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August 2015  FB Twitter Linkedin Blog Youtube 
 
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Editorial

Dear CCS Friends,

After having championed the cause of school choice for over 10 years, 2015 started off on a good note for CCS—In March, I was appointed to lead the school education taskforce of the Delhi Dialogue Commission and in June I was invited to be member of the education taskforce of the Karnataka Knowledge Commission. Both these taskforces are working towards ambitious School Transformation Plans.

However, many developments in education policy this quarter have been disappointing: The Karnataka government has formed committees to strictly enforce the College and School Fees and Admission Regulation Act, 2006. The neighbouring Tamil Nadu is doing the same. The Delhi government wants to regulate fees and admissions in Delhi schools. The fever of school fee regulation is sweeping the country. Governments and activists are confusing consumer complaint with system complaint. I am often angry at my telco but do I want to go back to the days of BSNL? The first step towards reforms is financial transparency in schools. All schools submit their annual audited accounts to government; please put those in public domain. Let there be informed debate about the ‘surplus’ amassed by schools rather than uninformed opinions shaping the future of our education system.

These same governments are using all their might to enforce the 25% quota for weaker sections in private schools. Most of these governments have not paid for these seats to private schools in the last five years as per the law. Many don’t even intend to pay; only a few states have earmarked any money for the 25% seats in their budget. The 75% parents are expected to cover the cost of the 25% students. Are all 75% parents equally rich to subsidise the rest? In my estimate, and there is no solid data on this, about 10-25% parents are lower middle class, cutting down other necessities of life so that their kids go to English medium schools. The governments’ refusal to transparently implement the legally mandated reimbursement is undermining what could have been world’s largest voucher program.

If this wasn't enough, I heard Barkha Dutt on We the People while discussing child labour say, "Oh we don't have neighbourhood schools like in the US where everyone gets same quality education." She is apparently unaware that the US is moving away from the concept of neighbourhood schools. One US state (Nevada) just passed a universal choice program where parents can spend the money given by the government wherever they think their children would get the most benefit--in government schools, private schools, tuition classes, online tutorials, etc. The money they don't spend remains in their child’s education account and they can use it next year or anytime later, as long as it is for the specific student's education.

The Union government has announced the formulation of a National Education Policy (NEP) that will set the course for the next 10-20 years. This provides us with an important opportunity to influence the next generation of reforms that we believe will set Indian education on an exponential growth path. We need to monitor, support and where possible, directly engage with these efforts to ensure that policy focuses on learning outcomes, choice for parents, accountability of government institutions for performance, and openness to private initiatives in education.

We count on your support to help our government do the right thing!

In liberty,

Parth
 

Highlights

POLICY WINS

Parth chairing a panel during the Bamboo investors summit in Bhopal

Bamboo Policy: We met with Prakash Javadekar (Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change) and presented our recommendations to amend bamboo policy under the Indian Forest Act 1927 and also presented the same at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Bamboo Investors’ Summit which was held in partnership with the Madhya Pradesh State Bamboo Mission in Bhopal.
 

Research

  1. Teacher Incentives - Evidence from Schools in Delhi: This study examines the relationship between various incentive structures and teacher motivation in government and private schools in Delhi. It finds that performance-related pay, promotions, regular evaluation and contractual employment improve teacher motivation, whereas large class sizes and performing clerical duties affect teacher motivation negatively.
  2. Effectiveness of School Input Norms under the Right to Education Act, 2009: This paper outlines the case for shifting the focus of education investment from inputs to outcomes, by focusing on the recognition norms defined under the RTE Act. It reviews the literature 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.
  3. Regulatory Barriers to Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs): This paper studies the overall effect of the business, policy and legal/regulatory environment on the growth of MSMEs, and finds that significant 'over-legislation', both at the central and state level, coupled with the scattered nature of regulations have led to high entry barriers, overwhelming tax and labour compliances, and lack of a defined exit process. It concludes with a set of policy recommendations to improve the situation, and correspondingly India’s rank in the Doing Business Index.
  4. Property Rights of Street Vendors: This study examines the evolution of property rights for Street Vendors in India, tracing the numerous judgments of the Supreme Court and High Court to recognize their rights and shape up a statutory regime. It finds that although the situation improved with respect to the recognition of their rights, a lot remains to be done.
  5. Criminalizing Cheque Bounce Cases – An effective remedy? This paper reviews whether criminalising cheque bounce cases have been an effective remedy. It also studies the penalties imposed in other countries against cheque bounce offenders and analyses their effective implementation in India.

IDEAS WINS

Students with their Vikalp vouchers during their training

Skill Vouchers: We participated in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship consultation and presented the Vikalp model. The ministry is launching a skill card scheme along the lines of Skill vouchers; PM Narendra Modi made an announcement to this effect on 15 July. We have also been invited onto BARTI’s expert panel on skill development along with KPMG. This year we plan to distribute 1,700 skill vouchers through under Vikalp (1,500 supported by BARTI, 100 by TATA Motors and HDFC Foundation each). Implementation of this phase has begun in Mumbai & Pune with 500 vouchers currently being distributed in each city.

Amitabh Kant of DIPP endorses Amit Chandra’s articles on MSMEs on Twitter

Ease of Doing Business: An op-ed on Scroll.in by Amit Chandra and Swati Madan on Medium and Small Enterprises titled 'What is missing from Modi's Make in India Plan: thinking small', led to a meeting with Amitabh Kant (Secretary of Industrial Policy & Promotion DIPP), during which they shared their 98 point agenda and asked CCS  for our feedback, and ideas on how the government can publicise this effort as being pro-markets and people, and not pro-business.

Book Launch of Meera Mitra’s Breaking Through, which features chapters on our work in Delhi (School Vouchers) and Rajasthan (Street Vendors)

Celebrating Success: We were featured in sociologist Meera Mitra’s recent book ‘Breaking Through: India's Stories of Beating the Odds on Poverty. It contains “individual, representational stories of innovation, endeavour, struggle and 'success'”, and has dedicated chapters on our School Vouchers for Girls Pilot (Delhi) and Jeevika Livelihood Campaign (Rajasthan).

PEOPLE WINS

Participants during the ìpolicy course at St Stephen’s University

ìpolicy, Certificate Course in Public Policy: We engaged 86 young leaders through four-day partnership programs with St Stephen’s College, Delhi and Nirma College, Ahmedabad on  the fundamentals of political economy and sound public policy through 'comparative institutional analysis'. Noted economist David Friedman (Santa Clara University), author and public intellectual Gurcharan Das, President of The Glocal University Amir Ullah Khan, and Shreekant Gupta, Professor at Delhi School of Economics & Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy were speakers at these programs).

Professor David Friedman discusses ‘Law without the State’ with a packed audience during his talk at the University of Chicago Centre in Delhi

David Friedman’s India Tour: One of the world’s most eloquent American economist, physicist, legal scholar, and libertarian theorist, David Friedman visited India in June. We organised networking events in Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore with high profile guests & intellectuals and two public talks on “Law without the State” at the University of Chicago Centre in Delhi and on “Digital Content, Intellectual Property & Innovation” at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

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