Chapter VI: School Education
6.1 Structure and Delivery of School Education
6.1.1 The broad pattern of school education in India has been described in the earlier part of the report; in this section some critical issues relating to structural organization of schools and their impact on cost of education, and its quality are discussed.
6.1.2 There has been massive expansion of school education in India in the last few decades. There are 15 lakh schools in the country as per DISE data for 2014-15. Government owns and manages nearly 75% of elementary, 43% of secondaryand 40% of higher secondary schools, the remaining are privately owned and managed. There are 25.95 crore children enrolled in school education, including19.77 crore at elementary level; 3.83 crore at secondary level; and 2.35 crore athigher secondary level (U-DISE 2014-15). Enrolment in private unaided elementary and secondary schools is around 33% each; and 39% at higher secondary level. Private unaided and aided schools account for nearly 42% of the enrolment in the school sector (grades I-XII).
6.1.3 School education in India is provided mostly in small schools. Nearly 33% of all schools taken together have less than 50 students and 54% less than 100. About 77% of schools have less than 200 students. The proportion of small schools in the government sector is relatively higher than in private. The preponderance of small schools not only affects quality of teaching and learning, but also makes school education inequitable, and expensive in terms of per pupil expenditure. Such schools are neither academically nor financially viable.
6.1.4 Several studies have established that basic infrastructure facilities like availability of class rooms, toilets, and drinking water impact attendance, retention, and quality of learning. The RTE Act lays down the minimum physical and academic infrastructure for a school. Unfortunately, most Government schools, and a large proportion of private schools do not fulfil the norms prescribed by the RTE Act. At elementary level, only 6 out of 10 children enrolled in Grade I reach Grade VIII, 47% children drop out by the time they reach Grade X. Dropout rates for SC/ST and girl students are generally higher. Thus, while there has been improvement in school infrastructure in many states due to initiatives taken under SSA, the overall condition is far from satisfactory. It is not as though conditions are any better at the secondary school level – a matter of equal concern.
6.1.5 The delivery of school education through small, non-viable schools with low enrolment, inadequate teachers, poor facilities and high per pupil cost has adversely impacted the quality of school education in the country. The Committee therefore recommends that the focus of development of school education must now shift from physical expansion to consolidation of existing school system. The Committee recommends that each State undertake a detailed exercise of school mapping to identify schools with low enrolment and inadequate infrastructure.
6.1.6 Wherever possible, efforts should be made to convert existing non-viable schools into composite schools for better academic performance and cost effective management. It will be easier to consolidate, improve infrastructure and provide more teachers when smaller schools located in the same neighbourhood are merged. Ideally, when schools are merged they should be located in the same campus as the secondary/senior secondary school. At other places where very small schools are to be merged with other schools, students will need to be provided transport facility through School Management Committees. With merger and consolidation, teacher availability will improve due to redeployment, and it will also be possible to appoint full time principal/headmaster for schools with viable student population. It will also be possible to provide better sports infrastructure, computer and science labs, and facilities for extracurricular activities. More than the infrastructure availability, children benefit from the sense of belonging in a school, which is well staffed and better equipped. The Committee was informed that some states like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat have started the process of consolidation, which is yielding good results. The Committee, therefore, recommends that Centre in consultation with States should issue common guidelines for mergers and consolidation without diluting the spirit of easy access laid down by RTE Act.
6.1.7 The Committee is of the view that the consolidation referred to above will enable the country to achieve one class – one teacher norm in a foreseeable future.
6.1.8 The Committee also recommends expansion of open schooling facilities to enable dropouts and working children to pursue education without attending formal schools. The Committee has elsewhere made detailed recommendations for creation of skill schools for improving employment opportunities for high school students.
6.2 Teacher Management
6.2.1 The teacher is the fulcrum around which school education revolves; it is rightly said that an education system is as good as its teachers. While many initiatives have been taken in the last few decades to improve the process of teacher recruitment, transfers, deployment, and competencies, the system, by and large, continues to be chaotic, and not capable of providing good quality school education.
6.2.2 There are more than 80 lakh teachers in elementary schools, and more than 20 lakh in secondary and higher secondary schools in the country. Around59% of elementary teachers are in government schools; and yet, around 8% of allelementary schools in the country are single teacher schools.
6.2.3 Indian society and culture has traditionally accorded a position of great respect to teachers. They were respected for their knowledge, wisdom and commitment to their students. Unfortunately teachers have, during the last 30-40 years, have lost that respect, and are not now seen in very favourable light. The Committee believes there is no possibility of improving the quality of our school education unless we restore the credibility of our teachers.
6.2.4 There are many teacher related issues in our school education which need to be addressed. Some of these are:
(a) Teacher Shortages
6.2.5 It is estimated that there is a shortage of more than 5 lakh teachers in elementary schools; nearly 14% of Government secondary schools do not have the prescribed minimum 6 teachers. Typically teacher vacancies are more in tribal areas and far off villages where teachers are reluctant to be posted due to inadequate facilities.
(b) Teacher Absenteeism
6.2.6 Teacher absenteeism has plagued our school system for many years. Teachers are unionized and politically influential as a result of which there is neither political will nor administrative initiative to remedy the situation. Some states are trying to address the malaise by strict vigilance and monitoring, and use of mobile phones and bio-metric attendance recording, but the situation is far from satisfactory.
(c) Teacher Recruitment and Transfers
6.2.7 Teacher recruitment and transfers have become a major source of corruption in many parts of the country. Some states are trying to address the problem by introducing transparent and merit-based processes but elsewhere this remains a blot on the school education system.
(d) Teacher Grievances
6.2.8 There are thousands of cases filed by teachers and pending in courts, mainly concerning their service conditions. Lack of efficient systems to address teacher grievances has affected teacher morale. There is also resentment among teachers against their deployment for several non-academic activities in spite of injunction of the RTE Act.
(e) School Leadership: Role of Headmaster/Principal
6.2.9 Till recently most states did not have an independent position of Headmaster in primary schools; one of the teachers was given additional responsibility of Headmaster. While Government secondary schools did have the post of principal, many remained vacant for years due to delays in recruitment, litigation and administrative apathy. Lack of effective leadership in Government schools has contributed to indiscipline among students and teachers and falling academic standards.
(f) Teacher Education and Training
6.2.10 This has been discussed in another section of the report; suffice to say here that majority of teachers lack adequate subject knowledge and required teaching skills which has resulted in poor quality of classroom transaction and learning levels.
6.2.11 The Committee is convinced that unless there is a competent and committed cadre of teachers, quality of school education cannot improve. The Committee feels there is an urgent need to address the above major issues relating to teacher shortages, absenteeism, recruitment and transfers, teacher grievances, and professional development of teachers in a comprehensive and effective manner. Some directions to approach these objectives are referred to below.
6.3 Teacher Education, Deployment and Professional Development
6.3.1 The poor quality of school education is a direct result of poor quality of teacher education and teacher training. Teaching which was at one time considered a noble profession is no longer the career choice of our youth, particularly in urban India. Students with better scores at higher secondary and graduate level prefer engineering, medical, management, and commerce courses and generally those who do not get admission in any of these courses join B.Ed. as a last resort.
6.3.2 In their interactions in different parts of the country, the Committee was told time and again of the poor quality of our B.Ed. courses. The one year programme did not equip the future teacher either with subject knowledge, nor teaching skills. For many years B.Ed. degrees could be obtained by correspondence courses until these were shut down. The quality of most other colleges offering B.Ed. programmes was far from satisfactory. State Governments and NCTE became partners in proliferation of such colleges which were nothing but degree shops.
6.3.3 The condition of Primary Teachers Training Colleges has been no better. For many years eligibility for admission to such course was 10th pass and after one year diploma these teachers could teach students of 7th and even 8th! Even today the entry level eligibility for a primary school teacher is only 12th pass, graduation is required for teaching in upper primary level. The rapid expansion of primary education and demand for teachers led to mushroom growth of sub- standard diploma colleges, and many teachers certified by these colleges became teachers in Government primary schools.
6.3.4 For the last 3-4 decades, Government schools have employed teachers with low academic achievement, and inadequate pre-service training. It is only recently that RTE Act has laid down graduation as entry level qualification for teachers of upper primary sections, and NCTE has prescribed compulsory 2 year B.Ed. course which would result in Government schools getting better quality teachers in future; till then the system will have to depend on in-service training of lakhs of not-so-proficient existing teachers for improving learning standards in Government schools.
6.3.5 Our education system has paid a heavy price for neglect of teacher education. The Committee feels that some drastic, even unpopular measures will need to be taken to improve the quality of teacher education and teachers.
6.3.6 Regional Colleges of Education used to offer 4-year integrated teacher education program after 12th. Delhi University and Institute of Teacher Education Gujarat offer similar programmes with good results. The Committee feels that the time has come when integrated 4-year BA/BSc/B.Ed. courses should be introduced in all States. The advantage of this is that the student has to make an affirmative career choice for teaching, the course will be strong in subject content and students will acquire pedagogical skills along with subject knowledge. State Governments should gradually convert existing B.Ed. to integrated courses by offering preferential employment to such graduates.
6.3.7 The Committee also recommends that the possibility of introducing 5-year integrated course after Std X for elementary school teachers, and 5-year course after12th for higher secondary teachers should be explored. An advanced one-yeardiploma course for secondary teachers may be prescribed to enable them to teach in higher secondary classes.
6.3.8 For hilly, tribal and inaccessible areas, alternative models of pre-service training need to be explored to improve the quality of teachers. DIETs in these areas can run 5-year courses (or 10+3) exclusively for girls after Std. VIII, with full financial support and job assurance, to address the problem of teacher shortages in these areas.
6.3.9 The Committee recommends that for entry in existing B.Ed. courses, there should be minimum eligibility condition of 50% marks in graduation. The Committee recommends strict application of TET for recruitment of all teachers. Centre andStates should jointly lay down norms and standards for TET.
6.3.10 For existing teachers, Committee recommends 2-month compulsory vacation training every five years.
6.3.11 The Committee has recommended elsewhere that learning outcomes for each class should be laid down and evaluated by periodic internal and external assessments. Teachers should be held accountable for failure to achieve learning outcomes within a prescribed time frame.
6.3.12 The Committee also recommends compulsory licensing or certification for teachers of Government and private schools based on independent external testing, every 10 years, to ensure continuing minimal standards in teacher performance.
6.3.13 SCERTs have to play a critical role in teacher training. Most SCERTs and DIETs do not have the required capability for this. The Committee strongly feels that SCERTs, DIETS, BRCs and CRCs should be strengthened by induction of education experts and capacity-building. The Committee was informed that there are large number of vacancies in SCERTs and its formations which have not been filled for many years.
6.3.14 Another issue affecting functioning of SCERTs, DIETs, BRCs, etc. is that there is no separate academic cadre for teacher trainers. Officers working as DEOs and DPEOs, which are coveted administrative posts, often get posted to DIETs which they consider as a punishment. There is a need to have a separate academic cadre for teacher trainers. Ideally teacher trainers should have the same qualifications as college lecturers, and enjoy the same pay scales. Committee also feels that minimum teaching experience should be prescribed for appointment as teacher trainers.
6.3.15 In order to strengthen the structure of teacher training, the Committee also recommends that good B. Ed colleges and University departments should be used for in-service training of teachers.
6.3.16 The Committee recommends that Teachers Unions and Associations should be encouraged to take up academic responsibilities, and to contribute effectively to curriculum and text book development.
6.3.17 The key to making improvement in learning standards is to invest in preparing better qualified and professionally trained teachers who will be result- oriented and accountable. This area has not been addressed for too long. These are measurable objectives, but unless bench-marks are prescribed for achieving incremental progress from year to year, things are unlikely to improve. Strategies need to be evolved and targets set for improvement in these aspects.
6.3.18 While some states have taken commendable initiatives to streamline the process of recruitment of teachers, the Committee feels that the Centre and States should come together to formulate norms and guidelines to prescribe processes which are efficient, transparent and merit based for recruitment of teachers in schools. Tamil Nadu has had for many years an independent Teachers Recruitment Board and the Committee was informed about its satisfactory performance. Since every state has to recruit large numbers of teachers every year, the Committee recommends creation of separate Teacher Recruitment Commissions like the Public Service Commission for recruitment of teachers, principals and other academic and management cadres in education institutions. The Committee also recommends that for elementary schools, district cadres should be created for better management.
6.3.19 The Committee feels that after consolidation of non-viable schools, it will be easier to fill up vacancies of headmasters and principals. The Committee recommends leadership training for all HMs and principals.
6.3.20 The Centre and States also need to jointly develop norms for fair and equitable deployment of teachers to ensure that vacancies, if any, are equitably distributed across the state. Shorter tenures and other incentives will need to be offered for postings in tribal, remote and inhospitable areas.
6.3.21 The Committee was impressed by the system adopted by several states for many years in the matter of teacher transfers. Norms for transfers are laid down, applications for transfers invited, and approval given in transfer camps attended by applicants and in the presence of local officials, non officials and media in an open and transparent manner.
