The second annual School Choice National Conference was organised at The Theatre, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India on 18 December 2010. The Conference brought together 13 expert speakers and over 120 delegates comprising of policy makers, academicians, school and NGO leaders, media and the youth to discuss issues, share experiences and formulate a collective plan to advocate for reforms with the government.  

The Conference focus on four broad areas: 

  • Right to Education Act: Opportunities and Challenges

  • Framework of Ideal School Ecosystem

  • Accountability in Education

  • Re‐visioning Indian Education

The Conference also saw the formal release of two CCS publications, View Point 9 and 10. The former is on Skill Vouchers ‐ Global Experiences and Lessons for India and the latter on Reservation in Private Schools under the Right to Education Act: Model for Implementation.

SCHOOL CHOICE NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
The Right to Education Act: Revolutionary, Redundant, or Regressive?
  • 18 Dec 2010
  • 9 am – 6 pm
  • The Theatre, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
  • Certificate of completion
Application Deadline
01 Dec 2010
Closed

Covered Sessions
Session
1
ACCOUNTABILITY IN EDUCATION

owards Informed Choice: School Ratings
This session will provide an overview of the school rating project undertaken by Gray Matters Capital along
with MCril to increase transparency and accountability. Availability of information is key to creating a
transparent and accountable education system. It is essential that stakeholders, especially parents are
armed with relevant information to make decisions about their children’s schooling, and that schools have
information about themselves in order to benchmark themselves against competitors. School rating
systems are important in creating competition amongst schools and address the information gap that
parents face.


Teacher Effort and Teacher Accountability in India
This session will examine the role of teacher effort and teacher accountability in delivering quality
education. In any school ecosystem teachers are the main agents of service delivery and therefore at the
core of any proposal to introduce accountability into the education system. Unless teachers are held
accountable for delivering highquality instruction, all efforts towards reforming the education ecosystem
will be futile. In India, this problem is particularly acute in government schools where there is an absence
of performance based compensation structures and accountability mechanisms.


School Accountability: Models and Practices
The objective of this subsession is to examine how accountability models can be built at the schoollevel
to ensure efficient delivery of quality education. Such accountability models need to include not merely
physical infrastructure requirements but also financial accountability and lowstakes testing to assess
children’s learning levels. The formation of School Management Committees (SMCs) as prescribed by the
RTE Act is a step in this direction but a lot still needs to be done in terms of capacity building in order to
make these SMCs effective.

Session
2
RIGHT TO EDUCATION ACT: CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES

Comparison of State Rules
This session aims to present an overview and analysis of and comparison between the various final and
draft state rules under the RTE Act. An understanding of the state rules is essential since the manner in
which states implement the RTE Act will determine whether the Act will have the envisaged impact. The
nuances of the state rules will determine to a large extent how this implementation will take place. As of
now only two states have come out with their final rules. Most other states are in the process of drafting
their rules.


Monitoring of RTE in Government and Private Schools
The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has been entrusted with the
responsibility of monitoring the RTE Act at the Central level. However, most states are yet to form their
State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights and the monitoring structures at lower levels are even
hazier. This session presents the monitoring processes and structures put in place by NCPCR along with an
outline of the people and hierarchies involved. The monitoring of the RTE Act is an enormous challenge in a
large and diverse country like India. This monitoring will necessarily encompass private schools whose
admission (including admission under 25% reservation) and examination processes require close scrutiny.


Impact of RTE on Alternative Education
Although the RTE Act has been widely discussed and debated, not much attention has been paid to the
impact of RTE Act on alternative education. Currently the schooling system in India covers various
providers of alternative education like National Institute of Open Schooling, NGOs, providers of bridge
courses, etc. who will all be impacted by the RTE Act, mostly negatively. It is necessary to incorporate these
stakeholders as well into the discourse on RTE Act in order to ensure that the legislation does not give with
one hand and take away with another

Speakers
  • Amitav Virmani
    Country Director, Absolute Return for Kids (ARK)

    Amitav Virmani joined ARK in August 2008. Prior to this, he was General Manager in the office of the CEO & Managing Director of Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited (RLL), India’s largest pharmaceutical company. Amitav previously worked with Bristol Myers Squibb spending four years in New Jersey and then moved to India to help set up the Indian office. Amitav is also a Trustee and Manager of two family run schools that serve lesser privileged children in New Delhi. He earned his MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000, after graduating with Honors in Economics from St. Stephens College, New Delhi, India in 1994.

