Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Oct, 01, 2019

[pib] School Education Quality Index (SEQI)


  • The first edition of SEQI was recently released by NITI Aayog, in the presence of NITI Aayog.

School Education Quality Index

  1. SEQI was developed by NITI Aayog to evaluate the performance of States and UTs in the school education sector.
  2. It is developed through a collaborative process, including key stakeholders such as Ministry of HRD, the World Bank and sector experts.
  3. The index aims to bring an ‘outcomes’ focus to education policy by providing States and UTs with a platform to identify their strengths and weaknesses and undertake requisite course corrections or policy interventions.
  4. In line with NITI Aayog’s mandate to foster the spirit of competitive and cooperative federalism, SEQI strives to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices across States and UTs.

Key indicators

  • The index consists of 30 critical indicators that assess the delivery of quality education. These indicators are categorized as below:

Category 1: Outcomes

  • Domain 1: Learning outcomes
  • Domain 2: Access outcomes
  • Domain 3: Infrastructure and facilities for outcomes
  • Domain 4: Equity outcomes

Category 2: Governance processes aiding outcomes

States performance

  • States and UTs are ranked on their overall performance in the reference year 2016-17, as well as on their annual incremental performance between the reference year and base year (2015-16).
  • The rankings present incredible insights on the status of school education across States/UTs and their relative progress over time.
Aug, 29, 2019

[pib] Integrated online junction for School Education: ‘Shagun’


  • Union HRD Ministry has launched one of world’s largest Integrated Online Junction for – School Education ‘Shagun’.
  • It also announced the setting up of the Integrated National School Education Treasury (INSET).


  • School Education Shagun is an over-arching initiative to improve school education system by creating a junction for all online portals and websites relating to various activities of the Department of School Education and Literacy.
  • The word Shagun is coined from two different words- ‘Shala’ meaning Schools and ‘Gunvatta’ meaning Quality.
  • This online junction of different websites and portals into a single platform is aimed enhance the accessibility of information relating to schools and to ensure a holistic approach to transform education sector.

Integrated National School Education Treasury (INSET)

  • INSET envisages a fully integrated, instantly accessible and seamless information network for all parameters relating to the students, teachers, and schools in the country.
  • The main focus will be on the following areas:
  1. Reinforcing and cleaning the data of the Integrated Online Junction through feedback from Stakeholders
  2. Ensuring full inter-operability among the websites, portals and applications which are already hosted in the junction
  3. Creating high quality e-contents, including quizzes and puzzles to enhance learning and also for teachers in aiding  classroom transactions
  4. Using AI and deep machine learning in a variety of ways to enhance the quality of school education including for designing evidence based inventions.
Aug, 16, 2019

[op-ed snap] Over to the teacher


The quality of education in India has been a persistent concern.


  1. ASER report has been that a large number of children in the country cannot read fluently or do basic arithmetic even after attending secondary school.
  2. Other studies have raised questions about teaching methods in Indian schools.

Case study: Odisha

  1. Odisha government tried to address this problem by doubling the teaching time of three subjects — English, Mathematics, and Science — in all government schools in the state.
  2. These subjects get 90 minutes of teaching time every day while other subjects will continue to get 45 minutes.


  1. First-generation learners – The ASER surveys have shown that a large percentage of children in the country’s primary schools are first-generation learners.
  2. Illiterate background of children – School environment and the role of the teacher is crucial in providing support to children from non-literate homes and communities.
  3. Diverts focus from completing the syllabus – If pedagogy is aimed at completing the syllabus, there is scarcely any scope for addressing the needs of students who are falling behind.
  4. This shortcoming can be overcome if students spend more time with English, Mathematics and Science teachers and get time to clear their fundamentals.


  1. Issue of mother tongue – For a child, acquiring foundational skills in a language that is not her mother tongue is a complex matter.
  2. Overburdened – Doubling the teaching time could tax the attention span of students, and may end up doing more harm than good.
  3. Science and Mathematics education has been dogged by rote learning.

Way ahead

  1. Teachers could utilize the extra teaching time to stimulate students to discover the laws of nature and Mathematics.
  2. Teachers will have to be provided the autonomy to venture beyond bookish explanations.
Jun, 10, 2019

Explained: Three Language Formula



  • The union government released a draft NPE, a report prepared by a committee headed by space scientist K. Kasturirangan.
  • Its reference to mandatory teaching of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking States set off a political storm in Tamil Nadu, which is traditionally opposed to the compulsory study of Hindi.
  • The govt. sought to neutralize the hostile reaction by dropping the controversial reference to Hindi.

Backdrop to the Hindi imposition row

  • The State has been traditionally opposed to any attempt to introduce Hindi as a compulsory language of learning or administration.
  • The origin of the linguistic row, however, goes back to the debate on official language.
  • In the Constituent Assembly, Hindi was voted as the official language by a single vote. However, it added that English would continue to be used as an associate official language for 15 years.
  • The Official Languages Act came into effect on the expiry of this 15-year period in 1965.
  • This was the background in which the anti-Hindi agitation took place.
  • However, as early as in 1959 Nehru had given an assurance in Parliament that English would continue to be in use as long as non-Hindi speaking people wanted it.

The Three Language Formula

  • It is commonly understood that the three languages referred to are Hindi, English and the regional language of the respective States.
  • Though the teaching of Hindi across the country was part of a long-standing system, it was crystallized into a policy in an official document only in the NEP, 1968.
  • This document said regional languages were already in use as the medium of education in the primary and secondary stages.
  • At the secondary stage, State governments should adopt and vigorously implement the three-language formula.
  • It included the study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking States.

For non-Hindi speaking States

  • In such States Hindi should be studied along with the regional language and English.
  • It added: Suitable courses in Hindi and/or English should also be available in universities and colleges with a view to improving the proficiency of students in these languages up to the university standards.

To Promote Hindi

  • The NPE 1968 said every effort should be made to promote the language and that in developing Hindi as the link language.
  • Article 351 of the Constitution provides for Hindi as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India.
  • The establishment, in non-Hindi States, of colleges and other institutions of higher education which use Hindi, as the medium of education should be encouraged.
  • Incidentally, the NPE 1986 made no change in the 1968 policy on the three-language formula and the promotion of Hindi and repeated it verbatim.

Tamil Nadu’s stand on this

  • Tamil Nadu has been traditionally opposed to any attempt to introduce Hindi as a compulsory language of learning or administration.
  • The origin of the linguistic row, however, goes back to the debate on official language.
  • TN leaders does not oppose the voluntary learning of Hindi and cite the unhindered work of the Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, established in Chennai by Mahatma Gandhi in 1918.
  • Also, there is no bar on private schools, most of them affiliated to the CBSE offering Hindi.
  • The State has been following the two-language formula for many decades, under which only English and one regional language are compulsory in schools.

English, the only link

  • An important aspect of the opposition to Hindi imposition is that many in Tamil Nadu see it as a fight to retain English.
  • English is seen as a bulwark against Hindi as well as the language of empowerment and knowledge.
  • There is an entrenched belief that the continued attempts to impose Hindi are essentially driven by those who want to eliminate English as the country’s link language.
Jun, 10, 2019

Draft NEP proposes formal education from age of three


Draft NEP on early childhood education

  • All Indian children could soon enter the formal education system at the age of three, with the draft National Education Policy (NEP) projecting an expansion of the RTE Act.
  • It aims to cover the three years of preschool before Class 1.
  • It wants early childhood education to be overseen and regulated by the Ministry of HRD as part of the school system.
  • This will be in addition to the private pre-schools and anganwadis that currently cater to the 3-to-6 years age group.
  • The draft Policy suggests a new integrated curricular framework for 3 to 8-year olds with a flexible system based on play, activity and discovery, and beginning exposure to three languages from age 3 onwards.

Upheaval of Anganwadi System

  • The NEP could result in an upheaval in the anganwadi system which has been overseen by the Ministry of WCD for more than four decades.
  • Additional costs will come in the form of teacher recruitment and training, infrastructure and learning materials, as well as nutritional aspects (including the proposal to provide breakfast to young children).
  • The draft Policy praises the contribution of anganwadis to improving health and nutrition, but notes that their record in education is not so strong.

Flaws in Anganwadis

  • They are currently quite deficient in supplies and infrastructure for education.
  • As a result, they tend to contain more children in the 2-4 year age range and fewer in the educationally critical 4-6 year age range.
  • They also have few teachers trained in or specially dedicated to early childhood education.

Anganwadis can do better

  • The new framework would be implemented by training and strengthening anganwadi capabilities and linking them to a local primary school, co-locating anganwadis and pre-schools with primary schools, or building stand-alone pre-schools also linked to a local primary school.
Jun, 04, 2019

[op-ed snap] Crisis defused: on Hindi imposition


The Centre has moved quickly to defuse a potentially volatile controversy over the charge of Hindi imposition.


Opposition from Tamil Nadu

The reference in the newly unveiled draft National Education Policy to mandatory teaching of Hindi in all States was withdrawn following an outcry from political leaders in Tamil Nadu, a State that is quite sensitive to any hint of ‘Hindi imposition’ by the Centre.

Flexibility in the choice of language – The modified draft under the heading ‘Flexibility in the choice of languages’, has omitted references to the language that students may choose.

Issue of three language formula –

  • However, the broader recommendation regarding the implementation of a three-language formula remains, something Tamil Nadu, which will not budge from its two-language formula, is averse to.
  • The gist of the original sentence in the draft NEP was that students could change one of the three languages of study in Grade 6, provided that in Hindi-speaking States they continued to study Hindi, English and one other Indian language of their choice, and those in non-Hindi-speaking States would study their regional language, besides Hindi and English.
  • The revised draft merely says students may change one or more of their three languages in Grade 6 or 7, “so long as they still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board examinations some time during secondary school”.
  • It may not amount to a complete reversal , but is still important in terms of conciliatory messaging.

Broader Issue

Official Language – Ever since the Constitution adopted Hindi as the official language, with English also as an official language for 15 years initially, there has been considerable tension between those who favour the indefinite usage of English and those who want to phase it out and give Hindi primacy.

The imposition of Hindi – In Tamil Nadu, it is seen as a creeping imposition of Hindi in subtle and not-so-subtle forms.

English as an associate language – The tension has been managed based on the statesmanship behind Jawaharlal Nehru’s assurance in 1959 that English would be an associate language as long as there are States that desire it.

Language a recurrent issue – One would have thought that with the ascent of coalition politics the instinct to stoke differences based on language would die out. Unfortunately, it keeps coming up, especially in the form of imposing the three-language formula on States.


Language is primarily a utilitarian tool. While acquisition of additional tools can indeed be beneficial, compulsory learning should be limited to one’s mother tongue and English as the language that provides access to global knowledge and as a link language within India. It is time attempts to force Indians proficient in their mother tongue and English to acquire proficiency in a third are given up.

May, 08, 2019

Karnataka limits weight of schoolbags


  • The Karnataka government has ordered all schools in the state to ensure that the weight of a child’s schoolbag does not exceed 10 per cent of the weight of the child.
  • The order prescribed that school bags of children in Classes 1-2 cannot weigh more than 2 kg, bags of children in Classes 3-5 should weigh than 2-3 kg, and so on.