6.3.22 The Committee feels that norm based, open, transparent and merit based systems for recruitment and transfers will not only reduce corruption but also improve teacher morale and credibility of school education.
6.3.23 The Committee feels that strong political and administrative will is needed to improve teacher attendance and discipline. Absenteeism and indiscipline have to be handled with utmost strictness. SMCs and headmasters will also need to be empowered to take disciplinary action against errant teachers. States need to follow injunctions of RTE Act and not depute teachers for any non academic activity other than census, election and disaster relief permitted by that Act.
6.3.24 The Committee recommends that Centre and States should jointly prepa re norms and guidelines for teacher accountability. The Committee has elsewhere recommended that learning outcomes for each class should be formulated, and monitored through internal and external evaluations. Teachers and headmasters should be held accountable for achieving the prescribed outcomes, and their career progression linked to their academic performance.
6.3.25 Elsewhere, in the context of tracking student outcomes on a continuous basis in schools, a recommendation has been made for creation of live databases so as to facilitate teaching and learning assessments at school level. Structures should be created to integrate student outcomes and relate them to teacher performance – this should be the predominant criterion for making teachers accountable for th eir performance, after controlling for school quality and demographics.
6.3.26 The Committee has also recommended elsewhere the need to create settingup of education tribunals to redress teacher’s grievances.
6.3.27 Teacher absenteeism, teacher vacancies, and lack of teacher accountability have destroyed the credibility of our school education system. These issues can be resolved only with strong political consensus; all efforts would otherwise be ineffective. The Committee therefore recommends formulation of a national agenda and commitment to address these issues.
6.7 No Detention Policy
6.7.1 The no-detention policy has been in effect since the coming into force of the RTE Act in 2010. Section 30 (1) of the RTE Act provides that “no child shall be required to pass any Board examination till completion of elementary education.” Under this policy, no child can be held back or expelled from school until the end of Class 8, when he attains the age of 14 and passes out of the purview of the RTE Act.
6.7.2 In its interactions with officials and experts in the field of school education, the Committee heard several arguments both in favour of and against retention of the no-detention policy. These are summarised below.
(a) Arguments in Favour of the No-Detention Policy
6.7.3 In favour of retaining the policy, it was stated that detaining children at the elementary level damages their self-esteem and give them a permanent inferiority complex. The older student feels humiliated and embarrassed being among students who are junior to him. The social stigma associated with “failing”, has deeply damaging effects on the psyche of the child.
6.7.4 Fear of any kind, including that of failing in examinations and being detained, has a detrimental effect on curricular learning for children. Detention leads to children dropping out of school and taking to vagrancy, begging and petty crime. On the other hand, keeping children in school prevents a host of social problems, including juvenile delinquency and child marriage.
6.7.5 A child who is detained has to repeat the entire syllabus of that class, including material which he has already learnt. After having been detained, given appropriate effort from the teacher, the child may be able to cover the gaps in that class in two or three months and be fit to be promoted, but will nevertheless be forced to continue for another nine months in the same class, repeating the syllabus which he already knows.
6.7.6 Learning takes place in a continuum and any pass or fail categorization at a particular point of time is a narrow simplification and educationally invalid.
6.7.7 In rural areas and among below-poverty-line families, educational awareness is missing. Late admission to school is a common phenomenon and the default option is for children to drop out of school if they are left to their own devices. In some cases, children miss school for long periods due to poverty, illness, engagement in child labour or lack of awareness on the part of the parents. They lag behind in their studies and do badly in examinations. Detention will only aggravate these weaknesses and encourage them to drop out and remain unschooled forever. The no-detention policy addresses such issues.
6.7.8 The no-detention policy has resulted in a fall in the drop-out rates in elementary school and has kept children in the learning cycle for 8 years. A comparison of the results of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and other State Boards’ for class 10 and class 12 for the years 2009, 2012 and 2013, shows that the pass percentage has increased in respect of most of the States. Similarly, the pass percentage of students of CBSE for class 12 continues to remain high. This empirically validates the utility of the no-detention policy.
6.7.9 Empirically, there has been a steady rise in the GER at the elementary level, for both boys and girls, as well as for Scheduled Caste s, Tribes and other marginalised sections since the coming into effect of the no-detention policy. In a deeply fragmented society such as India, this is a significant gain which should not be reversed.
(b) Arguments against the No-Detention Policy
6.7.10 As against this, it was argued that automatically promoting all children to the next class takes away all incentive for them to learn or for teachers to teach. The RTE Act requires that even a student who scores zero in all subjects or has not attended school even for a single day has to be promoted to the next class. It is important to maintain the link between promotion and learning outcomes, objectively measured through criteria such as attendance, test scores or examinations at the end of every class.
6.7.11 When children are assured of promotion to the next class regardless of their performance they become non-serious, inattentive to studies and irregular in attendance. For many students, the mid-day meal is the only incentive to go to school. Teachers too soon lose interest in teaching such non-receptive and unmotivated students. Consequently, while the no-detention policy has certainly resulted in a significant increase in student enrolment, there has been little or no improvement in academic standards or the quality of education.
6.7.12 Moreover, promoting laggards drags down the standard of the whole class handicaps the teacher’s ability to teach the curriculum at the expected pace. Students, who are promoted to a higher class without academic validation simply on the basis of the no-detention policy, do not have the required educational competence, knowledge and skill to understand the lessons being taught in the higher class. Not having mastered the syllabus of the previous class, they find it difficult to understand what is being taught and end up by disturbing the class. They tend to fare even more badly and fall back even further in every class.
6.7.13 This comment stresses the great importance of ensuring that the child learns the fundamentals of language (mother-tongue) and basic arithmetic in the primary classes. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Failure to do this will increase the pressure and tension on the child, drift him farther as he advances in the school system from the acceptable levels, at some point leading him to hate the school system.
6.7.14 On the other hand, the brighter students feel frustrated as the pace of the class is determined by the ability of its least competent members. The academic progress of the whole class is hampered and dragged down to the level of the lowest common denominator. This is not fair to the majority of the students in the class.
6.7.15 Moreover, the apparent reduction in the drop-out rate is an artificial construct and illusion created by the no-detention policy. Promoting children automatically only rolls over and postpones the problem of children dropping out of school. The drop-out rate tends to get bunched and shoots up in Class 8 at the end of the elementary stage of education.
6.7.16 A large number of teachers in Government schools strongly disapprove of the no-detention policy and feel that, instead of helping children, it has ruined the entire learning environment by letting children take promotion for granted. In the past few years, the number of students failing their Class 9 examinations has been on the increase in many States. In Delhi, for instance, the number of repeating students as a percentage of total students enrolled in Class 9 rose from 2.8% in2010 to 13.4% in 2014.
6.7.17 Many States have sought a review of the no-detention policy. The Government of Delhi NCR has proposed that the no-detention policy be limited up to Class 3. The State Governments of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim and Tripura have requested that the policy be reviewed in representations to the Sub-Committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) which was constituted to assess the implementation of the CCE.
(c) Committee’s Views
6.7.18 After careful and intensive consideration of the pros and cons, the Committee is of the view that the no-detention policy should be continued, but only till the primary stage of elementary education, up to Class 5, when the child will be 11 years old. There is merit in the view that the child should not be saddled with the burden of failure and detention up to this age. Education should be inclusive and should have a common curriculum, so that all children are familiar with the basic concepts, tenets, principles and ethos of an Indian education.
6.7.19 At the upper primary stage, from Class 5 to 8, for children between the ages of 11 and 14, the Committee recommends that the system of detention of children who are below the requisite minimum standard should be reinstated. This will require a suitable amendment to Section 30 (1) of the RTE Act.
6.7.20 The Committee reiterates that this change should not be seen as being in any way regressive or as taking away a legal right which had been earlier accorded to children. On the contrary, detention should be resorted to after giving the child remedial coaching and at least two extra chances to prove his capability.
6.7.21 Specifically, on the basis of CCE and an end of term examination, the weak students should be identified and provided remedial teaching at the end of the school day or during holidays. The coaching should be conducted by the class teacher in the class-room after school hours. The student should thereafter be assessed and tested on his knowledge and understanding of the course material. If he fails to clear the bar, the process should be repeated, focussing specifically on areas where he is deficient. Should he again fail to clear the examination, he should be either detained in the same class or given other opportunities of pursuing his education through a vocational stream.
6.7.22 Separately it should be explored whether the advances in technology will provide an additional ‘augmentation’ avenue to help the slow-learner child make- up for lost ground. Elsewhere in the report possibilities and practical utilization of these are explored.
6.7.23 It is important to give the child adequate academic support and ample opportunity to demonstrate his ability and competence. However, if he is unable to do so, he should not be abandoned by the system, but should have avenues of learning and betterment made available to him in an alternative stream.
6.7.24 The Committee recommends that the no-detention policy should be continued, but only till the primary stage of elementary education, up to Class 5, when the child will be 11 years old. At the upper primary stage, from Class 5 to 8, for children between the ages of 11 and 14, the Committee recommends that the system of detention of children who are below the requisite minimum standard should be restored. This will require a suitable amendment to Section 30 (1) of the RTE Act.
6.7.25 The Committee reiterates that this change should not be seen as being in any way regressive or as taking away a legal right which had been earlier accorded to children. On the contrary, detention should be resorted to only as a last resort and after giving the child remedial coaching and at least two extra chances to prove his capability.
6.7.26 Specifically, on the basis of CCE and an end-of-term examination, the weak students should be identified and provided remedial teaching at the end of the school day or during holidays, for which new arrangements are to be created within the school system. The remedial teaching could be conducted by the school teachers or volunteers after school hours. The student should thereafter be assessed and tested on his knowledge and understanding of the course material. If he fails to clear the bar, the process should be repeated, focussing specifically on areas where he is deficient. Should he again fail to clear the examination, he should be either detained in the same class or given other alternative opportunities of pursuing education.
6.7.27 Separately it should be explored whether the advances in technology will provide an additional ‘augmentation’ to help the slow-learners make-up for lost ground.
6.8 Need to Amend the RTE Act, 2009
6.8.1 The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE Act) was passed in 2009 and implemented from 1st April 2010. The Act, even after six years, has been only partially implemented in most states.
6.8.2 The Act undoubtedly confers the right to every child for schooling, and surely has contributed to enhancement in ‘enrolment’. However, it has been criticized for focusing largely on creation of physical and academic infrastructure, but not addressing the larger issue of improving quality of learning, particularly in Government and aided schools. Experience of last 50 years shows that creation of good facilities and infrastructure does not necessarily result in better quality of education. The Act fails to make any provision which would directly improve learning outcomes of students.
6.8.3 The Act lays down stringent norms and standards which a new school must fulfil before it can get recognition. Existing schools have been given 3 years to fulfil norms, but the Committee was told that many private schools, located in slums and other congested areas, will not be able to do so because there is no space for building additional rooms or providing a playground. Such schools, even if they are providing good quality of education to poor children could face threat of closure. The Committee is of the view that recognition of a school should not depend only on availability of physical infrastructure, but also on assessment of quality of education provided by schools, to be determined by an independent system. The Committee recommends a greater degree of flexibility to be given to States to evolve norms of recognition, taking into account local conditions. India is a vast and divergent country and one set of norms cannot be applied rigidly and uniformly.
6.8.4 It has been rightly pointed out that the norms and standards for recognition have been laid down only for private schools. The Committee observed that in many states Government schools do not have adequate rooms, toilets, drinking water and other facilities; there is shortage of teachers and many teacher vacancies; and therefore the requirement of recognition of schools should also be prescribed by law for all Government schools. The Committee is of the view that Government should in fact set an example by providing required facilities in all its schools before it takes punitive action against private schools for not doing so.
6.8.5 Before the Act came into force, a number of community organizations used to run alternative schools in slums and bastis for drop outs and un-enrolled children. Both DPEP and SSA provided funding for such initiatives which fulfilled a social need. The Committee saw one such initiative by Gyanshala which runs a large number of very popular learning centres in the slums of Ahmedabad. After the RTE Act, such centres become illegal as they cannot satisfy the norms of a school, their funding under SSA has been stopped and they can be closed any time by authorities. The Committee recommends that separate norms for informal or alternative schools should be laid down and those which fulfil them should be allowed to continue.
6.8.6 The RTE Act gives enormous powers to Government and its officers, and if past experience is any guide, this can only lead to harassment and corruption. The Committee also feels that conditions in different states are so different that it is not practical to provide the same norms for all. Since the Act has to be implemented by states, greater flexibility should have been given to them to achieve the objective of free and compulsory education. While doing so, it is equally important to ensure that the salutary standards of infrastructure prescribed by the RTE should not be lightly watered-down for relatively trivial reasons; this discretion needs to be applied only taking into account relatively weighty local reasons.
6.8.7 The RTE Act needs to be amended to provide, in addition to infrastructure requirements, norms for learning outcomes which directly affect quality of education.
