towards liberal and market oriented one can be considered as one of the big bang reforms of the current government. A shift in approach from inputs based norms and standards to the one based on outcomes is definitely going to create a lasting impact in quality of medical education and is expected to set the precedent for other streams of education too.

The National level entrance and exit exams will ensure that merit prevails over discretion and admissions are handled in a transparent manner. Removing entry barriers for private investors by doing away with the infamous ‘non-profit’ tag will address the challenge of access and helps meet the huge demand for medical education in India. Currently, around 11 lakh students chase an odd 55,000 seats and this has given some unscrupulous colleges a free hand in exploiting the artificially induced scarcity.

Largely in consonance with the proposed bill, we would like to bring few specific issues to the Aayog’s notice to help realizing the true spirit of the bill.

Research Year: 2016 | Category: Education

A recent study by Azim Premji Foundation (APF) titled “Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009 and Private School Closure in India” has received wide media coverage and ignited debate over the impact of RTE on private schools.[1] The study claims that only five private schools have closed down in seven states and one union territory that it studied—four in Karnataka and one in Uttarakhand. Anurag Behar, CEO of APF, declared that any research reporting otherwise is “false or ludicrously exaggerated.”[2]

The possible impact of RTE on the closure of private schools is a critical policy issue, especially when the parents have deliberately chosen the fee-charging schools over the free government schools. Therefore, the study deserves closer review and analysis, which is the objective of this detailed assessment. Instead of doing a newspaper column, we decided to do a full review of their research processes, methodology and overall soundness of research. The basic purpose is not so much to challenge their conclusions but to assess the research that serves as a basis for arriving at those conclusions.

We embarked on our mission: We read the study once, twice, thrice. We thought we must be missing something—this is a study produced by India’s largest education foundation. After all those readings and discussions, we came to the inescapable conclusion: the quality of the APF study is alarmingly poor. It is hard to believe that the most well-endowed education foundation in the country, which also runs an education university, would consider this study worthy of publication. Moreover, the CEO of the Foundation, who presumably has read the study, would consider it appropriate to ridicule all other research and experiences, and even declare them as almost lies, on the basis of this study. It is really a sad day for research, for the quality of public debate and for the quality standards of APF.


[1]http://www.azimpremjifoundation.org/sites/default/files/Right-to-Education-Act-2009-and-Private-School-Closure.pdf

[2]Anurag Behar, ‘Reality of School Closures,’ Mint, 18 February 2016, http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/nd3HbSousJ84BbJtlomlHN/The-reality-of-school-closures.html. See also Rohit Dhankar, ‘A Lesson in Hidden Agendas,’Hindu, 26 March 2016, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/a-lesson-in-hidden-agendas/article8397088.ece A reply to Dhankar by one of the authors is ‘Ideology Masquerading as Research, 'http://spontaneousorder.in/ideology-masquerading-as-research/


Research Year: 2016 | Category: Education

In India, reforms in regulation of private schools have been argued on the basis of universalizing access to education while recognizing the increasing role of private in enabling that access, particularly for the poor. However, the experience so far has been that the regulations create entry and exit barriers in the provision of education by entrepreneurs thereby reducing competition and keeping the cost of education high. It is in this context that regulation of private education is observed in the case studies to better understand how governments in other parts of the world have managed to harness private investment in education for the benefits of the society in general. The study examines three cases of best practices from around the world:

  1. Regulation of Hagwon/supplemental education centres in South Korea,
  2. Per-child funding model in the Netherlands, and
  3. Punjab Education Foundation in Pakistan.
Research Year: 2016 | Category: Education

The paper examines the current state of funding of school education in India and identifies the inefficiencies and arbitrary nature of allocation of the system and suggests an alternative per-child funding model. The paper argues for the model on the basis of school choice and decentralized school administration, which would result in schools competing to be efficient in spending to attract/maintain students. The paper draws from such existing models in countries like Canada, Netherlands and UK while using the San Francisco School District's model as a detailed case study to further strengthen the argument for such a per-child model of funding.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Education

Budget Private Schools (BPS) are privately-run schools that charge very low fees, operating among the poorer sections of the society and have become relevant to the education discourse of India. Such small schools began mushrooming in the late 1980s across developing countries as alternatives to dysfunctional state-run schools and India was no exception. However, the in the succeeding two decades, BPS contributed heavily to the soaring enrollment rates in private schools. These schools have been referred to in literature as “low-fee private schools”, “affordable private schools” and “private schools for the poor” among others, and are considered an entrepreneurial response to meet urgent education needs by expanding access to the poorest children. Despite lack of infrastructure and facilities, studies over the past decade has shown that learning outcomes in these schools are equal to or better than those of far more resourceful government schools. Despite huge spending over the past decade and more, the government still faces the challenges of millions of out-of-school children, high dropout rates after elementary education and low female enrolment among other things. It is in this context that existing literature on such low-fee charging private schools is being analysed to gain a better understanding of the situation in different parts of India about the achievements, challenges and overarching role of Budget Private Schools (BPS) in India’s school education ecosystem.

