The NAAT Excellence Awards, hosted on 28 April 2018 at the Constitution Club, New Delhi, aimed to recognise the efforts and achievements of the top performers on NAAT assessments. The awards also recognised schools that secured highest enrollments, as a marker of their commitment to fostering greater transparency, a commitment to pursue quality and ensure student learning. The first 12 students were honoured with scholarships supporting the annual cost of their education, and amounting to INR 25,000 each, with an additional 12 students receiving educational tablets. The first cohort of 24 achievers were also enrolled into the National Independent School Alliance (NISA) student mentorship program, bringing them advisory and counsel for their personal, academic, and professional development. The NAAT Excellence Awards were acknowledged in 11 leading digital and print media, such as EduAdvice, Jagran and India Education Diary.
Designed by Gray Matters India, the National Analytical Aptitude Test (NAAT), is a core component of Udaan, a comprehensive program launched by NISA to improve the quality of education delivery and learning in budget private schools in India. The NAAT assesses learning outcomes amongst students from class 3 to 11 on abstract, numerical and verbal reasoning skills that provide the foundational faculties of curricular comprehension and learning. The program integrates student and school assessments, on-going mentorship and scholarships for targeted students, and a comprehensive school improvement program for the participating budget private schools from across the country. NAAT, conducted for the first time in 2017, saw an enrolment 24,826 students across 14 states with the highest participation from Andhra Pradesh (i.e. 11,863 students from 109 schools) followed by Haryana (i.e. 6,078 students from 77 schools), and Telangana (i.e. 3,062 students from 53 schools).
From 20-22 April 2018, we organised the ipolicy of Journalists, our three-day residential policy training designed exclusively for media professionals, at Jim Corbett, Uttarakhand. 22 journalists, selected through a rigorous review from over 82 applicants, participated in the training hosted in partnership with the Atlas Network. We had representatives from popular national media dailies, along with radio, television and digital media like Zee News, The Indian Express, ABP News, Hindustan, Amar Ujala, All India Radio, Doordarshan, Aaj Tak, Hindustan Times, India Today and Lok Sabha TV. Shantanu Gupta, Political Analyst and Author of ‘The Monk Who Became Chief Minister’ was the key speaker at the workshop, along with Dr Amit Chandra, National Coordinator, NISA, Avinash Chandra, Editor, Azadi.me, CCS and Kulbhushan Sharma, President, NISA.
Recognising the critical role played by the media in steering debates in public policy in a democracy like India, the training aimed at introducing journalists to the principles of sound public policy, market-liberal perspectives in social and policy analysis and the challenges of public policy in India.
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Education provisioning in India continues to be predominantly State-driven, with the government being the largest financier, provider and regulator of education in the country, even as the poorest of its people continue to shift preferences towards private institutions of learning. According to Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, private enrollment and schools, both have risen by 16 million and 71,360 respectively for the period 2010-11 to 2014-15. Yet, with the enactment of the RTE Act 2009, excessive emphasis on input-centric norms have stifled private initiative, and threatened the autonomy of these institutions and the individuals that operate them.
To this end, theNational Independent Schools Alliance (NISA) launched the Save Education Campaign on 15 March 2018, along with 130 representatives from different types of private schools from across India. Inaugurated by Gurcharan Das, Author and Trustee, CCS, the mandate of the Campaign was to garner support for the formal memorandum that was submitted to the Hon’ble PMO and Education Minister, demanding policy reforms under twelve heads, including autonomy of schools, ease of opening schools, outcome based regulation, Organised under the banners of National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA), National Coalition for School Education (NCSE) and Parents Forum of India (PFI), the campaign also saw 27 press conferences in 26 cities across 12 states, along with 22 street plays performed across Delhi, Chandigarh and Haryana.
An integral part of the campaign was digital advocacy through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Via Facebook, the campaign was able to achieve 58k impressions and a reach of 45k, with page likes increasing by 20,000 +. Additionally, a tweetchat was organised on 1 April 2018 on Twitter, and the hashtag #SaveEducation trended #1 in India with 25,000+ impressions.
The Campaign culminated with a mass gathering at Ramlila Maidan on 7 April 2018, attended by 65,000+ representatives of 48 associations from 24 states. These included representatives from budget private schools, aided and unaided private schools, catholic minority schools, ICSE schools, among many others. The demonstration was addressed by a panel of 45 speakers including Prof. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, University College London; Kulbhushan Sharma, President, NISA; Dr Amit Chandra, National Coordinator, NISA. The day received wide ranging coverage from established print and media houses such as The Tribune, Dainik Jagran, and Indian Express and Mumbai Mirror.
This March, CCS launched the ‘Faces of Budget Private Schools’, our annual publication on the role and contribution of the BPS sector. This year’s report the experiences of edu-preneurs, school leaders, teachers, and students engaged in the sector and brings to light their challenges within the current system of education. It also evaluates low-cost scale-able models of innovation being implemented throughout the country to improve learning outcomes, healthcare, and holistic development of both, the school and its students. The report features insights from 50 interviews with stakeholders from states such as Delhi, Bengaluru, Punjab, Haryana, Chennai, Coimbatore, Odisha. Telangana, Ahmedabad, Nagaland, Assam, and Kerala.
