Recommendations on the Draft National Education Policy
20 August 2019
About Accountability Initiative’s work on public school education
Accountability Initiative is a research group which has worked on school education extensively. We have studied budgeting and planning for elementary and secondary education, education financing, teacher motivation, student-teacher interaction, school culture, and school relation with the education bureaucracy.
Recommendations on the draft National Education Policy (NEP) given below are informed by our research.
NEP Chapter 5: Teachers
“Objective: Ensure that all students at all levels of school education are taught by passionate, motivated, highly qualified, professionally trained, and well equipped teachers.”
Recommendations on Sub-Sections 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 (related to Teacher Training):
- Teacher pre-service education and in-service trainings should include workshops to prepare teachers to tackle common issues encountered at the school level. These trainings should be conducted regularly. Topics should include:
- Sensitisation on local caste dynamics and creating a prejudice-free environment in schools;
- Giving guidance to parents and students on health, security and career options;
- Efficiently managing critical school records such as maintaining attendance, enrolment, exam related records, and issuing school leaving certificates;
- Teachers’ service matters, such as how to draft letters for applying for leave, receiving no-objection certificates using official language and protocol, and grievance redress mechanisms, and knowledge of essential legal rules and provisions to help Heads of Schools and teachers take the right decisions at the school level.
- Training on new-age modes of communication: All teachers and Heads of Schools must receive on-site training to effectively use technology such as computers, tablets and smartphones. They should be trained on how to analyse student information related to exams, attendance and other relevant indicators to identify management and academic areas that require further attention. These trainings could be carried by IT/computer teachers or staff posted in schools or CRCs/BRPs who should be given appropriate training beforehand. In the initial months, teachers and Heads of Schools should be given enough opportunities to practice using technological devices in CRC/BRC meetings with their peers. Only with such concerted training and follow up can schools move towards fully digitising, processing and using this information to aid effective school planning and decision making, and aiding students in their academic progress.
- Non-teaching tasks:
- Clearly define what constitutes non-teaching tasks teachers may or may not engage in, beyond census, election and disaster management duties, which is currently exempt under the RTE.
- Lay down norms around the time spent on pre-specified non-teaching tasks that teachers could engage in, and strictly enforce the same, so that time spent on teaching is minimally affected.
- Outsourcing auxiliary tasks: Students and guardians often struggle to fill out and provide essential documentation needed at the school-level and teachers end up filling forms for them, including opening bank accounts, creating an Aadhaar ID and its seeding. Time further goes in verifying, correcting, submitting and sometimes resubmitting this information. This affects the time and quality of inputs provided by the teachers inside classrooms. Such routine tasks could be outsourced to certified agents identified by the education department.
NEP Chapter 7: Efficient Resourcing and Effective Governance through School Complexes
“Objective: Schools are grouped into school complexes to facilitate the sharing of resources and render school governance more local, effective, and efficient.”
- Separation of teaching-administrative duties: Schools should have at least one clerk to manage administrative records to reduce time spent by Heads of Schools and teachers on such activities. Ideally schools should have clerical staff posted in proportion to the school strength.
- Streamlining school data collection, collation and usage by:
- Streamlining state and district level data demands and removing formats that duplicate information.
- Digitisation of school level data that allows for easy collation right up to national level.
- Ensuring adequate HR in the form of data analysts at block and district level to process and analyse data.
- Training all data generators and users on Microsoft Office software such as MS Excel and MS Word, good data management practices and how to use the data generated for evidence-based decision making.
NEP Chapter 8: Regulation and Accreditation of School Education
“Objective: India’s school education system is invigorated through effective regulation and accreditation mechanisms that ensure integrity and transparency and foster quality and innovation for continually improving educational outcomes.”
Recommendations on Section P8. 1.7: Reinvigoration of CRCs, BRCs and DIETs
- Competency framework: Competency frameworks should be prepared for CRCCs and BRPs which would specify the core skills required to discharge their respective duties. This framework should be used to guide recruitments, feedback on performance and provide targeted trainings to build capacities.
- Human resource rules: CRCCs, BRPs should undergo a probationary period before being finally posted in their respective schools, clusters or blocks. This would help assess the level of their core and soft skills, motivations, and whether they are the right fit for the job.
- Skill building: For CRCCs and BRPs, the following workshops must be conducted in a regular manner to develop their mentoring and resource building skills:
- On facilitation;
- Conducting classroom observations and communicating feedback to teachers in a non-confrontational manner;
- Effective time-management and multitasking;
- Analysing results to track student progress and provide appropriate guidance;
- Creating subject-specific resource banks.
NEP Chapter A1.3.2: Efficient disbursal and use of public funds by addressing operational issues
- Untied Grant Funding: States should be provided with flexible financing aligned to the achievement of clearly articulated learning goals. Specifically, the government should create a new funding window for foundational learning that gives states two untied grants:
- The first untied grant would be for states to meet school infrastructure and teacher requirements. The Right to Education Act (RTE) mandates that all states meet a set of infrastructure and teacher norms. States should estimate their infrastructure and teacher requirements [as per RTE Act’s Schedule of Norms and Standards for a school (a) Number of teachers for Class 1-5 and Class 6-8, and (b) building], over a three-year period. The first untied grant can be linked directly to these human and physical infrastructure deficits.
- The second grant should be a formula-based, untied learning grant financed over a period of three to five years. Funding through this window should be based on a long-term learning strategy articulated by state governments and linked to clearly articulated annual learning goals. Since this is an untied grant, the Centre will no longer need to be involved in line item wise study of AWP&Bs but can focus on providing technical support and guidance to states. Over time, a third window could be created which links some proportion of funding to the performance of states or districts on learning outcomes.
- Planning cycle: The planning cycle should move away from an annual cycle to a three-year cycle (with annual financial approvals) so states, districts and schools can plan better and ensure continuity in implementation. In the current annual government financial and administrative cycle, it takes a minimum of six months for money to move and new programmes to be implemented due to long administrative processes of planning,approval, procurement and financing. As a consequence, money often reaches schools and districts midway (and often at the end) of the annual financial year, resulting in late implementation and low utilisation of programmes.
- Transparent Portal of allocation, release and utilisation of funds till the last mile: The U-DISE portal is an excellent source of school -wise information. However, currently a similar portal on finances is not available. There are thus no mechanism to know the timing of fund disbursal and extent of utilisation at different levels. As per Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, such information should be provided in a timely manner in the Ministry of scheme-wise portal. Relatedly, states must declare their per-student costs in keeping with Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act.