6.8.8 Infrastructure norms for recognition of private schools should also be applied to Government schools. There should be no discrimination between private and Government schools in the applicability of norms, and punitive action should be ensured for not adhering to them.
6.8.9 States should be given flexibility to determine their own norms for infrastructure requirement consistent with local conditions. One set of norms cannot be applied uniformly to a large and diverse country like India.
6.8.10 Local norms should be evolved for ‘alternate schools’, adopted to localconditions as appropriate.
6.9 Vocational Education Training (VET)
6.9.1 The Committee recognizes the need for integrating skills with education, particularly in secondary education and outlines the challenges and broad strategy for the future.
(a) Current Initiatives
6.9.2 The Committee noted that significant amount of work has been done in the area of skill development over the past few years. Some of the important initiatives are mentioned in the following paragraphs.
6.9.3 A comprehensive National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was formulated in 2015 and a Mission was set up by Government of India, with the objective of training 40 crore people by 2022. In order to implement the Mission, necessary institutional frame work has been put in place, which includes: National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) and Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) for standards (33 SSCs are operational), National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) for administering the NSQF, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) for creating/ augmenting the training delivery capacity an exclusive Ministry for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) for coordination. Around 21 Ministries of the Central Government are involved in implementing Skill Development Schemes for their respective target groups. These Ministries and NSDC together have trained around 86 lakh youth during the financial year 2014-15 alone. The State Governments have also been very active in implementing skill development programmes and many of them have established Nodal Institutions for coordination and implementation of programmes.
6.9.4 A network of private Training Providers (TPs), incubated, supported and monitored by NSDC, capable of implementing industry relevant short term training programmes with job linkages, has evolved in the country. There are 267 such TPs with more than 4000 training centres, where around 65 lakh persons have been trained till now during the last five years.
6.9.5 The industry, public and private sector have also been contributing to skill development programmes by way of participation in SSCs, and financial sponsorship through CSR.
6.9.6 MSDE has taken up a number of measures in strengthening the existing ITIs and creating new ones. It proposes to improve the infrastructure, enhance the quality, and double the existing 18.5 lakh seats by 2022.
6.9.7 National Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Policy, 2015 has envisioned integration of 25% of the schools with the skill development programmes by 2022 in the country. The MHRD, as part of its initiative for vocationalization of secondary education, has taken up a number of steps:
(i) Under RMSA, a scheme has been introduced to impart skills to the students from Class IX onwards through the State Governments and the CBSE. The courses corresponding to NSQF levels I to IV, (duration of about 200 hours in a year) are implemented in schools by the State Education Departments by engaging the services of NSDC approved Training Providers (TPs). Under this Scheme, more than 1.5 lakh students have been trained in different vocational skills subjects in3000 schools across 16 states.
(ii) A large number of computer labs (approx. 80,000) with good quality IT infrastructure, internet facility and power backup, have come up in secondary/higher secondary schools across the country, under the scheme of ICT @ Schools under the RMSA. Most of these are set up and managed by expert agencies of public and private sector.
(iii) The other initiatives of MHRD in skill development include: scheme for Community Colleges through UGC; Choice Based and Credit Based system; and B.Voc Course through AICTE.
6.9.8 While noting the several initiatives taken by the Central/State Governments and industry, the Committee observed that there are several challenges in vocationalization of secondary education. Some of these critical issues include:
(i) Vocational education is not "aspirational" for the students, the parents and the community at large for variety of reasons, social and economic.
(ii) The current initiative of MHRD in introducing vocational education subjects in schools, although a good beginning seems to be inadequate, both in terms of its reach/coverage and integration with the formal academic system.
(iii) The schools do not have the requisite workshops, trainers and the industry linkages to impart high quality and relevant vocational skills.
6.9.9 After taking into account the current initiatives and the challenges, the Committee believes that a two pronged strategy: (a) deepening the coverage of NSQF compliant skills programmes, and (b) mainstreaming of vocational education with the formal academic system, would help in vocationalization of secondary education. Specific recommendations are given in the following paragraphs.
6.9.10 The ongoing initiative of MHRD in implementing NSQF compliant skills programmes in secondary and higher secondary schools, through NSDC approved TPs, needs to be scaled up to cover larger number of students. The Scheme would also need to be reviewed and improved to ensure better quality and sustainability. The courses being offered may also be revisited, to add those based on local economic resources and entrepreneurial opportunities.
6.9.11 The computer labs that are set up in the schools under ICT @ Schools scheme of MHRD may be utilized for imparting vocational skills to the students and the local youth community, post school hours, in partnership with the agencies who operate such computer labs.
6.9.12 The schools which have adequate land and infrastructure may be utilized to set up formal vocational skill centres, in partnership with NSDC Training Partners, offering programmes that suit the needs of the students and youth and relevant to the local economy and the industry. Such centres may operate post school hours to avoid any disruption of normal academic work. The skills programmes offered in these centres should meet the requirements of NSQF and may be supported by Government sponsored skill development schemes such as Prime Minister KaushalVikash Yojana (PMKVY) and others.
6.9.13 All the skill development courses conducted through above means should formally be certified under NSQF, through SSCs, to enable the trainees to move up the chain of qualifications and thereby job enhancement and career progression.
6.9.14 The measures suggested above would not only help the students in the schools to pursue skill development programmes as a preferred choice in a seamless manner, but also enhance the training delivery capacity in the country and thus meet the larger objective of Skill India Mission.
6.9.15 Vocational education subjects (the ones offered in ITIs) may also be offered in the schools from class VIII onwards, as a formal stream along with Science, Maths and other subjects, leading to certification by the respective Boards of Education.
6.9.16 The vocational skills qualifications acquired through ITIs (NCVT courses) may be given certificate of equivalence to Class X or XII, as the case may be, after the concerned student completes the essential bridge course to address the gaps, if any, in the language and knowledge components. Government of Gujarat has already introduced such a system and the MSDE has taken up this for national level notification with the MHRD.
6.9.17 An organised intervention for counselling the students on career options may be designed and introduced in the schools to enhance the awareness about the vocational skills based career opportunities.
6.9.18 The above measures would enable the students, who acquire vocational skills, to be formally certified by the Boards of Education, and thus provide an opportunity to pursue higher academic programmes while allowing them to use the skills they have acquired for wage/self employment. This will result in better integration, career/academic progression and consequent acceptability of the vocational skills programmes by the society at large.
6.10 Pre-School Education
(a) Present Position
6.10.1 At present, government schools provide education to children from the age of 6 (in some States from age 5) onwards. The legal obligation, as prescribed in the RTE Act, is that every child shall have a right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school from the age of 6 to 14. Consequently, most children, and specially first generation learners, commence their education in primary school from the age of 6.
6.10.2 In practice, Early Child Care and Education (ECCE) up to the age of 6 currently does not form part of the formal education provided under the aegis of the Central or State Governments. This vacuum has been partly filled by play- schools and pre-schools which have mushroomed in the private sector.
(b) Importance of Early Childhood Years
6.10.3 It is universally recognized that early childhood is a very crucial period of life, when the foundations are laid for cumulative lifelong learning and human development. Psychologists, educationists, paediatricians and sociologists are all agreed that early childhood up to the age of 6 is a period of remarkable brain development that lays the foundation for all future learning and growth.
6.10.4 Research in neuro-science also confirms the importance of the early years in a child’s life. It shows that within the span of the early childhood years, there are certain ‘critical periods’ for development of significant cognitive, linguistic, social and psychomotor competencies, which are known to contribute to later success in life.
6.10.5 The years from birth to 6 constitute a period of both extreme vulnerability and tremendous potential in human life. On the one hand, any damage or impoverishment suffered at this stage is likely to be irreparable; on the other, adequate protection, care and stimulation will provide a firm foundation for the future well-being and all-round development of the child’s physical, social, emotional, linguistic and cognitive abilities.
6.10.6 Specifically, between the ages of 3 and 5, children gain physical confidence, strive for independence by doing things on their own, and experiment with objects in the surrounding environment. They show intense and lively curiosity about what is going on around them, enjoy the company of other children, seek to imitate adults, learn to assert themselves as individuals and begin to acquire self control and discipline.
6.10.7 Ensuring an enabling environment in early childhood represents the best opportunity for breaking the intergenerational cycle of multiple disadvantages – chronic under-nutrition, poor health, gender discrimination and low socio- economic status.
6.10.8 The past few decades have been characterised by rapid urbanisation and the breaking up of the joint family system. With the increase in the number of nuclear families and working parents, the cushion which was earlier provided by elders and non-working family members has been steadily eroded over time, forcing many parents to send their children to pre-school. Others do so as a matter of choice, in order to give their children a head-start in primary school. In this way, the essential need to develop the young mind is being responded to in a sporadic manner, often without a scientific and pedagogically acceptable approach.
6.10.9 An effective programme to meet the developmental needs of children in age group 0-5, through a holistic and integrated programme of Early Childhood Education Development, is now imperative. In particular, while the other aspects need to be strengthened, an educational programme specially geared to the 4 -5 year age group needs to be created, for implementation. While this will be executed through the existing governmental machineries as an addition to the current programmes, it is also necessary to reach the private sector agencies operating in this field with appropriate guidance and regulation.
(c) Role of the State
6.10.10 Without making ECCE an enforceable right, the Constitution specifically articulates the intention of addressing the needs of children up to the age of six. Under the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002, Article 45 of the Directive Principles of State Policy states that “the State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of 6 years”.
6.10.11 The RTE Act refines this to make ECCE a quasi-legal right from the ages of4 to 5. Section 11 of the RTE specifies that, “with a view to prepare children above the age of three years for elementary education and to provide ECCE, appropriate Government may make necessary arrangements for providing free pre-school education for such children “.
6.10.12 Despite the above, it is noted that little has been done to bring education to the 4 – 5 age group hitherto, even though it is a constitutional requirement.
6.10.13 Ministry of Women and Child Development has formulated the National Early Childhood care and Education (ECCE) policy as approved by the Cabinet and notified by the Government of India in the Gazette on 12.10.2013. The vision of National ECCE policy is to achieve holistic development and active learning capacity of all children below 6 years of age by promoting free, universal, inclusive, equitable, joyful and contextualised opportunities for laying foundation and attaining full potential. The WCD Ministry’s National ECCE policy includes universal access with equity and inclusion. For a variety of reasons, particularly presumably due to non-allocation of resources, this policy has not been rolled out countrywide in an effective manner.
6.10.14 The Committee recommends that ECCE for children from 4 to 5 years of age should be declared a right, and a programme for pre-school education needs to be implemented without delay.
6.10.15 The main interventions by the Government of India in child health and welfare for the age group 3–5 are being made under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme, under the aegis of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MCWD).
6.10.16 Launched in 1975, the ICDS scheme aims to improve the nutritional and health status of children by reducing the incidence of mortality, morbidity and malnutrition and to enhance the health and capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child.
6.10.17 The ICDS provides food and primary health-care to children less than 6 years of age and their mothers. In addition to fighting malnutrition and ill health, the programme is also intended to combat gender inequality by providing girls the same resources as boys.
6.10.18 Nutrition and immunization in the early years are of critical importance in ensuring the child’s good health and ability to learn throughout his life. Poor nutrition has a negative impact on school enrolment and readiness. Indeed it is well established that lack of micronutrient inputs in early childhood has irreversible life-long adverse impact on many aspects including brain development, physical development/stunting, lack of concentration and so on. Undernourished children are less likely to enrol in school and would drop out, if enrolled. A severe or chronic lack of essential nutrients in childhood impairs language, motor and socio-emotional development. It is highly cost-effective to institute preventive measures, and support for children early on than to compensate for disadvantage as they grow older.
6.10.19 In rural areas, the ICDS services are provided mainly through Anganwadi Centres (AWC), which are typically staffed by women and helpers from local families who do not have permanent jobs with retirement benefits. These Centres provide supplementary nutrition, health education, immunization, health check- up and referral services. While AWCs are also formally tasked with providing non- formal pre-school education, in practice they are not equipped to do so.
6.10.20 Out of the nearly 16 crore children in the age group 0 – 6, the child population between ages 3-6 is 7.54 crore. By end of 2015, 3.6 crore children, in the age group 3–6 were enrolled in 13.47 lakh Anganwadis; while official figures indicate that most of them received pre-school education also, it is most likely that the focus was on nutrition and health, with probably hardly with any education component. The Committee proposes that pre-school education needs to be the required norm for all children in the age group 4–5 and should be treated as a right of the child.
6.10.21 The ICDS is being funded and managed by the MWCD. The implementation of the scheme has tended to focus on nutrition and health, to the detriment of early child education. In order to adequately address all the issues of ECCE in totality and ensure the holistic development of the child, it is necessary to ensure that the different functions are properly co-ordinated and receive adequate attention.