Studies published in the late 1990’s to as recent as 2014 have been included in the analysis and this meta-study has attempted to capture as wide a range of issues related to BPS from learning outcomes and regulations to gender problems and questions of equity while trying to maintain as much geographic coverage as possible at the same time. This study aims to understand why parents are increasingly choosing to send their children to BPS even in places with access to government-run schools, how children in BPS are performing relative to government schools and how regulations are affecting the functioning of BPS, besides trying to gain some clarity about the direction in which education in India is headed in this context.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Education

Different state governments of India have notified through Government Orders (GOs) the amount they will pay out for each RTE child admitted, in reimbursement to private schools. For example, Delhi has fixed the reimbursement amount at Rs 1190, Uttarakhand at Rs 860 and Uttar Pradesh at Rs 450 per month per child. These amounts are meant to represent the states’ per pupil expenditure in their respective government elementary (primary + upper primary) schools. However, there has been some doubt and dismay about the accuracy of these estimates, and also some research estimating per pupil expenditures in the different states of India (Dongre et al, 2014; Pritchett and Aiyar, 2014) for the year 2011-12. However, in UP the regularisation of 176,000 para teachers in 2014 has added significantly to its elementary education budget and thus revised estimates of per pupil expenditures are needed.

This short note seeks to estimate the per pupil expenditure in government elementary schools in Uttar Pradesh using the government’s own expenditure and enrolment data.

Disclaimer: This research paper is by Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, UCL Institute of Education, University College London.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Education

The paper reports on existing incentive structures in a sample of government and private schools in Delhi and elicits teachers’ perspectives on factors which motivate them. It is found that performance-related pay and promotions are important monetary incentives for teachers. Recognition, regular evaluation and monitoring and contractual based employment are found to be important non-monetary incentives. Having a large class size, having to teach subjects outside of a teacher’s expertise and performing clerical duties are found to be some significant disincentives for teachers.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Education

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), 2009 ratified education as a fundamental right and seeks to promote equitable access to education for all children up to the age of 14 years. However, the Act focuses almost entirely on school inputs and not on learning outcomes. The lack of a focus on output has been accompanied by poor learning outcomes, increased pressure on government capacity and the implementation of policies that may not necessarily give the returns in terms of improving outcomes. In this paper, we argue for a case to shift the focus of education investment from inputs to outcomes, outlining the recognition norms defined under the RTE. We review the literature available to examine whether a correlation between input norms and learning outcomes exists and make recommendations for an outcomes-focused policy approach to improving the quality of education.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Education

The Union education budget has seen an increase in monetary allocation every year and the enrolment rate across the country has also been largely moving upwards. It becomes important to scrutinise the education budget for 2014-15 to understand how the new government has approached the education sector, especially elementary and secondary education. This paper looks at four major schemes undertaken by the Government of India in the education sector,and identifies trends in state education budgets by analysing data for three sample states—Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Education

This report analyses the current regulatory framework of higher education in India and highlights areas that require important policy reforms in order to encourage greater private participation. This participation would eventually lead to a more competitive environment in the higher education sector and foster growth, which is needed to achieve the target of 10% increase in Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) set by the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP).

India has one of the largest higher education systems in the world, primarily dominated by private players who account for 60% of the total institutes and 64% of total enrolment of students. The higher education sector in India has a three-tier structure comprising the university, college and course. This forms a vital link with the regulatory structure, and with accreditation agencies playing the key role in maintaining quality and standards in this sector.

In addition to some new insights, this report validates the oft-repeated complaints against regulations that govern higher education research in India – that it is opaque, mired in complexity and tough to navigate. A number of recent studies have covered the broad contours of what needs to change, including the 2013 report ‘Higher Education in India: Vision 2030’ by FICCI and E&Y, and the 2006 study by Pawan Agarwal ‘Higher Education in India: the need for change’, conducted under the aegis of ICRIER. This report builds on the existing research and focuses on the following two areas:

  1. The higher education landscape, in terms of the linkages and broad rules governing the three-tier structure of universities, colleges and courses
  2. Specifics of reforms needed in the legislations studied for various kinds of private institutions in this sector. The comparative matrix should serve as a ready-resource on how three states, and the different university/college routes fare on entry, operations and exit barriers for private players.

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Research Year: 2014 | Category: Education