The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 highlights that “The goal of the school education regulatory system must be to continually improve educational outcomes; it must not overly restrict schools, prevent innovation, or demoralise teachers, principals, and students. All in all, regulation must aim to empower schools and teachers with trust, enabling them to strive for excellence and perform at their very best, while ensuring the integrity of the system through the enforcement of complete transparency and full public disclosure of all finances, procedures, and educational outcomes.” At present, State Departments of Education handle all significant functions of governance and regulation of the school education system—provision of public education, regulation of education institutions, and policymaking. To avoid conflict of interests and create a level playing field, we need to set up a State School Standards Authority (SSSA) as recommended in NEP 2020. To understand how the SSSA can take shape to address exact problems in the state, we took a deep dive into the learning progress of Jharkhand and studied the structure of the education administration, its quality of laws, and regulatory pain-points for private schools. Some of our key findings include: 1. 15% of all schools in Jharkhand are unrecognised—the highest in the country. 2. 30% of all government schools in Jharkhand have less than 50 students enrolled. 3. Jharkhand has the highest teacher vacancy at the Secondary (81%) and Higher Secondary (84%) levels in India. 4. 70% of Primary teachers and 58% of Upper Primary teachers in government schools are underqualified. 5. Learning outcomes are abysmally low in government schools: only 11% of students in Grade III and 29% in Grade V can read a Grade II text. 6. Jharkhand has the third-largest percentage (58%) of children taking tuition while enrolled in government schools in rural India. 7. There is no grievance redressal, and dispute resolution mechanism available for staff and parents of children enrolled in government schools. 8. While all primary schools, government and private, in Jharkhand have to be recognised under the RTE Act, the Directorate of Primary Education is responsible for granting recognition to all schools. This creates a conflict of interest given the Directorate also operates its own schools. 9. Schools in Jharkhand cannot raise fees beyond 10% without approval from the District Fee Committee. In case of non-compliance, they can receive a fine of fifty thousand rupees, or worse, be de-recognised.
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