Limiting weight of schoolbags

  • The weight of a child’s school bag has been a contested issue for long, and especially so in recent months.
  • Last year, the Union Ministry of HRD directed all states and UTs to “formulate guidelines to regulate the teaching of subjects and weight of school bags in accordance with the Government of India instructions”.
  • According to the central government’s advice, weights of school bags in Classes 1-2, 3-5, 6-7, 8-9, and 10 should not be more than 1.5 kg, 2-3 kg, 4 kg, 4.5 kg, and 5 kg respectively.
  • The Ministry also said that students should not be forced to carry study materials other than the prescribed textbooks to school, as per the day’s timetable.
  • Following the Centre’s directive, several state governments issued directions to schools to comply.

Why such move?

  • Most advanced countries have done away with the need for children to carry bags to school, replacing heavy books and notebooks with electronic aids such as tablet computers, and providing books at school itself.
  • The HRD Ministry’s 2018 directive was in line with its efforts over the past several years to reduce the weight of schoolbags.
  • The CBSE too, had a few years ago, nudged schools to find a way to ensure children did not have to carry heavy bags to school.
  • Child welfare NGOs have long warned that heavier-than-necessary schoolbags could induce premature back- and spine-related problems in schoolchildren.
  • CBSE has been engaged with the issue for over 15 years now, and several studies have attested to the health problems associated with heavy school bags.
Feb, 14, 2019

[op-ed snap] Exam and Peace


Mains Paper 2: Social Justice| Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of Education system in India.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the issues with the education system in India, in a brief manner.


  • As the board examinations approach, the dialectic of “success” and “failure” will begin to haunt young learners and their anxiety-ridden parents.


  • The pattern of education we have normalised is inherently pathological.
  • The creation of a violent/hierarchical/schooled consciousness seems to be its latent function.
  • Even though an empathic look at the educational ideals of Rabindranath Tagore, Sri Aurobindo and J Krishnamurti would suggest that there is no dearth of critical and creative thinking on liberating pedagogy.
  • However, we dislike experimentation and new possibilities, and make a superficial distinction between “pragmatism” and “idealism”.

Glorifying the success stories, stigma of “failure”

  • People have become used to the routinisation of the practice of glorifying the “success stories” of the “toppers”.
  • And at the same time, inviting the psychiatrists on television channels to reflect on the “suicide narratives” of those who could not bear the stigma of “failure”.

Meanwhile, everything would function as usual

  • the practice of “black education” would flourish in coaching centres,
  • the publishers of “guide books” would make a lot of money, and
  • school principals heavily burdened with the “ranking” of their schools would alert insecure parents of “problematic” children that in the age of inflated “cut off points” for admission in “branded” colleges, the future is bleak without 99 per cent marks in some subjects.

Why is it so?

There are three reasons:

  1. Here is a system that closes the mind of the young learner, and abhors the desirability of making meaningful choices relating to academic quest and vocation.
  • How are choices possible if schools have already hierarchised knowledge traditions i.e. Science or economics for the “intelligent” ones, and humanities for the “leftovers”.
  • Or does the child ever get the space to contemplate on her own inclinations and aptitudes at a time when peer pressure negates self-reflection and generates a crowd mentality.
  • Or when struggling parents have already decided that she has to pass through the most travelled “Aakash/Fitjee/IIT” highway, and all other paths are “risky” and “impractical”.

Strange classification of academic disciplines

  • Moreover, we have promoted a strange classification of academic disciplines.
  • It is impossible for one to opt for, say, Physics, History and Music.
  • It is taken for granted that if you have interest in literature, you cannot be equally inclined towards statistics.
  • In other words, we decide the fate of our children so early.
  • It is not surprisingly then, schooling prepares the ground for an alienated existence.

2. Here is a system obsessed with the quantification of knowledge and evaluation.

  • With the burden of information, examinations as ceremonies of power, and a reckless process of measuring even one’s “happiness” and “moral quotient”, schools have robbed the practice of education of the ecstasy of social awakening, scientific reasoning and poetic imagination.

Children as “exam warriors”

  • A careful look at weekly tests, classroom transactions and summer projects would suggest that the system asks a young child to become as an “exam-warrior”.
  • It is devoid of joy and humour, and creative play and aesthetic celebration.
  • While the “successful warriors” join the IITs and colleges like LSR, Presidency and Stephen’s, those who are not so lucky would be compelled to realise that it is painful to be young, wounded and stigmatised.
  • There is no peace in this system, even if schools hire counsellors, invite motivational speakers, and ask children to read self-help books in their “relaxed” times.

3. “Success” is equated with a purely instrumental orientation to life

  • “Success” is equated with a purely instrumental orientation to life, and the virtues of the doctrine of the “survival of the fittest” are celebrated with all sorts of media simulations.
  • Education becomes merely a “performance”, a packaged good for sale.
  • A teacher becomes merely a “subject expert” or a “skill-provider”.
  • There is no sunset that Jidu Krishnamurti wanted children to look at; and there is no union of the “physical, vital, mental and psychic” that Sri Aurobindo imagined.
  • What prevails is only a standardised scale of measurement intoxicated with the urge to eliminate innumerable young minds and throw them into the dustbin of a “meritocratic” universe.
  • And our exam-centric education sanctifies it.


  • As adults, teachers and policy-makers have betrayed the children of this nation.
  • It is time to rectify the Education system of India so that the country can reap the full potential of its demographic dividend.
Jan, 30, 2019

Indian students to participate in PISA 2021


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PISA, OCED

Mains level: Competency of Indian Education System in the World.


  • The HRD Ministry has signed a pact with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for the participation of students from Central government schools in PISA-2021.
  • With the signing of the pact, Indian students aged 15 will be able to take the Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA, which is conducted every three years.

PISA 2021

  1. It will be a competency-based test, which evaluates the learning level of 15YO students in reading, mathematics and science.
  2. The outcomes of the test will be used to do more teacher training programmes and curricular reforms.
  3. The questions in the test will be contextualized according to the Indian setting to help students understand them better.
  4. Schools run by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and schools in the UTs of Chandigarh will participate.
  5. The CBSE and NCERT will be part of the process and activities leading to the actual test.

For detailed news (covered on 8th Sept, 2018), navigate to:

India agrees to end PISA boycott, to participate in 2021

Jan, 25, 2019

[op-ed snap] Schools without a difference


Mains Paper 2: Social Justice| Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing as such.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the relevance of Navodaya Vidyalayas in the light of recent reports about suicides in NVs, in a brief manner.


  • The recent reports about suicides in Navodaya Vidyalayas demonstrate that they no longer exemplify the search for an alternative that the government once envisaged and has lost its purpose.


  • Boarding schools are part of India’s modern history.
  • When the central government launched the Navodaya Vidyalayas (NVs) in the mid-1980s, they were presented as a major innovation in social policy in that they were intended to serve rural children.
  • Three decades on, the NV innovation has fully merged into the mainstream, coping with its familiar problems rather than exemplifying an alternative.

NV idea preceded the National Policy on Education (1986)

  • Although the NV plan was part of the National Policy on Education (1986), its idea preceded the policy.
  • Rajiv Gandhi had mentioned it in his first address to the nation as prime minister.
  • His desire to set up a residential school in every district was apparently inspired by his own experience as a child at Doon School.
  • Many people expected that NVs will emulate Doon’s example of high academic standards along with space for creative exploration.

Enrolment was based on an entrance test

  • Enrolment to NV’s Grade 6 was based on an entrance test, with 80 per cent reservation for children belonging to villages located in a district.
  • Not everyone was convinced that enrolment through a selection test was a good idea.
  • NCERT conveyed its doubts about the reliability and validity of a selection procedure dependent on a test among 11-year olds.
  • The government went ahead and started setting up NVs across the country.
  • Soon after the scheme was launched, coaching centres sprang up in every district to help children succeed in the NV enrollment test.

How NVs were different from other schools?

  • Each school was allotted sizeable land in the countryside.
  • Generous funding and impressive infrastructure, including on-campus housing for teachers and not just children, distinguished NVs from other state-run residential schools, such as the boarding schools in tribal areas.
  • NVs were promoted as “pace-setting” schools, implying that they would serve as a model for other schools in the district.
  • Their facilities and funds were way ahead and they were not governed by the state directorate.
  • The contrast was also sharp in teachers’ emoluments.
  • From the central government’s perspective, NVs offered a congenial institutional ethos where policies could be showcased.
  • The implementation of the three-language formula in NVs included exchanging the entire Grade 9 cohort across linguistic regions for the entire session.

Dilemma the NVs faced after a few years of its inception

  • Should they serve as models of child-centred education in rural areas or prepare village children for national-level contests for seats in prestigious institutions of medicine and engineering?
  • Proposals to provide coaching to the senior secondary level students were mooted.
  • NGOs like Dakshana were given permission to select children with the best potential and coach them.
  • Grilling the selected round the year without break bore fruit, exacerbating the familiar stress of exams on children and teachers.
  • The Dakshana website proudly claims that many of its students have cracked the JEE Advanced to secure admissions into IITs.
  •  It is hard to explain to the users of this discourse that there may be more to life than cracking the JEE.

NVs had emulated the urban public school model

  • There was little concern to develop a new vision for rural children.
  • Instead, the dominant ideology prevailing among administrators and teachers was that they should work for the standard routes towards upward mobility.
  • Success in examinations, that too with high marks, had dogged the NV experiment from the beginning.
  • Like their counterpart, the Kendriya Vidyalayas, NVs dared not ignore the mainstream trends of India’s education.
  • Principals and teachers were supposed to dedicate themselves to pushing all the children to work hard for marks.

Recent Suicides in NVs

  • The one-size fits-all template of secondary education in India has exacerbated the pressures that adolescents routinely face and feel, leading many to feel lonely, depressive and suicidal.
  • Suicides before and after higher secondary exams are reported every year across India.
  • In the NV case, nearly half of the reported 49 cases over the last five years are from marginalised groups.
  • As usual, the administration places the blame on teachers who are themselves overburdened.
  • The absence of trained counsellors adds to the problem.
  • The NV administration has asked teachers to notice symptoms of depression among students.
  • Such steps might offer some help, but they will not mitigate the larger tragedy of a scheme that forgot its mission and took the beaten track.


  • The NV story reminds us how inimical the systemic ethos is to any genuine innovation.
  • Most schools justify putting children under pressure by referring to parental pressures.
  • This argument does not account for suicides at NVs.
  • Their original mandate had little to do with competitive success.
  • They were expected to provide a humanistic alternative to the moribund, bureaucratised culture of common government schools.
  • NVs had the potential to present a creative alternative to the mindlessly competitive atmosphere of English-medium urban public schools.
  • However, the bureaucracy that runs them had little imagination or vision to define their pace-setting role in an original, creative manner.
Jan, 23, 2019

[op-ed snap] ASER data shows early education is crucial, one-size-fits-all policy doesn’t work


Mains Paper 2: Social Justice| Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of the ASER 2018 assessment.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the recently released ASER 2018 data which shows how crucial is early education for the children of the country, in a brief manner.


  • The recently released Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2018 showed how crucial is early education for the children of the country.