6.10.22 While all states agreed, in their interactions with the Committee, that children attending government schools must have access to pre-primary education, there were differences as to which department should be given this responsibility. One view was that the education component of pre-primary should be made part of ICDS. The other view was that pre-primary education is the responsibility of education departments and states should gradually introduce pre-primary education in government primary schools, and that Mid-day meal scheme should be extended to pre-primary sections; ICDS programme must continue for children in the age group of 0 to 3.
6.10.23 The Committee recommends that ECCE for children from 4 to 5 years of age should be declared a right, and a programme for pre-school education needs to be implemented without delay.
6.10.24 The Committee recommends that all children in the age group 4 – 5 should now be eligible to be covered for pre-school education; the system needs to be adapted, improved and expanded to cater to all children in this age group – in other words, it is the right of the child in the 4–5 age group to receive pre-school education.
6.10.25 The Committee recommends that a new education component should be introduced in the Anganwadi practices, to ensure that the pre-school children are exposed to elementary education, with a carefully structured curriculum. This element will be blended with the procedures of the WCD, which will continue to be the operating ministry for the Anganwadis. Appropriate funding from the Centre and the States will be required, without leaving any gap in the budget of the WCD Ministry to enable the above to be rolled out. In a limited time period, the system should be expanded rapidly to cover all children of the 4–5 age groups. To the extent feasible the Anganwadi should be located in the premises of the local primary school or immediately adjacent to it.
6.10.26 The Committee recognizes that at present ICDS Aanganwadis are not adequately equipped to provide pre primary education. Following measures are suggested to strengthen Aanganwadis in this respect:
(i) NCERT should formulate curricular framework for pre-primary education.
(ii) The suggested schedule of activities should be on the lines of a play schoolwhich could even function as a day-care/ crèche –cum-activity centre in the afternoons.
(iii) SCERTs should conduct intensive training programs for selectedAnganwadis workers and new teacher-workers to orient them to deal with the new components of handling pre-school children.
(iv) SCERTs should provide training to the fresh as well as other teacher- workers using the NCERT curriculum but also to innovate and use local material to prepare activity related toys and play-things which stimulateyoung children.(v) Parents of the children should be encouraged to form managementcommittees so that the effort is participatory and conducive to local needs. The school SMCs of the Primary school should be associated particularly if they have a younger child attending the Anganwadi centre.
(vi) The health and nutrition component for Anganwadis will continue and should be fortified as the inputs impact on a child’s health, growth and learning ability.(vii) Appropriate funding to meet the additional responsibilities and the costs thereof need to be provided for.
6.10.27 Issues relating to coordination between the two ministries, and those relating to the State Governments and their field machineries need to be separately outlined.
6.10.28 In rural areas, ideally the Anganwadi should be located in the same premises as the primary school or the larger school complex in the village; this will facilitate utilization of common facilities, including playground etc.; in addition the child will get familiar with the school premises, with going to school becoming an easy habit. In many instances, the new child entering the Anganwadi may have a sibling in the primary school; this is an additional reason to locate the Anganwadi in the primary school premises or adjacent to it.
6.10.29 In urban areas, employers are obliged to provide day-care facilities for children of women working in the organized sector under various legislations, such as the Factories Act 1948, Mines Act 1952, Plantation Act, 1951, Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, 1980 and NREGA 2005. However, these legislations do not address the needs of children of women working in the unorganized sector.
6.10.30 The Committee believes that in due course all Government primary schools should have facilities for pre primary education. For this, it will be ideal if all Aanganwadis gradually get located either in the school premises, or as close to the school as possible. State Governments will have to prepare cadres of pre primary teachers, and create necessary facilities for their pre and in service training. The Committee recommends that the transition from Aanganwadi to pre-primary school should be gradual and seamless, and it should be left to each State to determine the time frame for achieving it.
6.11 Education of Children with Special Needs
6.11.1 Every child has the right to develop to her full potential and schools are expected to offer a stimulating experience that nurtures learning by all students. But children are different from each other and among them diversities exist o n various dimensions. Having special needs is one such dimension. An inclusive approach has long been advocated by education experts. The recognition that learners with different degrees of disability, also referred to as children with special needs (CWSN), which would include varying degrees of visual, speech and hearing, locomotor, neuromuscular and neurodevelopmental disorders, (dyslexia, autism and mental retardation), need to be given the opportunity to participate in the general educational process has yet to become widely acceptable by school managements. The need to provide for students exhibiting difficulty with behavioural communication or encountering from intellectual, physical or multiple challenges is often treated as something that only special schools can handle.
6.11.2 There is a marked difference between what was earlier envisaged and the prevailing situation on the ground. The National Policy for Persons with Disabilities, 2006 (PWD) voiced the need for mainstreaming of persons with disabilities in the general education system through inclusive education, identification of children with disabilities through regular surveys, enrolment in appropriate and disabled friendly schools till successful completion of education. More recently the RTE Amendment Act (2012) stated that “disadvantaged groups” includes children with disabilities and thus all the rights provided to children belonging to disadvantaged group shall apply to children with disabilities also. According to another important provision of the RTE Amendment Act, certain specific excluded categories of disabled children namely children with “multiple” or “severe” disabilities were to be provided with the choice of attaining home based education.
6.11.3 The importance of preparing teachers who can teach in inclusive classrooms following an inclusive pedagogy has been referred to in the National Curriculum Framework for teacher education (NCFTE), 2009. NCERT in various position papers has underscored the need for developing a positive attitude among teachers, administrators, and other students in their attitudes to children with special needs.
6.11.4 Providing special training to every teacher will neither be feasible nor cost- effective. There is a need for a mechanism which can respond to the school Principal or teacher who seeks special training to be imparted to handle children with specific kinds of learning difficulties. Sometimes all that may be needed is professional advice for a limited duration; sometimes it may need more training.
6.11.5 At present there is no structure available which can oversee the uniform application of the precept of including CWSN as integral to the school system. There is also no mechanism through which school managements can draw on a pool of experts when needed. There is therefore a need to provide for the management of this sub-sector of school education in each state, through establishment of a CWSN Board, in a way that provides oversight to the implementation of programmes which are intended for CWSN but which get little attention in the schools and within the classrooms.
6.11.6 The school can refer doubtful cases to an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) which also considers requests for admitting certain children with severe learning disabilities into special schools. Since there is no organisation or dedicated system available oversee that CWSN get due attention, it would be helpful to have a provision in the state acts. Specific procedures can be set out in the regulations of such statutes.
6.11.7 It is recommended that the on-going schemes which are intended to give special assistance to CWSN should continue. However the board referred above should oversee the implementation of the scheme, by obtaining six-monthly reports from the districts. A part-time sub-committee of experts preferably including child and clinical psychologists drawn from the nearest medical college or specialised facility should be set up. Any school or district educational officer can be authorised to refer a case for third-party assessment where needed, or where there is disagreement between the parents and the school management; or even when the school management itself is unsure about how to handle the child.
6.11.8 Fortunately, if detected early and a conducive school environment offered, CWSN can overcome many incapacities to learn and assimilate with other children. By including differently-abled children the advantage of peer learning is known to enhance the possibility of early improvement. It also sensitises children with no disabilities to respect and be tolerant of those with disabilities. This would leave a lasting mark on attitudes towards disability.
6.11.9 It is recommended that the on-going centrally sponsored scheme addressing children with learning difficulties should continue but the fu nding should have a relationship with the number of children falling in the category and identified by the schools but collated centrally.
6.11.10 An Independent Board may be set up under the state Education Acts to oversee the implementation of the scheme, by obtaining six-monthly reports from the districts.
6.11.11 An organisational structure for managing this segment of children at the district level should be incorporated in the State Education Acts with the regulations explaining the process to be followed for identifying and providing for children with special needs.
6.11.12 Handling children with learning disabilities is a complex task as every child with learning disability is unique. The Committee recommends that the Central Government takes the lead in encouraging the states to establish a nodal entity under the State School Acts which can oversee, intervene and guide schools to address the problem of learning disabilities among children. Government should also make available commensurate resources to tackle the needs of training, by creating part-time expert-cum-oversight Committees who can offer guidance, advice on special training to be given to selected teachers and generally check that the schools are capable of providing a safe and user-friendly environment for differently-abled children to a get the benefit of assimilation in most school activities.
6.12 Education of Tribal Children
6.12.1 According to Census of 2011, the tribal population of India is 10.42 crores which is 8.6% of total population of the country. In Madhya Pradesh tribals constitute 14.69% of the total tribal population in the country, followed by Maharashtra (10.08%), Orissa (9.2%), Rajasthan (8.86), Gujarat (8.55), Jharkhand (8.29%) and Chhattisgarh (7.5%).
6.12.2 Tribals are in majority in Mizoram, Nagaland, Lakshadweep, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
6.12.3 There are over 700 notified Scheduled tribes in the country. Orissa has the largest number (62) notified tribes.
6.12.4 The literacy rate of tribal population compared to rest of the country is much lower as seen in the following table:
|Year||Literacy rate of Tribal Population (in %)||India (in %)|
6.12.5 Tribal population have also suffered from higher infant mortality rate, dropout rate, anaemia among women and other lower HDI Indices compared to rest of the population. (Source: Annual Report of Ministry of Tribal Development2014-15)
(a) Problems of Education in Tribal Areas
6.12.6 Tribals in most parts of the country live in hilly and forest areas with poor roads and other means of communication. They live mostly in scattered homesteads rather than villages or mohallas, which makes it difficult to provide access to schools within short distance for all students. Teachers from non tribal areas are often reluctant to work in schools in tribal areas because of distance from towns, lack of housing and other amenities.
6.12.7 Teachers from other areas are also not familiar with local tribal languages and dialects and are not able to communicate effectively with tribal students, particularly in lower primary sections. Tribal students face difficulties in following prescribed text books which are not in their mother tongue, particularly when the content is not appropriately designed for them. In many states, text-books have been developed keeping in mind tribal dialects and their context.
(b) Education of Tribal Children
6.12.8 Keeping in view the peculiar problems of tribal areas, the main thrust ofCentral and State Governments has been to provide residential schools, known as Ashram Shalas. These schools provide free accommodation, food and education to tribal students, and have played a major role in improving access to education to tribal students. Government of India provides financial assistance to States for construction of new hostels and expansion of existing hostels. Government of India also provides pre-matric and post-matric scholarships to tribal students which cover tuition fees, hostel charges and allowance for books. Scholarships/fellowships are provided for studies abroad and research. There are schemes for financial assistance to States and NGOs to set up Vocational Training Centres and payment of training fees to tribal students pursuing vocational training courses.
(c) New Initiatives by States
6.12.9 During its visit to Raipur, the Committee was apprised of some of the initiatives taken in Chhattisgarh and Orissa. Chhattisgarh has launched a massive programme for quality improvement and monitoring under APJ Abdul Kalam Shiksha Gunvatta Abhiyan. Nearly 8000 class 1 and 2 officers of State Government periodically visit weaker schools which are provided capacity building and other inputs. Hostels are started in district towns to enable tribal students to complete secondary education. The State passed Right of Youth to Skill Development Act in2013 under which a youth can demand to be provided within 90 days vocationaltraining facility. Chhattisgarh also merged a number of schools with low enrolment with larger schools thereby reducing teacher shortages. Tribal Education which was part of Tribal Department has been placed under Education Department.
6.12.10 In Orissa text books and other learning material has been prepared for many tribal communities. In Gujarat a number of model residential schools have been started in PPP with reputed NGOs in education sector.
6.12.11 In spite of all the efforts made by central and state Governments, the state of tribal education is far from satisfactory. Their enrolment rate is lower and dropout rate higher than others, they have much lower representation in technical, engineering and medical courses. There have been several complaints of misuse of funds by Ashram Shalas.
6.12.12 The Committee feels that in order to improve access and quality of education for tribal children, greater responsibility should devolve on Government departments directly responsible for education. Tribal Departments do not have the domain knowledge or expertise which Education Departments have; TDDs have several other schemes also like rural development, rural infrastructure and services like provision of drinking water, drainage etc which does dilute their focus on needs of education. Chhattisgarh has already put Tribal Education under Education Department; the Committee recommends that their experience be studied and a dialogue started on the proposal.
6.12.13 However, the decision to give full responsibility to the education department should be taken with caution, as a lot depends on local factors. One key is that the level of supervision of the district administration should be quite high in tribal districts, compared to other districts where the district education system has a normal supervisory role.
6.12.14 In Ashram schools, in many remote pockets, the teachers also live on campus. It will be useful to link a nearby well functioning integrated higher secondary school/Kendriya/Navodaya Vidyalaya or another full-fledged secondary school to have regular operational, advisory, mentoring arrangements. In tribal areas the key has to be higher degree of local flexibility, with much delegation of local initiative, coordination among departments, and asking local agencies/officers to exercise discretion appropriately (with supervision, and accountability).
6.12.15 The Committee also recommends special focus on skill education for tribal areas. Opportunities for skill education need to be woven in the education streams in tribal areas. Since most tribal schools are residential, it will not be difficult, wherever infrastructure is available, to start skill courses after regular school time. NSDC and its associates are running some very successful skill programs in the heart of tribal areas. One such example is in Dantewada in Bastar where a Livelihood College offers nearly 20 skill courses, both in soft and industrial skills, and has created many job opportunities for tribal youth. There are many such examples; the Committee recommends that skill education should become an integral part of tribal education.