  • Vinod Raina
    Member, Central Advisory Board for Education (CABE)

    A physicist by profession, Vinod Raina is one of the pioneers of the People’s Science Movement in India, having helped set up the All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN) and the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS). He is a founding member of Eklavya, an organization advocating alternative education for more than two decades, and the only NGO whose curriculum was adopted in the state school educational system. He is a member of CABE which drafted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act). He has been a Homi Bhabha Fellow, a Fellow of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, and an Honorary Fellow of the Indian Science Writers Association.

  • Kiran Bhatt
    National Commissioner, Right to Education

    Currently Kiran Bhatty is the National Coordinator, NCPCR. She has also worked with UNICEF as a Consultant. She was part of the team that came out with the much talked about PROBE 1 Report

  • Sitanshu S Jena
    Chairman, National Institute of Open Schooling

    Sitanshu S Jena is a postgraduate from the Utkal University and did his MPhil from the Kuruskhetra University, Haryana. He was awarded the Indian Council for Social Sciences Research doctoral fellowship and completed his Ph.D. in Education from the Institute of Social Economic Change, (ISEC), Bangalore. He joined as one of the faculty members in the school of Education, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi at its initial stage. Subsequently, he worked as Regional Director of the Regional Centres of IGNOU at Shillong, New Delhi, Patna and Bhubaneswar. He also worked as Dean, School of Distance Learning; SVKM’s NMIMS University, Mumbai and helped the institution in establishing its national wide distance learning programmes.

  • Parth J Shah
    President, Centre for Civil Society

    Parth J Shah has conceptualised and organised liberal educational programs for the Indian youth including Liberty & Society Seminars, Jeevika Livelihood Documentary Competition, and Researching Reality Internship Program. He has edited Morality of Markets, Friedman on India, Profiles in Courage: Dissent on Indian Socialism, Do Corporations Have Social Responsibility? and co‐edited Law, Liberty & Livelihood: Making a Living on the Street; Terracotta Reader: A Market Approach to the Environment; BR Shenoy: Theoretical Vision and BR Shenoy: Economic Prophecies and Agenda for Change. Parth is on the editorial board of Education World, Vishleshan, and Khoj, and is informal advisor to many non‐profits. He has taken liberal ideas to numerous national and international workshops and conferences and writes regularly in the popular media. He is the youngest Indian member of the Mont Pelerin Society.

  • Manish Sabharwal
    CEO, TeamLease Services

    Manish Sabharwal is a successful serial entrepreneur having started and successfully exited multiple businesses. He is a co‐founder of TeamLease services ‐ among India’s largest private sector employers. Prior to that, he co‐founded IndiaLife Hewitt (HR services, BPO), ICap India (fixed income and Forex inter dealer) and India Insure Risk Management (an insurance brokerage firm). He has an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

  • Baela Raza Jamil
    Public Policy Specialist and Coordinator

    Baela Raza Jamil is an activist in the education sector and a former technical advisor to the Ministry of Education, Pakistan. She has worked extensively in the areas of quality, community based initiatives for education access and quality, local governance and public‐private partnerships in three continents and across several countries. She has studied comparative education, public policy and economic history at the Institute of Education, University of London, Rosemont College USA, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

  • Monica Grazia Boni
    Direttore Marketing, Incentive e Servizi Allaa Persona, Edenred

    Since 2005, Monica Boni is in charge of the development of public social programs and welfare services at Edenred Italia, branch of the multinational company Edenred. After working for a long time in marketing and communication, she took the responsibility of developing new products and services trough voucher systems (paper, cards and web platforms) for the public benefits enabling their inclusion.