Early Childhood Education

  • Early childhood education (ECE) is included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 that were approved by India among many countries around the globe.
  • SDG Target 4.2 states that by 2030 countries should “ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education”.This global goal emerged thanks to extensive international research in disciplines as varied as neuroscience, psychology and economics, which show that early childhood (defined internationally as the age group of 0-8 years) is a critical period.
  • During this time, the foundations of life-long learning are built, with 90 per cent of all brain development taking place by age six.

Early Childhood Care and Education in India

  • In India, the importance of early care and stimulation has been recognised in the National Policy on Early Childhood Care and Education (2013).
  • The policy aims to provide “developmentally appropriate preschool education for three to six-year-olds with a more structured and planned school readiness component for five to six-year-olds.”
  • The recently created Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan scheme has also brought renewed focus and attention on ECE through the Integrated Scheme on School Education that aims to treat school education “holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class 12”.

Main avenues for accessing early childhood education in India

There are currently two main avenues for accessing early childhood education in India.

  • Anganwadi centres: The most widespread comprises the 1.3 million anganwadi centres run by the Ministry of Women and Child Development across the country under the Integrated Child Development (ICDS) Scheme.
  • Private sector: The other is the burgeoning private sector, with more than 40 per cent of privately managed primary schools reportedly offering pre-primary LKG and UKG classes as well.
  • Some states in India offer a third possibility as well, in the form of preschool classes integrated within government primary schools, for example in Assam and Jammu & Kashmir.

RTE Act and ASER assessment

  • According to the RTE Act, enrolment in formal schools should begin at age six, with ECE exposure recommended for children between age three and six.
  • However, 26 of India’s 35 states and union territories allow children to enter Class 1 at age five.
  • National trends from the recently released Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2018) indicate that enrolment patterns broadly meet these policy prescriptions.
  • At age three, two-thirds of children were enrolled in some form of preschool; while seven out of every 10 were enrolled in primary school at age six.
  • However, fairly large proportions of children are already in primary grades even at age three and four; and many are still in preschool at age seven and even eight.

Major variations across the country

  • As with many estimates at the all-India level, these national trends hide major variations, both across the country as well as at different ages.
  • For example, at age three, national policy recommends that children should be in an ECE programme.
  • Gujarat comes close to meeting the norm, with well over 90 per cent children in some form of preschool, the majority in ICDS Anganwadis.
  • In contrast, in Uttar Pradesh, almost two thirds are not attending anywhere.
  • At age four, almost a quarter of all four-year-olds in Rajasthan are already in primary school, with almost equal proportions in government and private schools.
  • But in Assam, about seven out of 10 children are attending an anganwadi.
  • At age five, nationally, about a third of all children are already in primary school.
  • But in UP, close to two in every 10 children are not enrolled anywhere; and, in Rajasthan over 60 per cent children are in primary school.
  • At age six, although all children are expected to be in primary school, over 40 per cent of all six-year-olds in both Telangana and Assam continue in some form of pre-primary class.
  • These varied pathways in the early years have major consequences for what children experience and learn along the way.

ASER 2018 data

  • ASER 2018 data shows that nationally, more than a quarter of children entering primary school are five years old or younger.
  • From the perspective of the primary school, children in Class 1 are far from homogenous in terms of age.
  • Less than 40 per cent are at the mandated age of six years and a third are seven or older.


  • These age-grade distributions have implications for teaching and learning.
  • A four- or five-year-old child is simply not developmentally ready to handle Class 1 curriculum.
  • From the point of view of a teacher, moreover, teaching the same content to a class with wide variation in students’ age is not a trivial challenge.
  • The requirement that teachers complete the curriculum for a given grade in a given year and that the children master the content being taught does huge disservice to both.

Outcome in terms of learning: ASER assessment

  • In the elementary school sector, ASER has demonstrated for more than a decade that getting all children into school is undoubtedly a major achievement but it does not by itself ensure that children are able to learn at the expected level.
  • ASER data shows that gaps between what children can do and what is expected of them emerge very early in children’s school trajectories and widen as they move through the system.
  • A quick look at the Class 1 language textbook in any state provides a good indication of what children are expected to do during their very first year in school.
  • But ASER 2018 data shows that even several months into Class 1, nationally more than 40 per cent of children are unable to recognise letters of the alphabet, let alone read words or connected text.

Way Forward

  • As implementation of the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan rolls out across the country, ASER data on young children suggests that a “one size fits all” solution is unlikely to be successful.
  • Experts are of the view that while helping children get a head start in the early years is important, it is critical to ensure that all stakeholders (parents, teachers, policymakers and textbook developers) understand that the key words are “quality” and “developmentally appropriate”.
  • The continuum envisaged for the early years curriculum should start from and build on what children bring with them when they enter preschool and school. So that they are able to grow and thrive.
Jan, 19, 2019

[op-ed snap] Limits of class


Mains Paper 2: Social Justice| Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources..

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of the RTE Amendment Bill.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the issues and challenges in the recently passed RTE amendment bill, in a brief manner.


  • The RTE Amendment Bill, recently passed in Rajya Sabha, has again triggered the periodic debate between anti-detentionists (votaries of No-Detention Policy) and detentionists.
  • The amendment allows states to decide whether to withdraw automatic promotion at the end of 5th and 8th grades, which is the point of contention.

Arguments of Detentionists and Anti-detentionists

(a) Detentionists

  • Detentionists argue that if children know that they will automatically pass, they don’t study, thus learning achievements come down.
  • Since Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) is not implemented seriously, if no-detention is practised then certificate of elementary education will certify no learning.

(b) Anti-detentionists

  • Anti-detentionists argue that fear of failure causes stress and trauma and failure demotivates and pushes children out of system.
  • That stigma of failure mainly harms Dalit and tribal children.
  • They also argue that detention will weaken many other provisions of RTE, like admission in age-appropriate class.
  • According to them, “failing children does not make them learn” and that no-detention is claimed to produce improved learning achievements.

Why Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) cannot be implemented?

  • The shortage of teachers and lack of training are cited as the main reasons for failure of the implementation of CCE.
  • Though these claims are true, a fundamental contradiction in the RTE is ignored in this debate.
  • Unless that contradiction is removed, the CCE cannot be implemented in its true spirit.

The case of term “Class” in RTE

  • “Class” is a very important term in the RTE. The norms for teachers, teacher-pupil ratio, infrastructure and elementary education, are all defined in terms of class.
  • “Elementary education,” according to the RTE means the education from first class to eighth class.
  • Regarding the admission of a child above six years, the act demands that “he or she shall be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age”.
  • The act is aware that such a child may not be at par with other children in the class, implying that class is associated with some standards of learning.
  • The act itself is “to provide for free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years”.
  • Reading this together with the definition of elementary education will give the duration of “class” as one year.

From these and other references to “class” in the act, it can be conclusively established that:

  • Duration of study in a class is one year.
  • A class has its specific curriculum in which learning expectations increase as the order of class increases.
  • That the school is organised class-wise.

Promotion to the next class is not a matter of age

  • Though the RTE does not say anything about textbooks, we do know that they are written class-wise.
  • Therefore, promotion to the next class is not a matter of age, but of learning achievements; implying that the very concept of class as used in RTE contains the idea of detention, if need be.
  • With this definition of class and elementary education, the ideas of no-detention and admission in age-appropriate class completely de-emphasise learning expectations.
  • All that remains is eight years in the school, that too if the child is admitted in class one.

Contradictions in “no-detention” policy

  1. For the child admitted in “a class appropriate to age”, all that remains is attaining the age of 14 years. This happens because “no-detention” is introduced in a school system defined in terms of class.
  2. CCE demands that assessment should be continuous and it should feedback into pedagogy to help the child learn better.

CCE is not for promotion or its denial

  • With age-appropriate admission and no-detention, children in any given class are bound to be at different levels of achievement.
  • If the CCE is to help every child learn, then it cannot be based on the same tasks and assessment criteria for the whole class. But that is precisely the demand of class-wise teaching.
  • CCE on the other hand, demands individual attention in assessment and pedagogy.
  • Therefore, the class-wise structure of curriculum and school on one hand, and CCE on the other, pull the system in opposite directions.

Two ways to resolve this contradiction

(a) Accept the true definition of class or grade


  • That implies, to complete a defined curriculum in one year, and detention on unsatisfactory completion. This is what the government has done.


  • While this is retrograde and hardly improves learning, it resolves the contradiction in the teachers’ minds, and allows them to practice the age old authoritarian rigid system in its true glory.

(b) Working out the implications of a pedagogically sound CCE

The other way is to carefully work out the implications of a pedagogically sound CCE and take on the arduous task to reform the system to implement it.

That would require:

  • defining elementary education in terms of learning standards;
  • organising curriculum as a free-paced learning path, and not boxed into classes;
  • organising schools as ungraded heterogeneous learning groups, composed of children at various levels; and
  • introduce the ideas of self-learning and peer group learning, a necessity to manage a heterogeneous learning group.


  • All this will require systemic reforms and to prepare teachers for this change through massive and serious in-service professional development.
  • Although this is the difficult path, but it does not contain internal contradictions, and may solve the problem of low quality.
Jan, 18, 2019

[op-ed snap]Learning little


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge about the findings of ASER.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the findings of ASER and what could be the way forward, in a brief manner.


  • The latest ASER assessment of how children are faring in schools in rural areas indicates there has been no dramatic improvement in learning outcomes.
  • It has observed that the reading and arithmetic abilities in rural schools are shockingly dismal.

Findings of the Annual Status of Education Report

  • According to the Annual Status of Education Report, Rural (2018), the picture that has emerged is one of a moribund system of early schooling in many States, with no remarkable progress from the base year of 2008.
  • Except for a small section at the top of the class, the majority of students have been let down.
  • The survey for 2018 had a reach of 5.4 lakh students in 596 rural districts.
  • The administrators must be alerted by the fact that while 53.1% of students in Class 5 in rural government schools could in 2008 read a text meant for Class 2, the corresponding figure for 2018 stood at 44.2%.
  • For comparison, private schools scored 67.9% and 65.1% for the same test in those years.
  • Arithmetic ability showed a similar trend of under-performance, although there has been a slight uptick since 2016: an improvement of about 1.5 percentage points in government schools and 1.8 percentage points in private institutions, among Class 5 students.
  • Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Haryana did better on the arithmetic question with over 50% students clearing it, compared to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and even Karnataka, which scored below 20%.
  • A significant percentage of students were not even able to recognise letters appropriate for their class, highlighting a severe barrier to learning.

What needs to be done?

  • Setting up a Review mechanism:Now that the ASER measure is available for 10 years, the Centre should institute a review mechanism involving all States for both government and private institutions, covering elementary education and middle school.
  • A public consultation on activity-based learning outcomes, deficits in early childhood education, and innovations in better performing States can help.
  • At present, children start learning in a variety of environments: from poorly equipped anganwadi centres to private nurseries. Therefore, any policy framework should also consider this aspect

Right to Education Act

  • The enactment of the Right to Education Act was followed by a welcome rise in enrolment, which now touches 96% as per ASER data.
  • Empowering as it is, the law needs a supportive framework to cater to learners from different backgrounds who often cannot rely on parental support or coaching.
  • There is concern that curricular expectations on literacy and numeracy have become too ambitious, requiring reform.