6.12.16 In some interactions the Committee was told that tribals find it difficult to understand the regional language which is the medium of instruction. However, the general feeling was that while the medium should be regional language, in the initial grades, it should be taught through local dialect. The Committee was informed that already there are several programmes under implementation in states having a large tribal population where the teacher teaches in tribal dialect of the area. In other states efforts are being made to produce bi-lingual text books. In the initial stages teachers would need training and requisite learning material in local dialects. Besides, additional efforts are required to promote science and teacher education in tribal areas. The school timings in tribal areas need to be made flexible to suit local needs.
6.13 Language Policy
6.13.1 India is an ancient civilisation characterised by numerous and diverse languages. According to the 2001 Census, India has 122 major languages and1,599 other languages. As many as 60 major languages are spoken by more than 1lakh people, and 30 of these are spoken by more than 10 lakh people.
6.13.2 The languages in India come from many different language groups. Apart from the major languages belonging to the Indo-Aryan group, spoken by 75% of the population, and the Dravidian group, spoken by an additional 20%, there are
other languages spoken in India which belong to the Austro-Asiatic, Sino-Tibetan, other minor language groups such as Tai-Kadai and Great Andamanese, as well as isolates. More than three millennia of language contact has led to significant mutual influence among the four predominant language families in mainland India and South Asia.
6.13.3 Hindi is the most prominent and wide-spread language in India. It is spoken by over 40 crore people (2001 Census) and serves as the lingua franca across much of North and Central India. The number of native Hindi speakers is around 25% of the population. However, when other dialects of Hindi spoken in the Hindi belt, such as Braj Bhasha, Haryanvi, Bundeli, Kannauji, Hindustani, Awadhi, Bagheli and Chhattisgarhi, are taken into account, more than 40% of the population speaks the Hindi language.
6.13.4 Article 343 (1) of the Constitution designates Hindi written in the Devanagari script as the official language of the Union. However, Article 343 (2) and the Official Languages Act of 1963 allow for the continuation of English in official work.
6.13.5 The Constitution makes special provision for the propagation of Hindi as the official language of the Union. Article 351 states: “It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.”
6.13.6 In addition the Constitution recognises a number of official regional languages which are listed in the Eighth Schedule, as amended by the 21st, 71st and92nd Amendment Acts. The Eighth Schedule currently lists 22 such languages, including Hindi.
6.13.7 Communication between States which use Hindi as their official language is required to be in Hindi. Communication between a State whose official language is Hindi and one which uses another official language is required to be in English, or in Hindi with an accompanying English translation (unless the translation is dispensed with by mutual agreement).
6.13.8 The Three Language Formula (TLF) evolved as a negotiated compromise solution to accommodate the strong views of the State Governments and has governed the implementation of language policy for the last 50 years. The TLF was formulated by the then Education Ministry of the Government of India in consultation with the State Governments and enunciated in the 1968 National Education Policy resolution.
6.13.9 Under the TLF, the languages that each child must compulsorily learn in school are as follows:
(i) The First language to be studied by a child must be the mother-tongue or the regional language.(ii) The Second language – in Hindi speaking states should be some otherModern Indian language (MIL) or English;(iii) In non-Hindi speaking states should be Hindi or English; and(iv) The Third language – in Hindi speaking states will be English or a Modern Indian Language (MIL) not studied as the Second language; in non-Hindi speaking states will be English or Hindi not studied as the Second language.
6.13.10 Under the TLF, every child is expected to learn three languages, namely, the mother-tongue, Hindi and English. In Hindi speaking States, children are to be taught Hindi, English and one of the Modern Indian languages.
6.13.11 Not all States are providing education in three languages up to the secondary stage; in fact the variations in so many states, as well as local variatio ns within states are of such nature that it can be even argued that the TLF is observed more in the breach than as a national policy. In some States, only two languages, the State language and English are being taught, presumably for political reasons. In some of the Hindi-speaking States the TLF is often interpreted as providing for the study of Sanskrit in place of any other modern Indian language; indeed contrary to the spirit of TLF no South Indian language is generally taught in most schools in Hindi speaking states. Some Boards of School Education allow students to pass the secondary school examination with only English and another foreign language, permitting them even to avoid learning Hindi or any regional language.
6.13.12 Children are born with an innate language faculty. Most children are able to pick up and internalise the complex rules of one or more languages even before they start their schooling. In many cases, children come to school with the ability to use two or three languages both accurately and appropriately. Even differently- abled children who do not use the spoken language develop equally complex alternative sign and symbol systems for expression and communication with ease and facility.
6.13.13 In implementing a language policy, primacy should be given to the mother tongue as the medium of instruction in the initial stages, before the child enters primary school. This is imperative, as repeated studies have indicated that basic concepts of language and arithmetic are best learnt in one’s mother tongue. Indeed, a child learns the mother tongue naturally from her home and societal environment. At the pre-primary level and in Anganwadis, the emphasis should be on reinforcing this knowledge and establishing a sound foundation for all future education based on the children’s mother tongue, including tribal languages.
6.13.14 Hindi and/or English could be introduced as languages right from Class 1, preferably only one of these, when the child begins regular school at the age of six. Proficiency in these languages, besides the mother-tongue, will empower the child in due course to communicate outside her own language group for practical purposes like business, tourism, cultural exchange, administration and social work.
6.13.15 While the mother tongue can continue to be the medium of instruction, the study of Hindi is desirable to bring all Indians together as citizens of a single nation. The study of English is equally of importance to enable her to transcend geographical boundaries and function effectively at the national and international level.
6.13.16 For many Indian families, including those in rural areas, acquiring a degree of proficiency in English is an aspirational goal. This is a major reason why parents prefer to send their children to private schools offering English language courses. English is also the predominant language of the internet. These are compelling reasons for the teaching of English in Government schools. Stress should be laid on promoting conversational English and Hindi, so that the child feels comfortable in using these languages in everyday life. Indeed the early teaching of additional language should be conversational based, rather than regress grammar/syntax-based, which often makes learning a language so complicated and difficult at an early age.
6.13.17 Suitable courses in Hindi and English should also be available in universities and colleges with a view to improving the proficiency of students in these languages up to the prescribed university standards.
6.13.18 The Committee agrees with the view expressed in the 1968 NPE that: “The energetic development of Indian languages and literature is a sine qua non for educational and cultural development. Unless this is done, the creative energies of the people will not be released, standards of education will not improve, knowledge will not spread to the people, and the gulf between the intelligentsia and the masses will remain, if not widen further.”
6.13.19 The study of Sanskrit requires special emphasis, as it is still inextricably linked with the life, rituals, ceremonies and festivals of the people and is a window to the rich cultural, philosophical, artistic and scientific heritage of India. Knowledge of Sanskrit is a window to languages and cultures in many states.
6.13.20 Keeping in view the special importance of Sanskrit to the growth and development of Indian languages and its unique contribution to the cultural unity of the country, facilities for teaching Sanskrit at the school and university stages should be offered on a more liberal scale.
6.13.21 In some States, Sanskrit is already being taught as a compulsory subject from Classes 6 to 8. Sanskrit may be introduced as an independent subject at a suitable point of the primary or the upper primary stage. At the secondary stage, Sanskrit may be offered as an additional option and at the higher secondary stage suitable elective courses in Sanskrit may be made available to all those students who wish to study it. Open school courses for Sanskrit may also be designed for learners at all levels.
6.13.22 In designing Sanskrit courses and curriculum, the language should not be treated as a ‘classical’ language but as a living phenomenon which is still relevant to the general life needs of the people of India. Old timers would remember that teaching of Sanskrit through the Bhandarkar method puts off many students, arising from the undue early stress on grammatical perfection, rather than provide the ability to get a feel for the language through usage, and stress on the‘roots’.
6.13.23 Development of new methods of teaching the language should be encouraged, and the possibility explored of including the study of Sanskrit in those courses (such as modern Indian languages, ancient Indian history, Indology and Indian philosophy), where such knowledge would be useful for an understanding of the subject is useful.
6.13.24 In addition, it would be useful for schools which have the capacity to do so, to offer foreign languages such as German, French, Russian or Arabic at the secondary or senior secondary stages. Every new language provides fresh perspectives and opens new prospects for the learner. However, these should be entirely left to the interest of students to take new languages either for special personal reasons or out of general inclinations.
6.13.25 The Committee recommends that the medium of instruction up to Class Vmust be the mother tongue or regional language.
6.13.26 The Three Language Formula (TLF) has been a part of the Education Policy of the country right from 1968 and continued through 1986/92. The Committee learnt during its interactions that the Three Language Formula has not been uniformly implemented in many states. With the passage of time the states have responded to local aspirations and preferences voiced by parents who would like their children to possess language communication skills that can facilitate intra- state, intra-regional as well as global mobility. Keeping this in mind, the Committee recommends that as long as the states ensure that the mother tongue or the regional language forms the basis of primary education up to Class V (a fact underscored by the earlier two policies) the choice of the second (at primary level) and third language (at secondary level) should be left to individual states to decide.
6.14 Sports and Physical Education
6.14.1 The NEP of 1986/92 had laid significant stress on sports and physical education to be part of the schooling process, in the following terms: “Sports and physical education are an integral part of the learning process... A nation-wide infrastructure for physical education, sports and games will be built into the educational edifice. The infrastructure will consist of playfields, equipment, coaches and teachers of physical education… Available open spaces in urban areas will be reserved for playgrounds, if necessary by legislation… Yoga will receive special attention. Efforts will be made to introduce Yoga in all schools.” School systems across the world recognize the critical importance of weaving sports and physical education in the education process, for all round development of the student.
6.14.2 The Committee, during its field visits and in discussions with local authorities and school managements, had observed that in general inadequate stress is given to this aspect of schooling. Indeed, the Committee got the impression that overtime, the attention to creation and utilization of sports facilities, and engaging students in sports activities has, progressively received less attention. In particular, with the rapid expansion of schooling all over the country, especially in urban areas, many schools do not have adequate facilities to cater to this important aspect of the education. In general, it was noted that government schools had provision for playgrounds and participation of stu dents in sports activities, although inadequate in most instances; many private schools, both in urban and rural areas, frequently had no provision whatever for such facilities. It was often also heard that even though sports and playground facilities is a requirement for recognition of a school, many private sponsors had circumvented this requirement through subterfuge, and through bringing in improper influence on the regulatory authorities.
6.14.3 The importance of physical development of children is not given the attention it vitally needs. School authorities in states need to bring renewed focus on this aspect. It is time to make a specific, non-divertible budget for sports facilities in government schools, and also in private schools, so that the children are encouraged to build their character in a spirit of competition, through sports and healthy physical activities, as part of the learning process – indeed as preparation for life. In another segment in this chapter, there is reference to creation of a new system of periodical health check-up for school children.
6.14.4 The 1986 Policy had rightly recognized the role that Yoga can play in healthy development of the mind and the body. Yoga, which originated in ancient India, was the integral part of a civilization which led the world in every sphere of human activity for millennia. In recent decades, the international community is rediscovering Yoga and the part it can play for the healthy development of the body and mind. Indeed, only very recently, on the initiative of the Government of India there is renewed recognition of Yoga as a healthy human practice, through the declaration by the UN of the 22nd June of every year as International Yoga Day.
6.14.5 Every school, both public and private should be encouraged to bring Yoga in as part of the schooling process, and facilitate every child to learn the basics of Yoga. Particularly in urban schools, where there is shortage of playground facilities, Yoga can play a significant part in the development of a young student.
6.14.6 The NEP of 1986/92 had laid significant stress on sports and physical education to be part of the schooling process The Committee, during its field visits and in discussions with local authorities and school management, has observed that in general inadequate stress is given to this aspect of schooling. The Committee also observed that many private schools, both in urban and rural areas, frequently had no provision whatever for such facilities. The importance of physical development of children is not given the attention it vitally needs. School authorities in states need to bring renewed focus on this aspect. It is time to make a specific, non-divertible budget for sports facilities in government schools, as also in private schools.
6.14.7 Yoga is an art from ancient India, which the whole world is increasingly adopting for healthy development of the body and the mind. The United Nations has recently declared an annual International Yoga Day, recognizing its potential vital role in nurturing the body and the spirit. Every school, both public and private, should be encouraged to bring Yoga in as part of the schooling process, and facilitate every child to learn the basics of Yoga. Particularly in urban schools, where there is shortage of playground facilities, Yoga can play a significant part in the development of a young student.
6.15 Curriculum Renewal and Examination Reforms
(a) Curriculum Reforms and Renewal
6.15.1 The success of the New NPE would require a robust, comprehensive and futuristic curriculum that would prepare young persons to face the challenges of‘change’.
