School education: Over to the state governments now. Union government has done its bit

There is a wide discourse putting the prime responsibility to fix our public education systems at the door of union government.

I have earlier argued that such reasoning portrays misunderstanding of the nature of problems in education and that states have a major rule in fixing public education system and not the union government.

The brief summary of my argument was that the problem in public education is more on the governance side — the implementation intensive aspect, and not much on the policy side. So, local governments and state governments are at better position to fix this and the role of union government is limited.

Having said that, I argued that union government has some role, though limited. I have outlined few things that the union government should do. These are the things on which the responsibility of union government has to be judged up on, and not based on everything that’s wrong in public education. Here is my old article.

The broad actions that should be expected from the union government are

  • Lead the discourse towards outcomes
  • Set up data collection mechanisms to gather assessment data, and systems to track children
  • Sharing best practices with states
  • Participate in PISA
  • Necessary amendments to RTE

The union government has taken several initiatives recently, and by judging it based on the above metrics, it can be safely said that union government has done its part regarding school education. The implementation is yet to be seen but at least it initiated in the right direction.

  • Lead the discourse towards outcomes
Union government is ranking states based on outcomes.
It’s providing support to states to achieve this. It has roped in Prof. Karthik Muralidharan, the leading authority on education in India, to disseminate research wisdom to states.
  • Set up data collection mechanisms to gather assessment data, and systems to track children
Union government (UG)has launched an initiative to track students called Shala Asmita Yojana (SAY).
UG has announced to assess 3% students at each block level.

Ideally, we would want all students to be assessed but this is a good start

  • Sharing best practices with states
As mentioned earlier, UG has roped in Prof Muralidharan to share research wisdom
NITI Aayog has released document on best practices in social sector by states.

That leaves us with two pending aspects — participating in PISA and amending RTE. Decision to participate in PISA is simple to make and hope that it will be done. I am not particularly hell bent on this because there are not immediate consequences. On the RTE aspect, I am hopeful that we will see some action after the National Education Policy (NPE) procedures are done with.

In summary, the union government has taken initiated right steps on the aspects that it is supposed to. Over to the states now.