Way Forward

  • The solutions may lie in multiple approaches.
  • The need is to look at innovation in schools and incentivising good outcomes.
Jan, 17, 2019

What ASER says about quality of learning in India


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Annual Status of Education Report

Mains level: State of Indian education system and measures required for improvisation


  • The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018 published by education non-profit Pratham shows the prevalence of learning deficit and the poverty of basic reading and arithmetic skills among students in Indian schools.

What does the ASER 2018 report say?

  1. The report shows that Indian students, especially those in elementary school (Classes I-VIII), are not learning enough.
  2. To cite a metric, only half (50.3%) of all students in Class V can read texts meant for Class II students.
  3. There seems to have been some improvement in learning levels, especially among students of Class III and Class V, in 2018 compared with those of the previous five years.
  4. However, the improvement is not visible at a higher level, for example among students of Class VIII.
  5. The latest report collected data from 596 districts by surveying 546,527 students from 354,944 homes.

Is this learning deficit prevalent only in government schools?

  1. The deficit is across government and private schools.
  2. Traditionally, students in private schools have fared better than their government school counterparts, but that’s a relative situation.
  3. For example, while 40% of Class VIII students in government schools can do simple division, the figure is 54.2% in private schools.
  4. But this success rate is three percentage points below that of 2012 and the same as in 2014.
  5. Private school students are believed to have better family background, both in economic and education front.

Why is learning level in schools important?

  1. The quality of the learning level bears directly on India’s future workforce, its competitiveness and the economy.
  2. India’s demographic dividend depends on the learning level of students.

Are learning levels improving in government schools?

  1. There is gradual improvement in some segments and in some states.
  2. The reading ability among Class V students in Kerala jumped 10 percentage points in 2018 from that in 2016.
  3. In Himachal Pradesh, the growth is nearly 8 percentage points and in Chhattisgarh and Odisha it is around 7 percentage points between 2016 and 2018.
  4. Still, data from states such as Jharkhand, West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu shows a marginal dip in the same criterion for the same cohort.

Do private schools have more students?

  1. The situation has been almost static in the last five years.
  2. While 30.9% of students in the 6-14 age group were in private schools in 2018, the figure was 30.6% in 2016 and 30.8% in 2014.
  3. This is less than a percentage point growth since 2014.
Jan, 07, 2019

70 point Performance Index to assess states on schooling system


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 70 Point Grading Index

Mains level: Schooling Reforms


  • A 70 Point Grading Index for assessing schooling systems across states, four year integrated BEd to train teachers for Std. 1 to 10 and the Digital Board are three of the key missions that the government will drive to implementation before it enters the next general election cycle.

70 point Performance Grading Index (PGI)

  1. The government will use a 70 point Performance Grading Index (PGI) to assess areas of deficiency in each state’s school education system.
  2. The 70 indicators will grade state schooling systems on areas like number of existing teacher vacancies, number of direct entry recruitments especially at leadership positions, school infrastructure etc.
  3. The Index will assess states on a 1,000 point grading system with 10-20 points per parameter- is aimed at helping states understand where they may be lagging behind.
  4. It will thus prioritize areas for intervention to ensure that the school education system is robust at every level.
  5. The NITI Aayog which was earlier developing its own School Education Quality Index, will be using 33 of the 70 criteria under the PGI for their own assessments.

Why such move?

  • The move is in keeping with the government’s overall thrust on quality improvement, teacher training and learning outputs.

Enhanced training of Teachers

  1. The HRD ministry is also readying plans to launch a four year integrated Bachleors in Education (Bed) course next year.
  2. This will be an integrated course to prepare teachers holistically for teaching from Class 1 to Class 10 level.
  3. This course will have a strong focus on internship and be launched with teacher training institutes under Central Universities and state universities besides private institutes that opt to go for it.
  4. The idea is as much to create a pool of well equipped teachers for the schooling system as to create a parity between teachers of all grades.
  5. The course structure will ensure modern pedagogical tools, e-learning material and global best practices.

Other measures

  1. NCERT is helping the HRD ministry set up a Central institute of Assessment to strengthen Continuous and Comprehensive Education/.
  2. It will handhold states in ensuring customized teacher training and work on pedagogical improvements.
  3. The Mission to equip every school with a Digital Board is also on full throttle to reach e learning material in various languages to schools.
Sep, 04, 2018

[op-ed snap] Still too many children out of school


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RTE Act, Rights of children

Mains level: The worrying condition of out-of-school children and ways to reduce their number


Data on out-of-school children

  1. The official numbers of out-of-school children in India are either out of date or contradictory
  2. According to the 2011 Census, the number of out-of-school children in the 5-17 age group was 8.4 crore
  3. However, according to a survey commissioned in 2014 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, the number of out-of-school children in the 6-13 age group was only 60.64 lakh

Using NSS data to find a better estimate

  1. On the basis of the 71st round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) carried out in 2014 and taking into account the 6-18 age group, out-of-school children in this age group were more than 4.5 crores in the country
  2. The proportion of out-of-school children was higher in rural India (17.2%) than in urban India (13.1%)
  3. The proportion of children from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) was the highest, followed by Other Backward Classes (OBCs)
  4. Among religious groups, the proportion of Muslims was as high as 24.1% in rural areas and 24.7% in urban areas
  5. Out-of-school children came mostly from low-income, landless and marginal families

Reasons for dropping out of school

  1. The most important reason for boys to drop out of school was to take up jobs to supplement the family earning
  2. For girls, it was the compulsion to participate in household work
  3. There is also a prejudice against educating girls that is prevalent in India
  4. An important reason for drop-out is the socio-economic conditions of the parents of the children
  5. The most important social reason for drop-out is a lack of awareness of the importance of school education and of the fact that education is now a legal right

Reason for child labour too?

  1. According to the RTE Act and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, these out-of-school children fall under the category of child labour
  2. It is, therefore, not surprising that the largest number of child labourers in the world is in India

What can be done to bring more children to school?

  1. We would not have been confronted with this high proportion of drop-outs if all the provisions of the RTE Act had been implemented within the time limit prescribed in the Act (latest by April 2015)
  2. The Act provided for the availability of a school at a distance of 1 km from the residence of the child at the primary level and 3 km at the upper primary level
  3. If these provisions had been implemented, a major reason for drop-out (the distance of school) would have been eliminated
  4. Until an adequate number of schools at the prescribed distances from the children’s homes becomes available, it would be necessary to provide secure modes of subsidised travel to schools, particularly for girls
  5. Another important provision which ought to have been included in the RTE is financial support to poor parents, adequate to enable them to send their children to school

Way Forward

  1. It is a matter of serious concern that nearly 10 years after the enactment of the RTE Act, and 16 years after the right to education was elevated to a fundamental right, such a large number of children are out of school
  2. Education is a quintessential example of being vested with intrinsic as well as instrumental value — being both the means and the end
  3. Steps need to be taken to provide education to India’s potential demographic dividend
Aug, 02, 2018

[op-ed snap] The reversal of no-detention policy is regressive


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE)

Mains level: Possible effects of scrapping of no-detention policy (NDP) and why it is needed


No detention policy scrapped

  1. Parliament has recently amended the RTE to effectively cancel the NDP and allow for detention of children in classes III, V and VIII
  2. This amendment enables one of the most regressive actions possible in education
  3. The education policy in this country has taken many steps forward in the past few decades. This is one big step back

NDP a ray of hope

  1. Till the no-detention policy (NDP) of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE) came into force, failure and detention were an intimate part of the lives of students
  2. Detention didn’t help any of them learn any better in the slightest; it made things worse

Impact of detention

  1. The effects of flunking are immediately traumatic to the children and the retained children do worse academically in the future, with many of them dropping out of school altogether
  2. Among students at similar achievement levels, those who are detained do not learn more than those who are promoted
  3. Detained children are almost four times more likely to be from disadvantaged backgrounds
  4. The threat of detention is not a motivating force in any way for children to learn
  5. Detention has deeply damaging social and psychological effects
  6. Detention is completely dysfunctional educationally and deeply corrosive psychologically

Addressing issues of children should be the priority

  1. School education is often an intense struggle for many children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds
  2. The system fails in addressing the issues of these children and teaching them well

Way Forward

  1. Punishing children with no power to protest for the failure of everyone else in the system is just a convenient and cynical transfer of culpability
  2. It would be difficult to find another educational practice on which the evidence is so unequivocally negative
Jul, 26, 2018

Banka Unnayan among three finalists in Commonwealth awards in innovation category


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Banka Unnayan programme, Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM), Unnat Bharat Abhiyan

Mains level: Various interventions by the government to improve education sector


New online learning method

  1. Banka Unnayan programme has got an award from Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM)
  2. It was the government of India that had nominated Unnayan project as its only entry for innovation incubation category

About the program

  1. It is an interactive online and offline study method through interactive concept videos, real-time doubt-clearing, examination and digital report card generation
  2. It has been teaching Class IX and Class X students through smart classes and Eckovation app
  3. Banka district has been running Unnayan programme in its 70 schools under a project that was started in August 2017
  4. The model is being replicated by Unnat Bharat Abhiyan in schools of about 5,000 villages across the country
Jul, 25, 2018

Explained: Ending “No detention Policy” in schools


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Read the attached story.


  1. A bill to amend the Right to Education (RTE) Act to abolish the ‘no detention policy’ in schools was passed in the Lok Sabha recently as per the recommendations of the TSR Subramanian Committee.
  2. Under the current provisions of the RTE Act, no student can be detained till class 8 and all students are promoted to the next grade.
  3. This provision has resulted into a severe threat in the Accountability of our elementary education system.

Provisions in the new Amendment

  1. Now onwards, under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (second amendment) Bill, 2017, it will be at the discretion of the states whether to continue with no detention or not.
  2. This Bill provides for a regular examination in classes 5 and 8 and if the child fails, he or she shall be given an additional opportunity for re-examination in two months’ time.
  3. It aims brings accountability to our elementary education system.

What is no detention policy?

  1. The right to education act has been amended to provide the guarantee of uninterrupted schooling under sections 16 and 30(1) until Class 8.
  2. According to this, no student can be failed or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education covering classes I to VII. They shall automatically be promoted to next class till VIII standard.

Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE)

  1. The RTE Act has a provision for CCE which is aimed to assess the child’s understanding of what was being taught in class at periodic intervals.
  2. But it has certain concerns of flawed evaluation due to inadequate training of teachers and other infrastructural bottlenecks such as non-compliance of school under RTE.
  3. The Government is seeking to improve CCE as per global standards.

Why ‘no detention policy’ should be scrapped

  1. It has led to increased failure rate in classes 9th and 10th. Hence, if the ‘no detention policy’ continues, it will leave a negative impact on the standard of education and force the children to face more harsh future.
  2. This policy has led to students developing a casual attitude, with there being no risk of failing. The teachers have also become lethargic & started showing lesser interest towards academics.
  3. Reducing Institutional significance: Schools have become only schools for mid-day meal as education and learning are missing.
  4. Zero academic outcomesIf no merit is checked while giving promotion to another class, the children will never learn the importance of studying and acquiring knowledge. It will lead to poor academic outcome in classes.
  5. In some of the states like Sikkim, Kerala and Telangana, the students, who were studying in private schools, have come back to government schools to avoid detention.