6.15.2 It is necessary to integrate curriculum in the content and pedagogy. It is the conceptualization, nature and design of the extent of dynamism inbuilt in the curriculum that has the strength to transform the education system as one “rooted to culture and committed to progress”, which is the universally accepted premise. For example, education now needs to equip the learners on issues of climate change, global warming, pollution, depletion of water resources, various facets of environmental degradation, generating questions like: “How long will the planet Earth Survive?” Curriculum must inspire and offer hope, encourage to learner to act and find solutions. The challenge also is to link the curricular content with local needs and aspirations.
6.15.3 The main objective of our education system currently, unfortunately, is to prepare the children to do well in the examinations. Classroom behaviour and dynamics are guided by this overarching goal. Our examination system is based on rote memory; questions are asked from text books and students who are able to reproduce what is written in the text books manage to get high scores. The Committee understands that memory and recall are an integral part of any education system, but endorses the views of several experts that the focus of education should be more on critical thinking; the examination system should be geared to test understanding rather than ability to reproduce the text-book script.
6.15.4 The Committee has made several recommendations for reforms in the examination system, which if implemented, would make class room learning more broad based rather than confined to a text book. The earlier curricular frameworks had observed that instead of just one set of approved text books for all schools, flexibility of choice from multiple text books should be given to schools and teachers keeping in mind regional and cultural needs. The Committee has observed elsewhere that text books are no longer the sole source of knowledge; Internet has made available information and knowledge on an unprecedented scale, and teachers and students should make full use of it. The focus of class room transaction should now shift to self-learning from a variety of learning materials and teacher should become a facilitator and guide in this process.
6.15.5 It is also important to refer to the major issue of curricular load reduction; and in this context to the proliferation of private tuition and coaching arrangements. It is not generally recognized that the formal curriculum needs to respond and take into account the growing dependence on tuitions and the frightening levels of emergence of coaching institutions.
6.15.6 It is a well-recognized global phenomenon that private coaching supplements the formal educational system – this practice is widely prevalent in a large number of countries. Indeed for very talented children or those who are relatively backward, systems for private coaching exists in many countries, in a fairly organized way. A recent study by Bray in 2015 has indicated that the coaching sector in the 6 to 14 age group is strong, and is growing in India, and is now a substantial ‘industry.’
6.15.7 Private coaching (for a consideration or a fee) as a supplement to formal education may help the child in certain circumstances to keep up with the class; however left to market forces, it has been well established that private coaching increases disparities between classes of students; the relatively well-off segments of the student population can benefit through supplementary coaching, whereas the educationally and socially backward classes generally cannot afford supplementary coaching classes. In a country like India, where large inequities exist, including in the matter of educational opportunities, it can be postulated that private coaching exacerbates disparities in general. The study (Bray) inter-alia points to rural schools in India, where 2.8% of children from Chhattisgarh could avail of private coaching, whereas in the capital of West Bengal, Kolkata,73% of the students could avail of private co aching – this may be an extremepicture, but clearly points to the disparities in learning opportunities in India, stressing the need for major correction measures.
6.15.8 The need for outside coaching also is an indication of the weakness of the formal coaching levels in schools, and is a reflection of the failure of the teacher community to fulfil their due role in imparting education. It also is often a reflection of improperly structured curriculum and undue load on the student, pointing to need for curriculum reform. The Committee has elsewhere referred to the need to improve the performance of the teacher in schooling; it is no less important to focus on curriculum reform.
6.15.9 The Committee has elsewhere stressed the need for remedial coaching as well as systems to augment the process of knowledge acquisition by the child, particularly in the context of the ‘No Detention Policy’. While one cannot wish away the existence of private coaching, it needs to be understood that the prime requirement is to improve formal coaching standards in schools, and also create structures for assisting children in school to keep up with the median levels of each class, through special support measures. It is also important to stress, in this context, the need for adherence to the ’90-90’ principle – 90% of each class should assimilate 90% of the curriculum content – this needs to be set as the benchmark for testing the validity of curriculum reform, as well as the success of teaching in the class.
6.15.10 The task of ensuring comparability of curricula across the School Education Boards, Central and also in States has been entrusted to the NCERT. The expectation was that when learners move from one place to another, they do not suffer any disadvantage. The NCERT prepared curriculum frameworks in 1975,1988, 2000, and 2005. As an advisory body, it prepares curriculum frameworks with active and intensive involvement of state functionaries and experts. The immediate task is to initiate the process of Developing the New Curriculum Framework for School education that would respond to the new National Policy of Education. This exercise needs to be conducted after every five-year interval; last prepared eleven years ago, it has already lost its relevance.
(b) Examination Reform
6.15.11 The broad objectives of education are to provide knowledge and skills, create a spirit of inquiry, and instil values to become a good human being and a good citizen. The sole objective of Indian education system, as it has evolved in the last few decades, appears be to prepare students for the Board examinations.
6.15.12 The Indian examination system is criticised, often with some justification that it suffers from every malpractice human ingenuity can think of. Papers are leaked, copying is rampant, examiners are compromised, and mark-sheets manipulated. The problem is more serious in some states, in others also the situation is not satisfactory.
6.15.13 Many initiatives have been taken to curb examination malpractices. Shift to objective type and multiple choice questions, bar coding of answer sheets to protect student identity, strict vigilance and video recording at examination centres to prevent copying, grading instead of aggregate marks, computerized tabulation and preparation of mark sheets, online announcement of results have helped in improving the system.
6.15.14 The core underlying issues are deeper than just the process of conduct of examinations. Some of these are discussed in the following paragraphs.
6.15.15 The Indian examination system is based on rote memory; questions are asked from text books and students who are able to reproduce what is written in the text books manage to get high scores. As part of examination reforms, many boards have introduced objective type and multiple choice questions, but these also often test memory more than understanding, analysis and application. The Committee recognizes that the memory and recall are an integral part of any education system, but is strongly of the view that the focus of education should be more on understanding and the examination system should be geared to test understanding rather than regurgitating text-book script.
6.15.16 The evaluation of a student should not depend entirely on performance in end of the year examination. Weightage needs to be given to performance in periodic tests, classroom participation and quality of assignments throughout the year, for which objective and transparent criteria need to be laid down.
6.15.17 Credibility of examinations is questioned because the marking system is shrouded in secrecy. After every public examination, an open-access website must show Item-wise expected answers and other performance analysis. This could be in the form of a moderated blog so that teachers-educators, teachers and even others could share their comments.
6.15.18 It is necessary to ensure that the results of Board Examinations are correct and reflect the reality. A large number of candidates score marks above99% and many score 100% too; the same students often do poorly in Entrance Tests for Engineering or other technical courses. This also renews do ubts about the logic of the examination system.
6.15.19 Many Boards follow a practice of awarding grace marks to students to enable them to pass the examinations, and to inflate overall pass percent. The students who pass out of such a ‘diluted’ system would either not be able to compete with students from elsewhere or not perform well in their future jobs. Practices like ‘grace marks’ serve little purpose.
6.15.20 Scaled scores and percentiles are the modern scientific methods to provide the most accurate results of a large scale examination like a Board Exam. Marks are inadequate as they do not reflect the difference in difficulty across subjects and years. Grades indicate a band in which students lie, but are inaccurate, for example, at the border of these bands. Scaled Scores and percentiles adjust for the varying difficulty of different questions and tests and provide comparable results across students.
6.15.21 The Committee also recommends that a system of online on-demand board examinations should gradually be tried out as this will offer flexibility and reduce year end stress for students and parents. A National Level Test open to everyone having completed class 12 form any School Board should be designed – this should make the successful candidates eligible for admissions to various courses, without a multiplicity of entrance tests. (This has been referred in Chapter 8.)
6.15.22 Secondary Examination Boards lack the capacity to adopt modern scientific methods of question-setting and revaluation. Assessment capacities in CBSE, ICSCE and the State Examination Boards need to be strengthened. There is a need to build a discipline focused on developing appropriate questions for assessing learning. Improved and modernized evaluation systems would achieve results only when teachers are adequately prepared professionally, are regularly oriented and re-oriented through in-service education programmes; and free from non-academic duties.
6.15.23 The Committee is of the view that public examination system serves a useful purpose, and cannot be dispensed with. Though some education commissions and reports have called for the abolition of public examinations, the Committee does not recommend them being made optional. Among other factors, public examinations hold teachers and schools accountable for student performance.
6.15.24 Reforms to curriculum need to relate to the emerging aspirations and national needs that include social cohesion, religious amity and national integration.
6.15.25 There is need to reduce curriculum load and avoidable emphasis on rot e learning – the focus has to be on making learning joyful, creative, participatory, and stimulate and encourage the child to think.
6.15.26 The Committee notes that left to market forces, it has been well established that private coaching increases disparities between classes of students; the relatively well-off segments of the student population can benefit through supplementary coaching, whereas the educationally and socially backward classes generally cannot afford supplementary coaching classes. The prime requirement is to improve formal teaching standards in schools, and also create structures for assisting children in school to keep up with the median levels of each class, through special support measures.
6.15.27 The Committee recommends that the Guiding Principles for curricular reform enunciated by NCF 2005 are valid and need to be implemented vigorously. Teachers and students should have access to multiple sources of knowledge rather than only the prescribed text book. Examinations should be designed to test wider awareness, understanding and comprehension, and not merely ability to reproduce text book script. Curriculum should be broad based and aim for overall development of students in an increasingly technology driven environment.
6.15.28 The Committee is satisfied that the examination system needs serious reform. In the first place, the necessary political will needs to be summoned, and all decision-makers in this sector need to be convinced that the rampant malpractices need to be addressed with great urgency. Reform of examination process needs to be put on national agenda and the Centre and the States have to work together to put in place processes, which will restore confidence in the system. In addition, wide ranging technical reforms to clarify the purpose and objectives of different types of examination – whether this is for conferment of a degree or qualification to assess the quality of learning or whether it is competitive in nature, on the lines suggested in the following paragraphs are equally essential.
6.15.29 The present examination system focuses on testing the student’s memory; questions are asked from the text books and students who can reproduce what is written in the text books get high scores. Many State Education Boards have introduced objective-type questions, but these also test memory rather than understanding, analysis and application. The Committee recognizes that memory and recall are an integral part of any education system but is strongly of the view that the focus of education should be more on understanding and the examination should be designed to test understanding rather than regurgitating text book script.
6.15.30 The performance of a student should not be judged only by results in the Board examinations. Credit should be given to periodic classroom tests and evaluation. The process of continuous evaluation should be transparent and the result should be shared with students and parents.
6.15.31 There are always questions in the minds of students and parents about the criteria and process of marking answer-sheets followed by the education Board. The evaluation criteria should be transparent and in public domain. After every public examination and open access website should show item-wise expected items and other performance analysis. This could be in the form of a blog in which parents, teachers and students can share their comments and feedbacks.
6.15.32 It is important to ensure that results of Board examinations are correct and reflect reality. Instances where students score 99 or even 100% marks in Board examinations, but do poorly in Entrance Tests for technical courses, raise issues about the credibility of evaluation quality of Boards.
6.15.33 Many Boards also follow the practice of granting grace marks to artificially inflate pass percentage. The Committee recommends that this practice should be discontinued.
6.15.34 Many countries have discontinued the system of giving marks and grades and instead give scaled scores and percentile which is the modern scientific method to provide accurate results of large scale examinations like the Board examinations. Scaled scores and percentiles adjust for the varying difficulty of questions and tests and provide comparable results across students, states and even years. The Committee recommends experts should examine the feasibility of percentile system for our Board examinations.
6.15.35 The Committee also recommends that a system of online-on-demand Board examinations should gradually be tried out as this will offer flexibility and reduce year end stress for students and parents. A National Level Test open to everyone having completed class 12 from any School Board should be designed. It should make the successful candidates eligible for admissions to various courses without appearing in different entrance tests.
6.15.36 Assessment capacities in CBSE, ICSCE and State Examination Boards need to be strengthened. Teachers and educators need to be trained on developing appropriate questions for assessing and learning.
6.15.37 The Committee is of the view that Board examinations serve a useful purpose and should be continued.
6.16 Restructuring Class 10 Examination
6.16.1 National Curricular Framework 2005 states that 'The fact that learning has become a source of burden and stress on children and their parents is an evidence of a deep distortion in educational aims and quality. While urban middle-class children are stressed from the need to perform extremely well, rural children are not sure about whether their preparation is adequate even to succeed. The high failure rates, especially among the rural, economically weaker and socially deprived children, forces one to critically review the whole system of evaluation and examination. For if the system was fair and working adequately, there is no reason why children should not progress and learn.'
6.16.2 India is a large country. There are wide variations in the quality of education facilities, competence of teachers, social background of and opportunities to students. It is unreasonable to expect that all students should demonstrate the same level of competence in each subject in order to reach the next level of education. In the light of the urban–rural gap in India, this expectation is also socially regressive.