The launch of the report was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Seetha, Senior Journalists, with eminent speakers Kulbhushan Sharma, President, National Independent Schools Alliance; Vikas Jhunjhunwala, Founder and CEO, Sunshine Schools; Jairaj Bhattacharya, Managing Director, ConveGenius; Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, Chair of Education and International Development, University College London; and 70 participants from within the ecosystem. The panel highlighted the regulatory obstacles that discriminately threaten the education of students studying in low-fee private schools. As Prof Kingdon highlighted, ‘ 94 percent of government schools do not meet regulatory norms. With no threat of closure, these schools continuously neglect learning outcomes. Whereas a majority of low-fee private schools face abrupt closure despite their efforts at quality learning.’
Read our Report on Budget Private Schools 2018 here.
The government today performs five overlapping functions in its provisioning and regulation of education in the country— those of the Policy-maker Financier, Regulator, Assessor, and Provider, resulting in the confounding of responsibilities and accountability, and in systemic challenges in achieving desired objectives related to all the roles. The overlapping functions necessitate, at the minimum, a separation of the role of regulation and assessment from all the other roles.
Centre for Civil Society (CCS) hosted the Policy Roundtable on Separation of Roles in Education at the University of Chicago Centre, New Delhi on 20 March 2018. Chaired by Shri Anil Swarup, Secretary, Department of School Education & Literacy, MHRD, the roundtable brought together key stakeholders in education, including prominent educationists, practitioners, investors and policy experts to discuss the need for a systemic reform by separating the government’s role as a policy-maker, provider and regulator of education.
Our participants included Prof. Marmar Mukhopadhyay, Former Director, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA); Kiran Bhatty, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research (CPR); Shailaja Chandra, Former Chief Secretary of Delhi, among others.
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This March, in collaboration with the Vedica Scholars Programme for Women, we began a 35-hour intensive program on ‘Introduction to Public Policy’ with a cohort of 70 young leaders. The course elaborates on public policy in India and its linkages with various disciplines of study, such as law, business, economics, and media. The seminar courses are crafted in accordance with international trends in policy training and host a diverse faculty comprising of academicians and practitioners. Ourdistinguished faculty includes Prashant Narang, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi; Smriti Parsheera, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy; Bhuvana Anand, Governance and Public Policy Specialist; Yugank Goyal, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean (Research), Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities. Offered as a part of the formal curriculum in leading universities, our credit courses are designed offer unique insights that bridge academic rigour with policy analysis.
CCS has consistently campaigned for governmental action to repeal redundant and inconsistent laws that promote red tapism and encumber personal, social and economic freedoms. As part of this initiative, in partnership with the Maharashtra National Law University in Mumbai, we launched the Maharashtra Repeal Law Compendium, a rigorously researched repository of obsolete laws in the state of Maharashtra. The event was marked by a panel discussion on good governance and the need for the institutionalisation of a judicial audit. Our eminent speakers included N. J. Jamadar (Principal Secretary, Department of Law & Judiciary, Government of Maharashtra), Bhawani Prasad Panda (Vice Chancellor, MNLU) and Sadashiv S Deshmukh, (Registrar, MNLU).
Spontaneous Order, our digital publication featuring liberal commentaries, conducted its second ‘Spontaneous Dialogue’ this month on ‘Looking Beyond the Binaries of Aadhaar’. This edition of the web-series featured eminent speakers Smriti Parsheera (Researcher, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy), Ronald Abraham (Partner, IDinsight), and chaired by Parth Shah (Founder President, CCS). The discussion between our panelists analyzed the Aadhaar system’s merits and demerits, and explored the policy as a tool for bettering the present mechanism of dissemination of subsidies. The speakers also exchanged views on the larger issue of privacy and the misuse of Aadhaar as a tool of surveillance.
The dialogue series live-streamed on Facebook, aims to offer impartial and factual perspectives aims to offer impartial and factual perspectives on contemporary issues, conveyed in the form of rational deliberations between experts across ideological and academic spectrum.
Through our ‘CCS on Campus’ initiative, we reach out to young students and future leaders across the country by way of policy dialogues conducted by members of our eminent faculty. During the 2-3 hour sessions, we encourage students to contest and debate learned presumptions on contemporary political and socio-economic concerns of the nation. This February and March we successfully engaged 495 students in four cities to explore the foundations of a free, prosperous, and just society.
This February we hosted Christopher Lingle, Visiting Professor of Economics at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala, who addressed students at Ashoka University, Delhi Metropolitan Education (University in Noida), O. P. Jindal Global University, and Sharda University. Dr Lingle addressed the emerging market economics, challenges in public policy, and development in Asia.
Avinash Chandra, (Editor, Azadi.me) engaged students of media studies from Swami Vivekanand Subharti University (Meerut) and the International Institute for Media and Films (Jaipur) for a discussion on ‘The Law’ by Frédéric Bastiat. The hindi translation of the book was released by CCS in January 2018 to make Bastiat’s pivotal ideas on the excesses of governmental intervention and the inevitable perversion of law accessible to the Hindi readership in India and abroad.
Shantanu Gupta, Political Analyst and Author of 'The Monk Who Became Chief Minister', discussed with 30 Chief Minister Good Governance Associates and Staff at Ashoka University on ‘Education: Voice, Choice and Incentives’. The session focused on understanding the current education landscape in the nation and the challenges it faces. The participants were encouraged to think about creative and effective policy interventions for the same.
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