Arguments in Favor of No Detention Policy

  1. Reducing dropouts from the schools due to peer pressure was the main reason the Right to Education Act included the no-detention provision if it is reversed many students would stop going to schools when they fail due to pressure from peers and family.
  2. Section 29 (2) (h) of the RTE Act makes a comprehensive and continuous evaluation (CCE) mandatory, wherein schools are expected to use test results to improve teaching and learning of the child and visualise evaluation as a diagnostic tool to improve learning.
  3. If a student is made to repeat a grade, there’s a strong chance he or she will discontinue learning thereby increasing dropout rates especially in the case of Girls.

Way Forward

  1. Shouldering the students with the responsibility of their own performance is absurd.
  2. The steps that can be taken to improve their performance outcomes can be:
  • measuring learning level outcomes of all children on a regular basis,
  • catalysing a “performance-driven culture” and rewarding high performers at every level,
  • changing stakeholders’ mindset and preparing them for new provisions, in which parents are made responsible or accountable for full attendance of their children.
  1. Schooling alone cannot improve the learning of the student. His/her family has a vital role to be played.
  2. In the UK, a student is promoted to the next grade irrespective of his level of progress. If students underperform, their assessment grades are compared with national data of progress levels and a ‘targeted intervention’ is made.
  3. Though ambitious, such a model can be taken into consideration by creating a national repository of school going children enhanced with certain performance parameters.
Jul, 20, 2018

[pib] Samagra Shiksha Scheme


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Minutes of the Scheme

Mains level: Improving higher education system and making it more inclusive i.e. a step towards achieving “Sabko Shiksha, Achi Shiksha


Samagra Shiksha Scheme

  1. The Department of School Education and Literacy (MoHRD) has formulated the Samagra Shiksha – an Integrated Scheme for School Education as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and it is being implemented throughout the country with effect from the year 2018-19.
  2. This programme subsumes the three erstwhile Centrally Sponsored Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
  3. It is an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class XII and aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education.
  4. It envisages the ‘school’ as a continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary to senior secondary levels. 
  5. The major interventions, across all levels of school education, under the scheme, are:
  • Universal Access including Infrastructure Development and Retention;
  • Gender and Equity, Inclusive Education;
  • Financial support for Teacher Salary;
  • Digital initiatives;
  • Entitlements under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 including uniforms, textbooks etc.;
  • Pre-school, Vocational and Sports and Physical Education;
  • Strengthening of Teacher Education and Training;
  • Monitoring and Programme Management.

The main emphasis of the Scheme is on improving the quality of school education and the strategy for all interventions would be to enhance the Learning Outcomes at all levels of schooling.

Some of the major features include:

  1. Holistic Approach: Treat school education holistically as a continuum from Pre-school to Class 12
  2. Quality Education: Capacity building of teachers in the online and offline mode as well as the strengthening of Teacher Education Institutions SCERT/DIET/BRC/CRC/CTEs/IASEs.
  3. Digital Education: Support ‘Operation Digital Board’ in all secondary schools over a period of 5 years, which will revolutionize education- easy to understand, technology-based learning classrooms will become flipped classrooms.
  4. Swachhata Initiatives: Specific provision for Swachhta activities – support ‘Swachh Vidyalaya’
  5. Girls Education: Upgradation of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBY) from Class 6-8 to Class 6-12. And Stipend for CWSN girls to be provided from Classes I to XII. – earlier only IX to XII.
  6. Skill Enhancement: Vocational education which was limited to Class 9-12, to be started from class 6 as integrated with the curriculum and to be made more practical and industry oriented.
  7. Physical Education: Every school will receive sports equipments under the scheme to inculcate and emphasize the relevance of sports in the school curriculum
  8. Promoting Regional Balances: Preference to Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs), LWEs, Special Focus Districts (SFDs), Border areas and the 115 aspirational districts identified by Niti Aayog
Jun, 23, 2018

[op-ed snap] Let the elite pay


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Status of primary and higher education in India and ways to improve it


Statistics on higher education in India

  1. The government (state plus Centre) spends a third of its budget on education, and a further third of that on higher education
  2. We have a messed-up education system and have had one in place since Independence

Mistakes committed so far

  1. Our first mistake was to not expand primary and secondary education for the common people
  2. We proceeded to build temples of wisdom for the elite (higher education in general, IITs in particular)
  3. This expansion was at the expense of providing basic education to all

What this resulted in?

  1. The children of the poorest of the poor, the ones most discriminated against on the basis of caste or religion, did not receive basic quality education, so they could not proceed to higher education
  2. The ones that were able to go to school — and they did so in poorly-staffed government schools — did not receive a quality education, and therefore were not able to compete with the rich kids when it came to college

Situation in India

  1. India must be one of the very few countries in the world (along with its Subcontinental neighbors) where the average good quality high school education costs more than five times the average good quality college education
  2. In most civilized economies, the ratio is the opposite

Way Forward

  1. We need to change our education system which is for the rich, by the elite, with sops and band-aids for the not-so-fortunate
  2. Each student should pay for her college education the same she paid for her high school education
  3. The revenue gains for the government from this much-needed education reform are large
  4. This extra money should allow the government to redo the Indian education system from the primary level onwards
Apr, 20, 2018

[op-ed snap] Marginalised from school


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 12(1) (c)

Mains level: The article is written by a senior opposition leader. He is talking(with proper facts) regarding bad governance in implementing the Section 12(1) (c) of the RTE Act. The section contains some very important provisions of the act.


Implementation of the Right to Education Act (RTE):  Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act

  1. five States (Goa, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Telangana) have not even issued notifications regarding admissions under the RTE
  2. Section 12(1)(c) of the Act mandates private unaided schools to reserve 25% of seats for children from economically weaker sections (EWS), in the age bracket of six to 14 years
  3. This enabled economically marginalised communities to access high quality private schools, at the expense of the State
  4. While Telangana may be excused due to its recent formation,
  5. it is unjustifiable that the other States have failed to undertake the most basic steps to implement Section 12(1)(c) of an Act passed eight years ago

Majority of states have not notified the per-child costs: A provision under the RTE Act

  1. States have to notify per-child costs to pay the private schools, on behalf of the children admitted under this provision
  2. However, out of 29 States and seven Union Territories, only 14 have notified their per-child costs
  3. The provision does not apply to Jammu and Kashmir and there are no private schools in Lakshadweep;
  4. therefore, as per the data provided, a shocking 20 States/UTs have still not notified the per-child costs, a blatant violation of the letter and spirit of the RTE

Issues with reimbursing the claims of state governments

  1. It is also shocking to note that in 2017-18, of the 15 States which submitted their reimbursement claims to the Central government, only six were approved
  2. Many of the claims of the States were not provided funds by the Centre, as they had not notified the per-child costs
    Possible reason
  3. The absence of a streamlined disbursement framework both at the Central and State levels is one of the biggest reasons that reimbursements are not processed
  4. If the States are not provided sufficient funds, private schools would be forced to bear the costs of the children

Very less number of seats are being filled under Section 12(1)(c) of the act

  1. The data regarding the number of children admitted under Section 12(1)(c) of the Act are also distressing
  2. The number of children studying under this provision increased by 6,12,053 from 2014-2015 to 2015-16, but by 5,02,880 from 2015-16 to 2016-17
  3. The State of the Nation 2015 report by IIM Ahmedabad puts the total number of seats under this provision as 1.6 crore over the next eight years
  4. This means that 20 lakh seats should be available annually for EWS children in private schools under the Act;
  5. However, only 5-6 lakh seats are being filled on an annual basis

The way forward

  1. The executive is responsible for the implementation of RTE and the legislature has the duty to hold the executive accountable
  2. Neither – judging by the evidence – has done its job properly
  3. The RTE aimed to provide a framework for private schools to supplement the efforts of the state to uplift disadvantaged sections of society through the means of education
  4. We need to act immediately to address the gaps in the implementation of the law
  5. The future of our children depends on it


Admission of students under Section 12(1)(c) of RTE Act, 2009

  1. According to Section 12 (1)(c) of the Act, all specified category or private schools must reserve 25% of their seats for children belonging to EWS from the neighbourhood and provide them admission from Class I onwards;
  2. wherever such a school provides pre-school education, these rules are to be applied to the pre-school section as well
  3. To maintain the spirit of inclusiveness, proper implementation and monitoring of this section is significant. At present, the consolidated data on number of children enrolled under this section is not available
  4. Hence, there is a need for an online system to monitor the (a) admissions under this section, (b) entitlements given (c) children under the section leaving school
Apr, 04, 2018

HRD Ministry forms panel to examine CBSE’s exam conduct process


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

Mains level: Rising instances of exam paper leaks and ways to curb them


Panel to suggest reforms in the CBSE exams process

  1. The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has set up a “high-powered committee” to examine the process by which the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) conducts examinations
  2. The panel will also suggest measures to make the process “secure and foolproof through the use of technology”
  3. The development comes amid criticism over the conduct of the CBSE exams, following reports of leaks


Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

  1. CBSE is a national level board of education in India for public and private schools, controlled and managed by Union Government of India
  2. CBSE affiliates all Kendriya Vidyalayas, all Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, private schools and most of the schools approved by central government of India
  3. CBSE has asked all schools affiliated to follow only NCERT curriculum
  4. CBSE conducts the final examinations for Class 10 and Class 12 every year
  5. Currently, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) conducts Joint Engineering Entrance (JEE) Exam, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), Central Teacher Eligibility Test (twice a year) UGC’s National Eligibility Test (twice a year) and the entrance test for Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas
Mar, 30, 2018

Cabinet approves education reforms


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SSA,  Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, etc.

Mains level: Reforms approved by the central government.


Cabinet decision on education reforms

  1. The Cabinet has recently approved a slew of reforms for school education in the country, in what could be considered as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan 2 project
  2. The reforms aims to support the States in universalising access to school education from pre-nursery to Class 12 across the country

Particulars of the reforms

  1. The SSA, the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan and teacher training would be integrated into a single scheme from Classes 1 to 12
  2. The integrated scheme will be in place from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2020, with an estimated allocation of Rs. 75,000 crore over the period, a 20% increase over the current allocation
  3. There would be a shift to digital blackboards from Class 9 to college education in the next five years
  4. The government will provide a 20% incentive to the States for a learning-outcome based education

Other steps taken by the government

  1. The Centre has also approved an increase in the outlay for making educational loans interest-free for students with modest financial means for studying in universities and colleges charging high fees
  2. The interest subsidy will last till one year of their passing out of college
Mar, 29, 2018

Cabinet approves Integrated Scheme on School Education, subsumes existing schemes


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Integrated Scheme on School Education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE), RTE Act

Mains level: Improving school education standards and various schemes related to it


Integrated Scheme on School Education

  1. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday approved the proposal of the Department of School Education and Literacy to formulate an Integrated Scheme on School Education
  2. It will be implemented by subsuming the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE) from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2020

About the scheme

  1. The vision of the Scheme is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education from nursery to senior secondary stage in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal for Education
  2. The main emphasis of the Integrated Scheme is on improving quality of school education by focussing on the two T’s – Teacher and Technology

Objectives of scheme

  1. Provision of quality education and enhancing learning outcomes of students
  2. Bridging social and gender gaps in school education
  3. Ensuring equity and inclusion at all levels of school education
  4. Ensuring minimum standards in schooling provisions
  5. Promoting vocationalisation of education
  6. Support states in the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009

Flexibility available to states

  1. The Scheme gives flexibility to the states and UTs to plan and prioritize their interventions within the scheme norms and the overall resource envelope available to them
Mar, 21, 2018

HRD ministry rules out ranking of Kendriya Vidyalayas


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF)

Mains level: The ministry officials had said last year that government was considering a ranking system for KVs.