6.16.3 It is well documented that much of the higher failure and dropout rates in rural schools can be attributed to poor performance in two subjects – Maths and English. It has been suggested that some subjects can be offered at a higher and lower level and students can choose which level they wish to write. For example, a student who does not expect to study Mathematics further may choose the basic (lower) level, while another may choose the advanced (higher) level. Accordingly, it is suggested that at the Class X level, the provision to test the students at two levels of difficulty, particularly in mathematics and science subjects should be introduced.
6.16.4 The Committee suggests reform of Class 10 examinations, in the following lines:(i) Class 10 Board Examination in every subject to be in 2 parts: Part A and Part B. Part A to be compulsory for all students. Specifically, students who wish to complete their studies with class 10 and pursue options other than Class 11 or certain diploma courses, should appear for Part A only, in selected mathematics/science subjects.(ii) The requirement that students who only wish to earn a class 10 completion certificate and exit the system (to pursue other options including vocational courses and jobs) will reduce the anxiety and stress on such students and their parents. This will benefit a number of students including many in rural areas.(iii) Part B may be required only for students who want to study further in class 11 or onwards or seek admission to a diploma course or any other course requiring a class ‘10th completion certificate’. However, no student who wishes to write Part B should be prevented from writing it for any reason. At the time of registration for the examinations, students must specify if they wish to write Part B.(iv) In line with NCF recommendations, the typology of the questions should be such that reasoning and creative abilities replace memorization as the basis of evaluation. Basic tables and formulae, and other information that no longer need to be memorized should be provided in the question paper itself, so as to focus on the HOTS (higher order thinking skills) of application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.(v) A lot of stress and anxiety comes from an examination which is based more on rote memory and less on understanding. It is this excessive emphasis on memory that encourages practices like tuitions, which further add to the stress. The changes suggested to the type of questions, if implemented, will also help reduce student and parent stress and anxiety significantly.
6.16.5 Failure rate among students in Board Examinations is traditionally high. It is well documented that much of the higher failure and dropout rates can be attributed to poor performance in two subjects — Mathematics and Science. Various Education Commissions have suggested that some subjects can be offered at a higher and lower level, permitting students to choose the level at which they wish to write Class X Board Examination. For example, a student who does not expect to study Mathematics further may choose the basic (lower) level, while another may choose the advanced (higher) level.
6.16.6 The Committee recommends that Class X Board Examination in Mathematics and Science should be in 2 levels: Part A at higher level and Part B at a lower level. Students who wish to complete their studies at Class X need, by choice, to appear in Part B only.
6.16.7 While the syllabus for all students will be same, the examinations in Mathematics and Science subjects in Part B would be of a lower level than examinations for Part A. Students should have the freedom to exercise their choice and there should be no compulsion on them to select either of the options. Students who opt for Part B need to keep in mind that their eligibility to pursue future courses incorporating higher mathematics and science could get limited.
6.17 Protection of the Rights of the Child
6.17.1 India ratified the United Nations Child Rights Convention in 1992.In 2005 the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act 2005 was enacted. Two years later the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights was established and all states have since established statutory State Commissions which have a wide mandate. The RTE Act 2010 also lays down that the concerned Commission would examine the issues connected with child rights and deal with complaints about the violation of the Child Protection Act.
6.17.2 Child protection goes beyond personal safety of children. In the environs of a school the whole arena of the dignity of the child and prevention of verbal or any physical punishment besides the child’s right to a safe and clean environment come up. Often, there is friction between the need to enforce discipline and how it is to be handled in the face of a rights based approach. The rights of the child when juxtaposed with the managements’ and teachers’ responsibility to insist on certain standards of behaviour, dress and language, often get subjugated. Precisely because a child has no voice there is a need to view situations from the child rights point of view. That will only happen if the right kind of environment which shows receptivity to child rights and child protection is in place.
6.17.3 To start with every Principal and teacher needs to be made aware of the provisions of the Act and what constitutes a violation of a child’s rights. Thro ugh them the School Management Committees have to be sensitized periodically. School Counsellors have a direct role in keeping a lookout for children who might be facing trauma on account of physical or mental abuse and to act on the information.
6.17.4 The difference between the rights of the child to many freedoms can come into conflict with the school rules on punctuality, discipline and dress. Local solutions will emerge once the subject is discussed. Guidelines need to be evolved by the State Governments.
6.17.5 Principals must be encouraged to set a personal example by showing zero tolerance for any untoward incident involving a child’s rights and enjoined to take pro-active interest in protecting the rights of every student in the school.
6.17.6 The Adolescent Education Programme and National Population EducationProgramme need to be extended to all schools as early as possible.
6.17.7 To start with every Principal and teacher needs to be made aware of the provisions of the Act and what constitutes a violation of a child’s rights. Principals must be encouraged to set a personal example by showing zero tolerance for any untoward incident involving a child’s rights and enjoined to take pro-active interest in protecting the rights of every student in the school.
6.18 School Children and Public Health
6.18.1 School children represent the future wealth of the nation. Good education is possible only when the child is in reasonably good health and is able to utilize the learning opportunities provided to him/her. The situation relating to healthcare, including preventive, diagnostic and curative practices is not well developed in India, and particularly so in rural India. Past experience has shown that health care facilities are accessed more frequently to deal with immediate symptoms relating to diarrhoea, fever, and acute respiratory infection etc. Data suggests that children are likely to seek health services for emergent and urgent need than for preventive ones; potentially that the girl child needs are accorded lower priority in society in general. This topic is outside the remit of the Committee; however, since good health is a collateral requirement for good education, the Committee has ventured to make some recommendations in this regard. Taking quality healthcare to the schools, particularly preventive, is of utmost importance in our society.
6.18.2 Every third girl child in India is under-nourished; every second girl anaemic (55.3%). Child nutrition status has declined in many North Indian states. At least 44% of kids sleep hungry. The immunization levels which ought to be close to 100%, at least upwards of 99%, stand at around 52% in India. These are appalling statistics which are unacceptable. 40% of the world’s undernourished children live in India; 48% of Indian children below 5 years are stunted, and 42% are under-weight – all the result of poor nutrition and lack of micronutrients. One can imagine the impact of the above on the quality of education in our school system. About 62% of children under five years of age are vitamin A deficient.31% of school age children are iodine deficient. These deficiencies cause death and disability, and retard brain development, IQ, cognitive skills, energy levels, and productivity. India’s performance on these crucial outcomes is among the worst in the world. Our nutrition indicators are worse than even our neighbo urs Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. It is possible to address these issues with minimal intervention, using technology; the Committee argues that innovative ways of reaching our school children with preventive, diagnostic and basic treatment facilities can make a sea-change in their learning capabilities, and sharply reduce school drop-out rates.
6.18.3 Elsewhere, reference has been made to the imminent roll-out of Digital India, which will cover practically the entire country with a reliable communication network in relatively short time. The question is, has the time come to link the latest technology available, to take diagnostic and preventive care, even at an elementary level, to the school; this will contribute to educational quality, as well as public health – both prime objectives in a democracy.
6.18.4 Currently available electronic technology can be used, through Digital India, to roll-out a relatively inexpensive, and effective preventive/ diagnostic procedure to reach school children. The suggestion would call for well-equipped mobile vans, with real-time connectivity with a bank of doctors, say at divisional or state headquarters, to facilitate onsite basic tests (blood, ECG, eye-testing, etc.), and provide instant advice, with periodical (say, every three months) visits to schools. As this system is rolled out, this will create a permanent medical record (available in the cloud) for each child, with a unique identity. On a real time basis, each loaded mobile diagnostic centre could visit each school in a district, turn by turn; be on real time contact with a bank of medical experts (say at divisional headquarters); access the condition of each child and provide immediate diagnostic and treatment advice as required. This may relate to eye-sight, condition of gums, or more serious conditions like TB etc. – the point is that the child has the benefit of early diagnosis if something is amiss. A back-of-the- envelope calculation would indicate that the costs may not be prohibitive; no major treatment or procedures are recommended – only primary diagnosis as a pointer for future action. Already such electronic packages are available which could be harnessed or adapted in this regard. (Attention is also invited to such recent innovations as ‘Swasthya’ tablets, even though this relates only to blood and related tests). It is understood that some states and private foundations have already started experimenting with these ideas.
6.18.5 Noting that quality school education is closely linked with preventive and diagnostic healthcare, the Committee recommends large scale experimentation of deploying well-equipped mobile vans for diagnostic purposes to schools, with real time connectivity with a bank of doctors to provide immediate advice, and where possible to provide primary treatment to children. The Committee is satisfied that this will address the issue of education quality, as well as the school drop-out problem, while meeting the overall national objective of healthcare to the citizen. It is recommended that the Centre and the State Governments should sponsor widespread experimentations to implement this idea on the ground, to explore viable
options. The aim should be that every school in the country should be covered in a relatively short period of time.
6.19 Academic Counselling and Aptitude Testing
6.19.1 There are three aspects of school counselling that have not been given much importance hitherto and require to be addressed.
(a) Identifying and Guiding Students with Special Needs as a Support to the Class Teacher
6.19.2 The first relates to the identification of children with special needs and equipping teachers to include such children in the normal process of teaching and learning in the classroom. The manner in which this should be handled has been set out in a separate segment on children with disabilities. In most countries which have opted for providing counselling services the identification of such children is one of the responsibilities of the school.
6.19.3 There are two more areas where a school counsellor can be of immense assistance and these relate to the need for providing guidance to students who are slow learners (without any disability) and being able to observe and steer students into vocational streams of relevance to the local area or to be seconded to small and medium industries.
(b) Counselling for Underachievers
6.19.4 Under achievement in a growing child and particularly those that are caused by extraneous factors prevent an adolescent from fully realizing his optimal academic potential. This not only affects his future progress within the school system but even later in life. Often, children need to be guided and sometimes even counselled to adopt the best study habits which is particularly necessary in schools where children come from the less privileged sections of society and do not have a home environment which promotes academic learning.
6.19.5 Research has shown that it is not about inability but rather a manifestation of incomplete realization of one’s potential despite having innate ability that is often at stake. Deficient study habits often keep students from achieving what they are capable of because of a lack of motivation. When there is no disability or mental disorder and a child continues to underachieve, the factors have to be addressed instead of ignoring them in the expectation that things will improve on their own. It is the desire to achieve that often differentiates the high achievers from the low achievers. It is here that school-based assistance can be beneficial particularly for young people who come from unstable homes, where family turmoil, marital discord, financial concerns and lack of emotional support cause anxiety and unhappiness. Motivated students manage to do quite well but it takes expertise to find out what motivates a particular student.
6.19.6 Counsellors can prove to be of great help in providing a confidential outlet to enable a student to unburden himself. School-based assistance is the most widely accepted form of psychological therapy for young people. It is understood that the Central Board of Secondary Education guidelines expect one school Counsellor to be appointed for every affiliated school. However it would appear that such services are available in only a minuscule proportion of the government schools.
6.19.7 Whether the factors are attributable to an unsatisfactory family atmosphere or whether there are other reasons for absence of motivation, counselling can assist not only the child but also teachers to improve academic attainment and psychological well-being of the students.
(c) Identification of students who may have manual dexterity or ability to learn trades
6.19.8 The inclination of students is different and their latent talent/ability will come out if they are asked the right questions or put through a simulation exercise in a competitive setting. At present under the apprenticeship act there are some 74 trades listed as eligible for coming under the Act. Considering that a student can register as early as the age of 14, a counsellor can not only offer guidance but also do the necessary networking with nearby industries.
6.19.9 The Committee recommends that, from the point of view of the counselling, it is essential that students receive early guidance and support in finding placement in local industries. A competent counsellor would be able to recognize the special aptitude and skills of children from an early age and be able to steer them into appropriate openings as apprentices or otherwise suitably guide them.
6.20 Mid Day Meal (MDM) Scheme
6.20.1 The Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) is a major programme of the MHRD. Launched in 1995 as the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NPNSPE), the Scheme was extended to the upper primary level in2008-09 and renamed as the National Programme of Mid-Day Meal in Schools.
6.20.2 The Scheme provides free hot cooked lunches on working days to children in elementary schools and Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) centres. Nearly 12 crore children, comprising 8.4 crore in primary classes and 3.4 crore in upper primary classes benefited from the MDMS during 2009-10. The MDMS also provides part-time employment to nearly 2.6 million women who are working as Cooks-cum-Helpers (CCH). It is the largest such programme in the world.
6.20.3 Based on research, it is now clearly established that for children up to 10 years, adequate nutrition and micronutrient (MI) intake is vital for their balanced growth, mentally and physically; in adequate nutrition and MI input can permanently damage growth potential. Many states had started Mid-day Meal Programmes on their own initiatives. In November, 2001, the Supreme Court directed all State Governments and Union Territories to “implement the MDMS by providing every child in every Government and Government assisted Primary School with a prepared mid-day meal.”
6.20.4 The MDMS covers all school children studying in primary and upper primary Classes from 1 to 8 in Government and Government-Aided Schools, Special Training Centres (STC), Madrasas and Maqtabs supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), as well as National Child Labour Project schools run by the Ministry of Labour.