  • Urmila Sarkar
    Chief, Education, UNICEF India Country Office

    Urmila Sarkar began her UN career with the International Labour Organization at its headquarters in 2000 and was charged with the task of developing their global expertise and managing their programmes on using education and training to combat child labour. She transferred to the ILO Asia‐Pacific Office in Bangkok in 2004 to develop and manage the research, policy, operational and knowledge management work related to its largest program portfolio: combating child labour and creating education, training and decent work opportunities for young people. She has authored and supervised many publications and tools in this field.

  • Pradeep Sharma
    Country Director, Gray Matters Capital, India

    Based in Hyderabad, Pradeep Sharma manages programs in the education sector to develop the education ecosystem in India with a focus on affordable private schools (APS). He is responsible for developing a rating system for low cost private schools and scaling it to multiple cities within India to enhance market transparency, to create market intelligence and to set quality standards. By partnering with innovative solution providers, who typically do not find APS segment attractive, he intends to create a sustainable market by aggregating the schools and by creating a platform for commerce such that it leads to a paradigm shift in pedagogy and school management. Pradeep holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines and York University, Toronto, Canada and a Bachelor of Engineering degree from R.V College of Engineering in Bangalore, India.

  • Geeta Gandhi Kingdon
    Professor of Education and International Development, Institute of Education, London University

    Geeta Gandhi Kingdon was until recently a Research Fellow at the Department of Economics, University of Oxford. She lectures in Development Economics and her research interests include Economics of Education, Labour Economics and the Economics of Happiness, mostly in countries of South Asia and Africa. Her work is based on micro‐econometric analysis of survey data and has resulted in more than 25 papers in peer reviewed Economics and Development Economics journals. She is on the Editorial Board of three academic journals and does extensive academic refereeing as well as advisory work for governments and donor agencies.

  • Yamini Aiyar
    Senior Research Fellow and Director, Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research

    Yamini has an MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics, an MA in Social and Political Sciences from St. Edmunds College, Cambridge University, UK and a BA in Philosophy from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. Prior to joining CPR Yamini was working as an independent consultant providing research and policy support to government, international donors and civil society organizations on governance reform with a focus on issues related to strengthening accountability in basic service delivery.

  • T K Mathew
    Secretary and Chief Executive, Deepalaya

    T K Mathew is also the Founder and President of Pradan, professional development organization engaged in rural development with livelihood as the major theme. He has been consultant to the likes of CEVA, Cochin/Kuebel Foundation Germany, ICCO Holland, AMI Italy, PLAN International and many others. He has been awarded Vijaya Gujral Award‐1999 from Vijaya Gujaral Foundation, Dr Ambedkar Smriti Award for upliftment of children in India by Dalit Children’s Education & Development Programme Charitable Trust, the Man of Achievement Award‐1999 by International Publishing House and several other prestigious awards and honours.

  • Gowri Ishwaran
    Educationist and Founder Principal, Sanskriti School, New Delhi

    Recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri Award from the President of India in 2004, Gowri Ishwaran is an innovative educationist with over 30 years of experience in leading schools. She was the Founder Principal of Sanskriti School, New Delhi, an institution that has become one of the leading schools in India within a short span of 10 years. She has also been instrumental in developing, organising and conducting training programmes and seminars, for students and teachers, disseminating her experiences and learnings. A gold medallist and M A in English Literature, she reads extensively and writes for newspapers and magazines.

  • K Satyanarayan
    Director, New Horizon Media

    K Satyanarayan studied at IIT Madras and Cornell University, USA. He was one of the co‐founders of the website cricinfo.com and handled various functions there, ranging from sales & marketing to editorial to operations. After CricInfo and Wisden merged in February 2003, he continued with Wisden CricInfo's Indian operations in Chennai till December 2005, with responsibility for business development and finance. He co‐founded New Horizon Media, a publishing company, in early 2004 with a focus on publishing in Indian languages and is currently a Director there. His longer term interest is to create affordable, sustainable, replicable school education models (K‐12) by working with and around the existing education system, with the goal of providing ample opportunities for every individual to live up to his/her highest potential.