Ranking of the Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) 

  1. The government has ruled out any plan to rank Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) in the country on lines of universities and colleges
  2. The HRD ministry was earlier mulling ranking its over 1,000 Kendriya Vidyalayas
  3. with an aim at improving the institutes by holding a competition among them on lines of its National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF)


  1. The ministry officials had said last year that with a maximum 1,000 points, the KVs would be graded under four categories, with 80% and above (excellent) under A category, 60-79.9% (very good) in B category, 40- 59.9% (good) in C, and below 40% (average) in D
  2. It was suggested that over 1,000 KVs would be assessed under seven parameters, including academic performance, which will carry the highest weightage of 500 points, followed by school infrastructure (150 points) and school administration (120 points)


National Institutional Ranking Framework

  1. The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) is a methodology adopted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, to rank institutions of higher education in India
  2. The Framework was approved by the MHRD and launched by Minister of Human Resource Development on 29 September 2015
  3. There are separate rankings for different types of institutions depending on their areas of operation like universities and colleges, engineering institutions, management institutions, pharmacy institutions and architecture institutions
  4. The Framework uses several parameters for ranking purposes like resources, research, and stakeholder perception
  5. These parameters have been grouped into five clusters and these clusters were assigned certain weightages
  6. The weightages depend on the type of institution. About 3500 institutions voluntarily participated in the first round of rankings
  7. The 2017 ranked lists were released by MHRD on 3 April 2017
Feb, 16, 2018

[op-ed snap] A deepening crisis


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kothari and JS Verma commission on education

Mains level: Dismal state of education and teacher training in India


Public spending on education

  1. In 1966, the Kothari Commission had said in its voluminous report that India should aim at spending 6% of its GDP on education
  2. We are currently spending less than 3% of our GDP on education

Kothari commission recommendation timing

  1. At the time the commission chaired by him was drafting its report, India was passing through a difficult period
  2. Famines, wars and political uncertainty were taking their toll
  3. The economy was stuck in sluggish growth
  4. The idealism of the freedom struggle was waning

Present conditions

  1. India is more prosperous today and people’s aspirations are higher
  2. Education is valued across different sections and strata
  3. Despite this favourable social climate, education has failed to become a matter of national concern

Budgets over years

  1. Budgets have been offering a marginal increase in different routine expenses and reduction on some
  2. There is no sign of funds to enable institutional recovery after a prolonged period of damage caused by financial cuts in higher education
  3. No funds are in sight to sustain the bold dream of making the Right to Education a sustainable reality

Focus on teachers training

  1. In this year’s budget, the Finance Minister referred to the importance of teacher education
  2. Teacher training constitutes a relatively invisible, low-status sector of the system
  3. It seldom receives high-level attention
  4. A few prestigious colleges that were set up under British rule a century ago have lost their sheen

JS Verma commission

  1. A commission was appointed by the Supreme Court under the chairpersonship of the late Chief Justice of India, J.S. Verma
  2. The report of this commission brought to public attention the dismal state of teacher education
  3. Rampant commercialisation and rigid bureaucratic control combined to stifle any possibility of academic growth in teacher education

Achieving quality in teacher training

  1. The Finance Minister made a special mention of the four-year integrated B.Ed. (Bachelor of Education) the programme as a way forward for achieving quality in teacher training
  2. National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has been running such courses at regional level

Why does India not worry about its educational crisis?

  1. In the first few decades following Independence, resources were limited and they were used for other, more immediate needs
  2. Then, for a little while, it seemed as if education might become a priority because social demand for it had increased
  3. However, before this demand could acquire a political voice, the state got seduced by the option to privatise education

Way forward

  1. The damage our institutional apparatus has suffered over the last three decades has begun to hurt our long-term national economic interests and social goals
  2. The United Nations discourse of sustainable development should remind us that our national aspirations might get a jolt if we fail to prioritise education
Feb, 07, 2018

Google, NCERT partner for internet safety training in schools


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NCERT, digital citizenship

Mains level: Rising use of internet and threats emerging from it


Course on ‘digital citizenship and safety’

  1. Google and National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) have signed a pact to integrate a course on ‘digital citizenship and safety’ in information and communication technology curriculum
  2. NCERT has curriculum on IT and communication technologies embedded in teachers training programme
  3. The curriculum developed by NCERT in collaboration with Google will be used to train students from class I to class XII across 1.4 million schools in India

Components of curriculum

  1. The curriculum is spread into four themes—being smart, being safe, being a digital citizen and being future ready
  2. This will help student identify good content and bad content
  3. In advance classes, it will focus on privacy, device management, intellectual property and reputation management


National Council of Educational Research and Training

  1. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is an autonomous organisation of the Government of India established on 1 September 1961
  2. It is registered as a literary, scientific and charitable Society under the Societies’ Registration Act (Act XXI of 1860)
  3. The NCERT was established with the agenda to design and support a common system of education which is national in character and also enables and encourages the diverse culture across the country
  4. It is separate from the National Council for Teacher Education
  5. National Curriculum Framework: The council came up with a new National Curriculum Framework in 2005, drafted by a National Steering Committee. This exercise was based on 5 guiding principles:
  • connecting knowledge to life outside school
  • a shift from the rote method of learning
  • enriching the curriculum for the overall development of children so that it goes beyond textbooks
  • making examinations flexible and integrating them into classroom life and
  • nurturing an identity informed by caring concerns
Jan, 20, 2018

[op-ed snap] Transparent Marking


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the NSSO, NAS, etc.

Mains level: The newscard talks about the new education policy and how it will help in providing a robust education assessment data, important for implementing education policies of the government. It also discusses some other efforts done by the government in the same direction.


The Kasturirangan Committe

  1. The committee will release the New Education Policy
  2. The policy will outline the principles, policies and, specific programmes and pilots that will guide education delivery in the country
  3. This year will also usher in a new era of evidence-based education policy discussions and debates, based on systematic annual assessments

 National Achievement Survey (NAS): Will provide systemic data on learning levels

  1. A much-improved National Achievement Survey (NAS) was conducted in November of 2017 and the results will be out in early 2018
  2. However, from now on, instead of being a sporadic assessment, it will be a regular annual assessment
  3. From this year, NAS will collect data at the district-level and not at the state level
  4. The limitation is that NAS assesses only government school students
  5. This will complement the NGO Pratham’s ASER, a household-based survey that includes rural private and government school students

Formulation under the RTE

  1. The recently amended RTE Rules require each state to formulate grade-level learning outcomes and ensure that they are achieved
  2. States have adopted some variation of the NCERT-suggested learning standards and several states have already started their own assessments

Transparency level increased: Aadhaar

  1. The Aadhaar linkage with students and teachers are giving us more accurate data on student enrolment as well as school staff
  2. Kerala and Haryana have found several lakh “ghost” students and recently the MHRD found about 80,000 “ghost” teachers

Other efforts done by the government

  1. The government is also working on improving the quality and depth of education budget data
  2. In 2018, we will have far more accurate and more nuanced understanding of the various resources devoted to education by all levels of governments

The input and outcome data must be available in the public domain 

  1. An open data platform for education will help open ideological blindfolds and bring convergence on some of the most critical debates in our education policy
  2. Most of the input data(like DISE, NSSO) are fully in the public domain and many independent researchers have been able to analyse them
  3. In contrast, almost all the outcome data (NAS, ASER and learning assessments by states) are not fully in public domain
  4. Only “processed data,” comprising final results on the chosen parameters are made public
Jan, 20, 2018

Private unaided schools deserve a better bargain

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached stories

Mains level: Complement this newscard with India’s learning deficit is worsening: ASER study


Annual Survey of Education Report (Aser) 2017: “Beyond Basics”

  1. The survey finds that while 86% of adolescents are enrolled in schools, they are under-equipped to contribute to the economy in any meaningful way
  2. Twenty-five per cent of the students cannot read a basic text in their own language fluently
  3. Forty per cent of 18-year-olds cannot read a simple sentence in English
  4. And they lack basic arithmetic skills; only 43% of them could perform a simple division

Enrolment at the elementary level

  1. India has achieved universal enrolment at the elementary level
  2. This is a great achievement, but getting students to school is only the beginning of human capital formation
  3. The drop in the enrolment rate in secondary education (78.5%), shows that something is wrong in our quality of instruction

Comparison of the performance of private unaided schools and government schools

  1. Private unaided schools have much better learning outcomes per unit of expenditure
  2. Contrary to popular opinion, most private unaided schools are inexpensive
  3. 80% of them charge a fee that is lower than the government’s per-pupil expenditure (PPE)
  4. In terms of learning outcomes, both private and government schools performed poorly, but private schools perform better
  5. Thus, the data shows that private unaided schools are delivering the same, if not better, despite resource constraints

Increase in enrolment rate: Private School

  1. Despite qualified teachers, mid-day meals and free admissions, 13 million students left government schools between 2011 and 2016
  2. While private school enrolment increased by 17 million in that duration
  3. Clearly, people are choosing private schools for their better service

What should be done?

  1. The government should support children education by giving school vouchers to all underprivileged students
  2. The students can choose to spend the voucher in their government school, or give it to a private school
  3. This will increase the purchasing power of all parents and allow them to send their child to school for more years, or send them to a better school

Drop out rate is higher in girls

  1. The Aser report points to another important problem: more girls than boys drop out of school between ages 14-18
  2. What can be done: Policies such as free bicycles to girls in Bihar have been successful in increasing enrolment by improving mobility
  3. Building gender-specific toilets in schools is another measure that helps in improving girls’ enrolment
Jan, 18, 2018

[op-ed snap] Left behind: on the right to free, compulsory education


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Annual Status of Education Report 2017, NGO Pratham, RTE act, digital divide

Mains level: State of education in India and measures needed to improve outcomes


Findings of the Annual Status of Education Report 2017

  1. The state of rural elementary education is far from encouraging
  2. Only 5% of the respondents in the survey, which was aided by the NGO Pratham, reported doing any kind of vocational course
  3. Only 43% of the youth could solve an arithmetic problem involving division of a three-digit number by a single digit
  4. Read full news here: India’s learning deficit is worsening: ASER study

What does this point to?

  1. The insights available from successive studies point to progress being made in raw enrolment of children in school, but miserable failures in achieving learning outcomes
  2. Enrolment figures often do not mean high attendance
  3. A significant section of secondary level students find it difficult to read standard texts meant for junior classes or locate their own State on the map
  4. The ASER data point to a massive digital divide, with 61% of respondents stating they had never used the Internet, and 56% a computer, while mobile telephony was accessible to 73%

What needs to be done?