6.20.5 The MDMS seeks to address the pressing problems of hunger and education by improving nutrition, preventing classroom hunger, encouraging poor and disadvantaged children to attend school more regularly, helping them to concentrate on classroom activities, facilitating the healthy growth of children and providing nutritional support to children in drought-affected areas during the summer vacation.
6.20.6 Additionally, the MDMS fosters social equality, with children from diverse social backgrounds sharing a daily meal and helps to break caste and class barriers among school children. It narrows the gender gap in school participation by eroding the barriers that prevent girls from going to school and by generating part-time employment for women as cooks and helpers.
6.20.7 The MDMS is a Centrally-sponsored programme under which the Central Government bears the entire cost of food grains, transportation, Monitoring, Management and Evaluation (MME) and procurement of kitchen devices. The costs of cooking, kitchen-cum-stores and honorarium to CCH helpers is shared between the Centre and the States/UTs on a 75:25 basis; in the case of the North - Eastern Region States, the costs are shared on a 90:10 basis.
6.20.8 Several mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the MDMS are in place. These include Committees separately chaired by the HRD Minister and Secretary, the Executive Council of the National Mission for the SSA, Steering-cum- Monitoring Committees at the State level and 41 Institutions of Social Science Research identified under the SSA. National Meetings of Education Secretaries and Regional review meetings are also held to monitor the implementation of the MDMS.
6.20.9 The Guidelines provide that, as far as possible, the responsibility of cooking and supply of MDM should be assigned to local women’s or mothers’ Self- Help Groups, Youth Clubs and other voluntary organizations or to personnel engaged for the purpose by the Gram Panchayat or Municipality. In urban areas, where there is shortage of space for construction of kitchen sheds, a centralized kitchen may be used for a cluster of schools.
6.20.10 The implementation of the MDM Scheme has shown that certain critical issues need to be tackled on a continuing basis. These include irregularity in serving meals, delays in supply of food grains to schools, caste based discrimination in serving of food, poor quality of food, poor coverage under the School Health Programme, poor infrastructure especially of kitchen sheds, poor hygiene and poor community participation. From time to time, there have been reports of children falling ill after consuming the MDM. Scams relating to the Scheme and other implementation and monitoring issues tend to weaken the entire scheme.
6.20.11 Despite these shortcomings, the MDM Scheme is a hugely positive intervention in the two key areas of public health and education. It reflects the commitment of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the improvement of public health, which is enjoined on it as a primary duty by the Directive Principles of State Policy.
6.20.12 Many studies have shown that the MDMS has helped in preventing classroom hunger, promoting school participation, fostering social equality, enhancing gender equity and facilitating the overall healthy growth of children. The MDMS is widely acknowledged as one of the more successful entitlement schemes of the Government of India, which has resulted in an increase in enrolment and retention of children in elementary schools.
6.20.13 The Committee endorses the objectives of the MDMS and recommends its expansion and universalization to cover all children studying in elementary schools.
6.20.14 The Committee also recommends that Mid-day Meal Programme should also be extended up to secondary level.
6.20.15 It is important to ensure that teachers are not burdened with the tasks of cooking and serving the MDM. This should be carried out by cooks and helpers who are specifically employed for the purpose or by independent agencies. Some states have engaged services of reputed community organisations to provide Mid-day Meals cooked in centralized kitchens and distributed efficiently to schools. The Committee recommends that their experience should be studied and if found satisfactory then it can be replicated in other states.
6.20.16 Too many intermediary levels of fund flow should be reduced to ensure that the required funds reach the implementing agencies in time.
6.20.17 Sensitization programmes may be conducted for officials at District and Block level to make them aware of their role and responsibilities in implementation of the MDMS. Laid down norms should be rigorously followed.
6.20.18 There should be better convergence and co-ordination between the MDMSand the School Health programme.
6.20.19 Micro-nutrients, vitamin supplements and de-worming tablets should be provided to the children.
6.20.20 The programme is too important to be re-examined in its fundamentals, whenever there is an incident of food poisoning or other social issue. Care should be taken to ensure that the laid down procedures are followed, delinquents punished severely, and unsavoury events pre-empted; there should be increased stress in the quality of the programme.
6.21 Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVS), Jawahar Navoday Vidyalayas (JNVs) andKasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) (a) Kendriya Vidyalayas6.21.1 The scheme of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) was approved by Government of India in November, 1962 to provide uninterrupted education to the children of the transferable Central Government employees. There are 1102Kendriya Vidyalayas, many of them located in remote areas of the North East, catering mainly to children of Defence, PSUs and other Central Government employees. Enrolment in Kendriya Vidyalayas was 1142858 of which 642722 were boys and 500136 girls (Annual Report of MHRD 2014-15).
6.21.2 Over the years KVs have earned reputation for providing good quality education. They have excellent infrastructure and qualified and committed teachers. Students of KVs have done consistently well in Board examinations and extra-curricular activities.
(b) Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs)
6.21.3 The National Policy on Education, 1986, envisaged setting up of pace setting residential Navodaya schools to provide good quality modern education – including inculcation of values, awareness of the environment, adventure activities and physical education – to the talented children predominantly from the rural areas without regard to their family's socio-economic condition.
6.21.4 The target was to set up one JNV in each district. State Government has to provide land free of cost. JNVs are residential schools. As on date, 589 JNVs are functional, with total enrolment of about 2,50,000. The JNVs run classes from Class VI to Class XII. The admissions are done for Class VI and IX through entrance tests done by CBSE. At least 75% seats in a district are filled by candidates from rural areas. In 2014, 41164 students were admitted to Class VI and 4035 to Class IX (Annual Report of MHRD).
6.21.5 One of the important features of the Navodaya Vidyalayas is the Migration Scheme of students from one Navodaya Vidyalaya in a particular linguistic region to another Vidyalaya in a different linguistic region. It aims at promoting understanding of the diversity and plurality of India' culture and people amongst the students.
6.21.6 Navodaya Vidyalayas have good physical and academic infrastructure and their students have done consistently well in Board examinations.
6.21.7 Likewise, the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidhyalaya (KGBV) a residential school system meant for upper secondary girl children, also repo rtedly enjoy a good reputation for quality.
6.21.8 The Committee came across good feedback about the performance of KVs, JNVs and KGBV during its field visits and interactions with State officials, which leads it to believe that Government schools can also provide high quality of education even while fulfilling a social objective and operating within the constraints of a bureaucratic system.
6.21.9 The Committee recommends that the reasons for success of Kendriya and Navodaya Vidyalayas should be studied by independent experts, and the results should be made available to all State Governments to help them improve their own Government schools.
6.21.10 The Committee recommends that in the long run the objective for all Government schools should be to aim to reach the average quality of a Kendriya or Navodaya Vidyalaya.
6.22 Adult Education and Literacy
(a) Literacy Efforts in India
6.22.1 Post-Independent India inherited a system of education, which was characterized by large scale and intra-regional imbalances. The system educated a select few, leaving a wide gap between the educated and illiterate. The country’s literacy rate in 1951 was only 18.32 percent and female literacy was abysmally low at 8.86 percent. Only one child out of three had an opportunity for enrolment in primary school. Educational inequality was aggravated by economic inequality, gender disparity and rigid social stratification.
6.22.2 Eradication of illiteracy has been a major national concern since independence. A number of significant programmes have been taken up since Independence to eradicate illiteracy among adults, and today the overall literacy rate in the country stands at 74 per cent, largely on account of the interventions made over the years, including:
(i) National Adult Education Programme (NAEP) - launched on 2 October, 1978. This was the first programme in India taken up at the macro level to eradicate illiteracy through project approach. It was a massive programme aimed at educating 100 million non-literate adults in the age-group of 15-35 years within a time frame of five years.
(ii) Rural Functional Literacy Project (RFLP) - the objective of the scheme was to impart functional literacy to all illiterate persons in 15-35 age group by organising literacy centres in accordance with the norms and guidelines issued by the then Department of Education, Ministry of HRD from time to time.
(iii) National Literacy Mission (NLM) - launched on 5 May, 1988 as a Technology Mission to impart functional literacy to non-literates in the country in the age group of 15-35 years in a time bound manner through the Total Literacy Campaign (TLC) approach.
(iv) Sakshar Bharat Abhiyan – launched in September 2009 to impart functional literacy and numeracy, enable the neo-literate adults to continue their learning beyond basic literacy and acquire equivalency to formal educational system, impart relevant skill development to improve earning capacity and living conditions, and promote a learning society by providing opportunities to neo-literate adults for continuing education.
(b) Why Literacy?
6.22.3 Literacy confers a wide set of benefits on individuals, on families and communities. One set of benefits is social benefits, as exemplified by better knowledge and participation in health and family planning, adoption of preventive health measures, such as immunization, and in bringing about change in personal living and working patterns to ensure that children regularly attend school. The consequences of literacy on school education and infant mortality rates are immense. Literate mothers and parents understand the value of sending their children to school.
6.22.4 Literacy has been path breaking in many respects. It has breached social barriers, such as, the purdah system, and brought about social endorsement for women’s participation in the basic literacy and continuing education programs. It has fostered social consensus for the participation of dalits, tribals and some minorities. Indeed, literacy is a powerful instrument of social and gender equality, and an instrument to fight exploitation and oppression.
6.22.5 Another set of benefits from literacy is economic; literacy levels certainly have a positive impact on enhancing earning capacities.
6.22.6 A third set of benefits is political. This is best exemplified by the large numbers of women who have stood for and won elections at the different tiers of the Panchayati Raj system and have the confidence to actively participate in gram sabhas and community meetings.
6.22.7 But the most important are human benefits, which are deeply tied to an individual’s self esteem, confidence and personal empowerment to take individual and collective action in various contexts, such as the household, workplace and the community.
6.22.8 Clearly, benefits will not accrue if literacy is merely confined to signing one’s name and learning a few letters of the alphabet. Learning to sign one’s name without being able to read or comprehend what is signed is, in fact, a travesty. If literacy is to liberate people from oppression, exploitation and insecurity, provide them social, economic, political and human benefits, then literacy proficiency must at least be up to a level that a person can continue learning in an independent and self reliant manner.
(c) Mapping the Challenge of Illiteracy
6.22.9 The map of illiteracy in India is clear. Despite impressive gains, sadly, the problem of illiteracy persists in the country. Census 2011 data shows that one in every 10 households still does not have even one single literate member. Households without a single literate member are largely among dalit, tribal groups and migrant families.
6.22.10 The northern belt, including the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh account for the highest number of India’s non-literates. In the North East literacy levels are low in the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya.
6.22.11 The male female differential in literacy has declined; nonetheless continues to be high at 16.3 percent. Likewise, one third of the SC, ST population cannot read or write.
6.22.12 In this age and date, it is important that some segments of the population are not left behind. The challenge of literacy is one of commitment and relentless perseverance. If the fruits of social and economic development are to reach the people, then the gap between the haves and have-nots must be bridged. This certainly cannot happen if over 300 million persons in the country do not have access to the world of letters.
6.22.13 There is both a need and urgency to devise strategies of action that address the pressing needs the country is facing in this vital area of creating an inclusive human and social capital, that can participate and share equally in the growing economic capacity of the Indian nation.
6.22.14 Reaffirm Government’s commitment to basic literacy and opportunity for continuing education and lifelong learning for all illiterate persons above the age of15 years.
6.22.15 Provide for seamless transition from basic literacy to continuing education. Do away with the serial nature of the literacy effort; meaning that the work proceeds in separate phases of basic literacy, continuing education and lifelong education as was the case before– implying that these three tasks could go on in parallel and simultaneously in a district. This would reduce delays that were faced in the field between the completion of one phase and launching of the next.
6.22.16 Take up area projects: Well-defined geographical area should be taken up by NGOs, Government, Schools/Colleges/educational institutions, etc. A beginning could be made with careful household surveys of the educational status of all illiterate persons. Efforts should be made to eradicate illiteracy in the selected area, simultaneously meet the continuing education needs of the people, and impart a momentum to relevant development activities. Districts with low literacy attainments, particularly low female literacy have to be the immediate focus.
6.22.17 Mobilize youth and women: The new mass mobilization and steering of the mass programme will depend heavily on adolescents, youth and women. They are the most important and promising vanguard of the literacy movement. There can be many ways of energizing them, motivating SHGs to include literacy in their activities; building collectives of women at village, panchayat and block levels; creating object- oriented organizations of women etc.
6.22.18 Establish equivalency with formal education programmes and skill development: It is recommended that the content and curriculum for adult education programmes should be comparable to competencies achieved by students of class V/VIII/X.
6.22.19 Reinstate State Resource Centres (SRCs) and Jana Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs): Reinstate the position of SRCs and JSSs as organs of civil society who have the ability to assess the learning needs of their area and develop programmes accordingly, adhering at the same time to the overall goals of literacy and to the value framework enshrined in our Constitution.
6.22.20 The Committee recommends that in view of the large number of illiterates in the country, programmes for adult literacy at education should be given high priority.