  1. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act should cover the entire spectrum of 18 years, and not confine itself to those aged 6 to 14
  2. Guaranteed inclusion will empower those in the 14-18 age group who are not enrolled anywhere, and help them acquire finishing education
  3. This is vital to their participation in the workforce

Way forward

  1. All expenditure on good education is bound to have a multiplier effect on productivity
  2. Objectives of the RTE Act need to be translated into a comprehensive guarantee, expanding its scope to cover all levels of education
Jan, 17, 2018

India’s learning deficit is worsening: ASER study


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Annual Status of Education Report, Program for International Student Assessment, OECD

Mains level: Status of Indian education system and measures required to make it better


India’s learning problem gets worse

  1. The legacy of learning deficit visible so far in elementary school children is now being reflected among young adults too
  2. This was revealed in the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) study

Problems that arise due to this deficit

  1. Around 10% of Indian population is in this age group, their productivity has a direct bearing on India’s competitiveness as an economy
  2. They cannot be easily absorbed into the workforce—adding to the growing number of unemployed youth

New inclusions in survey

  1. This year ASER surveyed students in the age group of 14-18 years, unlike the last 12 years when it focused on students in elementary schools
  2. The survey has a smaller sample size this year
  3. This time ASER teams went beyond basics and surveyed students on activity in schools, ability to solve problems, exposure, awareness and aspirations
  4. This was done in order to gauge the ability of adolescents aged 14-18 years to lead productive lives as adults

Urgent attention required

  1. The ASER findings serve as a warning ahead of India’s participation in the rigorous Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) to be conducted by OECD in 2021
  2. In 2009, the last time it participated, India was ranked second last among 74 countries and regions that participated
Jan, 16, 2018

Operation Digital Board in the offing

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), Operation Digital Board, Operation Blackboard, CSIR

Mains level: Reforms in education sector


Improving digital education

  1. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) on Monday passed a resolution to take steps towards Operation Digital Board on the lines of Operation Blackboard of 1987
  2. Operation Blackboard was started with the purpose of providing minimum basic facilities to all primary schools

Operation Digital Board

  1. The idea of Operation Digital Board is aimed at providing better digital education in all schools
  2. This will offer new opportunities and new ways of teaching and learning to schools
  3. Operation Digital Board would be launched with the involvement of the Central and State governments, CSIR and community support


Central Advisory Board of Education

  1. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) is the highest advisory body to advise the Central and State Governments in the field of education
  2. The Central Advisory Board of Education, the oldest and the most important advisory body of the Government of India in education was first established in 1920 and dissolved in 1923 as a measure of the economy
  3. It was revived in 1935 and has been in existence ever since
  4. The idea that there should be a central Advisory Board of Education was first put forward by the Calcutta University Commission (1917-19)
  5. Almost simultaneously the Government of India Act, 1919 decided to make education mainly a provincial and a transferred subject and to limit the `control’ of the Central Government over it to the minimum
  6. The function of CABE would be :

    (a) to review the progress of education from time to time;

    (b) to appraise the extent and manner in which the education policy has been implemented by the Central and State Governments, and other concerned agencies, and to give appropriate advice in the matter;

    (c) to advice regarding coordination between the Central and State Governments/UT Administrations, State

  7. Composition: Union Minister of Human Resource Development is the chairman and Minister of State for Human Resource Development is vice-chairman of board
Jan, 15, 2018

[op-ed snap] The ABC of the RTE

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fundamental rights, Article 21-A, 86th Amendment, RTE Act, Pupil-Teacher Ratio, ‘no detention’ policy

Mains level: Bottlenecks in implementation of RTE Act


Right to Education Act

  1. Free and compulsory education of children in the 6 to 14 age group in India became a fundamental right in 2002
  2. Article 21-A was inserted in the 86th Amendment to the Constitution
  3. This right was to be governed by law, as the state may determine, and the enforcing legislation for this came eight years later, as the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2010, or the RTE Act

A futuristic law

  1. The practices were drawn from over a hundred countries having various and similar pieces of legislation or regulations already in place
  2. Since its enactment, the RTE Act has been lauded and disparaged
  3. The RTE Act is a game-changer in that it establishes that the onus to ensure free and compulsory education lies on the state

Provisions, use of which can bring about big transformation

1. Focus on retention

  • The Act envisaged that the state, i.e. State governments and panchayats, would aggressively ensure that each child is brought into the schooling system and also “retained” for eight years
  • Tracking dropouts and preparing and mainstreaming them into age-appropriate classes has been subsumed into existing scheme activities
  • The problem now is more about dropouts than children who were never enrolled
  • Strategies to ensure retention need to change from the earlier approach of enrolling the un-enrolled

2. Pupil-teacher ratio

  1. No meaningful teaching-learning is possible unless trained teachers are physically present at school
  2. The RTE Act lays down Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) for both primary and upper primary schools
  3. At primary level, the PTR should be 30:1 and at the upper primary level it should be 35:1
  4. According to the Education Department’s data, under the Unified District Information System for Education (U-DISE) database 2015-16, 33% of the schools in the country did not have the requisite number of teachers, as prescribed in the RTE norms
  5. All other forward-looking provisions of the Act such as continuous assessment, a child learning at her own pace, and ‘no detention’ policy are contingent on a school with an adequate number of teachers

3. Decentralisation

  • Another important provision is that the academic calendar will be decided by the local authority, which, for most States and Union Territories, is the panchayat
  • This provision recognises the vast cultural and regional diversities within the country such as local festivals, sowing and harvesting seasons, and even natural calamities as a result of which schools do not function academically
  • Not all festivals and State holidays declared by the State headquarters may be locally relevant
  • If panchayats, perhaps at the district level, decide the working days and holidays, this would exponentially increase attendance and teaching-learning
  • It would also strengthen local panchayats, being closest to the field, to take ownership of their schools
  • They would be responsible for ensuring the functioning of the prescribed instruction days

Way forward

  1. A law is as good or as bad as its implementation
  2. Open-minded adoption of these provisions, keeping the child in mind, can go a long way in radically transforming our school education sector
Nov, 17, 2017

[op-ed snap] Upgrading the public education system


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Comments of the report on Private Schools and solutions given to improve education system



  1. The article talks about World Development Report, 2018 on education system in private and public schools

Lack of trust in government schools 

  1. Education systems in many countries are not performing up to expectation
  2. And many families have been turning to private schools since they feel that the latter deliver better education, especially when public schooling itself is not fully free
  3. India too fails to provide free secondary public education

World Development Report, 2018 comment on public and private schools

  1. The World Bank’s recent flagship World Development Report, 2018 addressed some immediate challenges of quality education
  2. The report highlights that research across 40 countries finds no difference in the learning outcomes of children with similar family backgrounds in both public and private schools
  3. Private schools appear better since they enrol children from relatively advantaged backgrounds who are able to pay, not because they deliver better quality
  4. The World Bank report thus challenges a popular perception in India and finds no consistent evidence that private schools deliver better learning outcomes than public schools

Lack of untrained teachers in private schools

  1. Indeed, of the 1.27 million untrained teachers teaching in India, 925,000 are in private schools, pointing to the massive historic neglect of quality

Other particulars of the World Bank’s Report

  1. The report warned that some private schools’ quest for profit “can lead them to advocate policy choices that are not in the interests of students”
  2. In some instances, private schools may indeed deliver comparable learning outcomes with lower input costs, but this is achieved largely through lower teacher salaries
  3. The report reiterated that while this may make education cheaper, it does not make it better
  4. And has the additional disadvantage of reducing the supply of qualified teachers over time

How can we improve the quality of education?

  1. The quality of education can only be improved if
    (1) steps are taken to ensure children come to school prepared to learn,
    (2) teachers have the skills and motivation to teach effectively,
    (3) inputs reach classrooms and management
    (4) and governance systems are strengthened in schools that serve the poorest

Risks associated with private schools

  1. There are also clear risks as private schools skim off higher-income students that are easiest and most profitable to teach, leaving the most disadvantaged within the public system
  2. The reliance on private schools risks segregating the education system on family income and deepening existing social cleavages;
  3. It also undermines the political constituency for effective public schooling in the long run
  4. This has particularly dangerous outcomes in India where caste, gender and class inequalities dominate

Regulatory framework for private schools in India

  1. India has taken some steps in the direction of developing regulatory frameworks for private schools, with several states enacting fee-regulation legislation and the courts intervening to challenge private sector failures
  2. Recently, the Supreme Court intervened to direct states to enforce guidelines on safety in schools, it had to enforce fee regulation

The way forward

  1. The government is set to unveil the first New Education Policy in 25 years in December 2017
  2. It needs to address the key concerns and should focus on equity in quality—ensuring universal access to free, quality, equitable and safe public education for all of India’s young citizens
  3. This alone would help achieve India’s aspirations of global leadership by tapping into the demographic dividend that India still enjoys
  4. This must be backed by adequate resources. India is committed to the global and domestic benchmark of allotting 6% of gross domestic product to education, but has never crossed the 4% threshold
  5. Failing to invest in the best education for the poor will only widen the social inequalities that exist in India today
  6. The road to reform is fraught with challenges but the cost of inaction will be much higher
Sep, 13, 2017

Varsities can now seek ‘eminence’ status

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the UGC

Mains level: Important step taken by the UGC and Government to increase the level of Higher Education in the country.


Announcement from the University Grants Commission

  1. The UGC has announced the beginning of a 90-day application process for universities(both public and private) to seek the status of institutions of eminence
  2. This status will provide them freedom from the regular regulatory mechanisms
  3. Twenty institutions(10 public and 10 private) will be given this status with the aim to give them freedom to become world-class institutions

Strategy and Aim of the Plan

  1. The 10 state-run institutions will have an additional benefit provision of Rs. 10,000 crore over a period of 10 years, over and above the regular grants
  2. The aim of the scheme is to help institutions break into the top 500 global rankings in 10 years, and then break into the top 100 over time

Eligibility for applying for the scheme

  1. Institutions in the top 50 of (1) the National Institute Ranking Framework rankings or (2) those who have secured ranking among top 500 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS University Rankings or (3) Shanghai Ranking Academic Ranking of World Universities are eligible to apply
Aug, 19, 2017

Top 20 per cent higher education campuses to have greater autonomy: Prakash Javadekar

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the UGC

Mains level: World Ranking of Indian Top Institutions is very high. It is a good step to counter this issue.


Exemption from UGC’s Review Mechanism

  1. According to the HRD Ministry, the top 20 per cent of higher education institutions in the country deserved more autonomy
  2. And the government would work towards exempting them from UGC’s review mechanism

How will it be done?
All higher education institutions will be divided into three categories

  1. The top 20 per cent enjoying greater academic freedom
  2. The next 40 per cent with relatively more regulations
  3. The remaining 40 per cent that will remain under the UGC’s regulatory control
  4. The top 20 per cent will be chosen on the basis of the NAAC grading system scores


  1. The plan to set up 20 world-class institutions, 10 government-run and 10 private
  2. The 20 will be known as “institutions of eminence”
Nov, 03, 2016

International Forum on adopting ICT Perspective to Education and Learning

The International Forum on adopting ICT Perspective to Education and Learning is being held in Delhi from 31th October to 4th November 2016.

Organizers: International Bureau of Education (IBE), UNESCO in partnership with Google and the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development & NCERT

The forum targets countries which are implementing the UNESCO developed General Education Quality Analysis Framework (GEQAF). Best practice cases from countries will be presented.

About International Bureau of Education (IBE), UNESCO

Its mandate is to strengthen the capacities of member states to design, develop, and implement curricula that ensure the equity, quality, development-relevance, and resource-efficiency of education and learning systems.
The mandate positions it to support member states’ efforts to implement Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4): Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Sep, 10, 2016

Degrees in digital format- II

  1. Advantages: Expected to curb the problem of fake academic degrees
  2. Also, enable recruiters to ensure that the degrees of a candidate are genuine
  3. The practice of attested copies may be a thing of the past, as the database would be an authentic source of secure information about a person’s academic claims
  4. This would also help the degree-holders themselves, as the data would be secure in the depository
  5. At present, loss of documents and damage to these make their re-issue a cumbersome bureaucratic process
  6. In some universities, the issue of degrees takes a lot of time and some students do not collect their degrees for years as they shift from the place
  7. NAD would make these degrees easily accessible
Sep, 10, 2016

Degrees in digital format

  1. News: The government has set the ball rolling for the creation of National Academic Depository (NAD)
  2. NAD: An online database where all academic certificates will be available in digital format by the end of 2017
  3. Here, the institutions can upload all the degrees for authentication
  4. Purpose: To make available information on any award to any person other than the student, only with the explicit consent of the student
  5. It is a step towards the Digitial India vision
Aug, 24, 2016

IITs to increase student intake by nearly 40% to 1 lakh

  1. Also, a scheme will be launched to allow meritorious graduating B.Tech students of IITs to enrol for research and be paid a monthly fellowship of nearly Rs.60,000
  2. It would foster research and will help in reducing brain drain from these premier schools
  3. Context: These decisions were approved by the IIT council, the apex decision-making body of the IITs headed by the HRD minister
Aug, 18, 2016

Centre agrees to most of IIMs’ demands on autonomy

  1. News: The Union human resources development (HRD) ministry has agreed to most of the demands on autonomy made by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in the proposed IIM Bill
  2. Context: IIMs had been on a confrontation course with the HRD ministry for over a year over the IIM bill provisions
  3. The HRD ministry will have negligible or no say in matters such as key recruitments except director, composition of the board of governors, the number of government nominees on the board and the powers of a coordination forum
  4. Fee determination: Now it completely rests with the IIMs and the ministry will have no say
  5. Earlier, the bill had proposed to give the HRD ministry the final say on such matters
Aug, 11, 2016

Indian research skewed towards engineering, sciences

  1. News: India’s output of scientific publications may be increasing but their quality is skewed, according to Current Science journal
  2. Skew: Towards physical sciences and engineering with very little for biological sciences and medicine, and virtually none in social sciences, arts and humanities when excellence at the highest level is considered
  3. India annually publishes about 1,00,000 research papers but its top research institutions appear to be focussed on engineering and physical sciences
  4. Indian institutions did not make the quality cut or were too few in the arts and humanities, business, management and accounting, neuroscience, nursing, psychology and social sciences
Jul, 13, 2016

Centre plans unified science syllabi

  1. News: The Centre plans on bringing about a convergence in the core syllabi of science subjects and question paper designs across State and central boards
  2. Aim: To correct the perceived lack of parity in the syllabi of Physics, Chemistry and Maths across boards
  3. Same marks for theory and practicals in science subjects is also proposed
    Board examination marks now get weight in the IIT-JEE, though this will go from the next year
  4. Many feel that the lack of parity may deny a level-playing field to students from across the country in any admission that counts Class XII marks
Jun, 20, 2016

TSR Subramanian Committee- quota for poor students in minority schools

  1. Rec: The larger national obligations to meet the rights of economically weaker sections (reservation) should extend to all institutions including minority [religious and linguistic] institutions
  2. It is now important to reconcile the rights of the economically weaker sections with the rights of the minorities under Article 30 (1)
  3. This is particularly when minority institutions appear to clutch at any prop to ensure that their obligations, met by other aided or unaided schools, are circumvented
  4. Minority institutions: It is necessary to ensure that minority institutions are established only for genuine reasons envisaged by the Constitution
  5. Also that they do not use their constitutional privilege to manoeuvre out of national obligations established in overall public interest
Jun, 20, 2016

Issues with UGC

  1. The UGC’s mandate includes overseeing disbursal of grants to colleges and fellowships to students, and recognising and monitoring institutions
  2. Grants: Widespread irregularities in grant of approval of institutions and courses
  3. Quality: Concerns about the quality of education provided by a large number of colleges/ universities
  4. Responsibility: To monitor standards of education in higher education institutions and the UGC has not succeeded in ensuring this
  5. Credibility: Seriously dented by approvals given to a large number of sub-standard colleges and deemed universities
  6. HR: UGC does not have the adequate number of personnel, of requisite quality, to be an effective regulatory force in the higher education sector
  7. This was also outlined in the recent Hari Gautam committee report
Jun, 20, 2016

TSR Subramanian Committee- UGC

  1. Context: T.S.R. Subramanian committee for a new national education policy submitted its report to Ministry of Human Resource Development
  2. Rec: The law that set up the higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) be allowed to lapse as the new overarching higher education management law is enacted
  3. Why? UGC has been unable to effectively implement its regulations aimed at ensuring the quality of higher education in the country over the years
  4. Alternative: The UGC could be revamped, made considerably leaner and thinner
  5. It could be the nodal point for administration of the proposed National Higher
  6. Education Fellowship Programme, without any other promotional or regulatory function
  7. Specialised functions should be undertaken by specialised bodies
May, 28, 2016

Panel submits report on new education policy

  1. Context: Report on new educational policy submitted to the Human Resource Development Ministry
  2. The committee is headed by the former Cabinet secretary T.S.R. Subramanian
  3. Committee made the report by examining the large body of outcome documents, recommendations and suggestions received from the various consultations
  4. It had also undertaken consultation with the educational institutions
Mar, 21, 2016

Study calls for better collaboration between academia and industry

  1. News: Fourth edition of annual analysis of the impact of industry on technical institutes, conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry(CII)
  2. Grade system: Participating institutes were graded as platinum (over 35%), gold (10-35%) and silver (less than 10%)
  3. Context: Around 21 per cent of institutions in the southern region were rated as platinum, while 61 per cent were given the gold grade, topping all regions
  4. Relevance: Established engineering institutions (over 10 yrs old) and emerging institutions had performed well in governance and placements
  5. Survey concludes: 2-way communication between industry and institutions would benefit both.
  6. Academia should know what the industry needs, the industry should invest in long-term relationship with the academia
Mar, 09, 2016

Committee on Yoga Education in Universities

  1. Why? To identify the courses and programs in Yogic Arts and Science and the levels at which they can be offered
  2. To spell out the scope of programs offered at Certificate, Diploma, Degree, Post Graduate Degree and research levels
  3. To prescribe the syllabus: for conducting National Eligibility Test (NET) in Yogic Arts and Science
  4. Determine eligibility qualifications: for students for joining Yoga education programs at different levels
  5. To suggest the names: of national level Yoga centers whose expertise can be networked with universities where Departments of Yogic Arts and Science will be established
Mar, 09, 2016

World Bank to help skill development

  1. Context: India is in the process of borrowing over $1.5 billion from the World Bank
  2. Why? To revamp government-run vocational education schools ITIs and address quality concerns by implementing ISO certification, audits and ratings
  3. It will also ensure global best practices at schools
Feb, 26, 2016

Modernization of Madarsas’ Education

  1. Context: Scheme for Providing Quality Education to Madarsas (SPQEM) is being implemented all over the country through the State/UT Governments.
  2. Objective: SPQEM provides financial assistance to encourage traditional institutions like Madarsas and Maktabs
  3. To introduce modern education through subjects as Science, Mathematics, Social Studies, Hindi and English in their curriculum
  4. How? Through support for a maximum of 3 teachers, books, Teaching Learning Materials and Computer Labs
  5. Way ahead: Providing the students education comparable with national standards, for which affiliation with the National Institute of Open schooling (NIOS) is integral
Feb, 12, 2016

Kerala jobless rate 3 times the national average

  1. Context: At 7.4 per cent, Kerala has the highest rate of unemployment among the major States in the country
  2. It puts Kerala’s unemployment rate at three times the national level (2.3 per cent)
  3. Other States: only tiny Nagaland and Tripura have a higher unemployment rate
  4. Scope: Rate is higher in rural areas as compared to urban areas
  5. What about Women? Feminisation of joblessness is evident with females accounting for a much higher rate of joblessness as compared to males
  6. The situation is worse in the case of Kerala women, who log an unemployment rate of 47.4 per cent, as compared to 9.7 per cent of men
Feb, 09, 2016

Structured teacher recruitment plan needed

India is faced with a shortage of 1.2 million school teachers

  1. Centre asked states to put in place a structured recruitment plan to reduce backlog and attract quality graduates to the profession
  2. It will be key to improving the quality of schooling in the country
  3. The shortage of teachers becomes all the more acute with absenteeism — at around 35%
  4. India has at least 1.4 million schools catering to over 270 million children.
  5. Education in India falls under the Concurrent List, which means both the Union and state governments can legislate on the subject.
Jan, 25, 2016

‘SEEMA DARSHAN’ – An initiative by the Ministry of HRD

To provide an opportunity for the children to experience the border environment and to foster patriotism and nationalism among the students .

  1. In which school children are visiting the border areas and present before our soldiers and troops an array of performances showcasing the tradition and culture of India.
  2. This kind of programme will not only inspire children but also boost the morale of our soldiers on this Republic Day.
  3. The Ministry of Human Resource Development in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Home affairs is organizing programme.
  4. The main objective of the programme is to provide the students with a first-hand experience of the prevailing security environment in the border areas.
Jan, 22, 2016

SSA to develop ‘model’ schools

  1. A total of 3,843 elementary schools in AP will be developed as model schools by upgrading the facilities in the institutions.
  2. The initiatives to be taken up in the model schools include additional classrooms, toilets, drinking water, computers, and maintaining healthy teacher- student ratio.
  3. The objective of the SSA is to provide free education in the 6-14 age group.
  4. One of the focus areas of the SSA was ensuring education of girls and bringing down the dropout rate.
  5. Girls education is being taken care by the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, which are residential schools.
Jan, 18, 2016

Redefining education

Make it creative, encourage risk-taking and expand the idea of success.

  1. We put starting salaries and entrance exams on a pedestal and force a singular definition of success down our collective throats.
  2. It skews our incentives and priorities in unhealthy ways.
  3. Education should be about a holistic exposure to all facets of life .
  4. It should be a force for peace, a means to overcoming prejudice?
  5. We need to build an education system that values creativity, makes a deliberate effort to spark thoughtfulness and independent thinking, teaches students how to learn, guides the development of a strong moral compass.
  6. Creativity in education has to do with a constructivist approach to education, where learning is an active rather than the passive receiving of information.
  7. A society that values multiple intelligences, encourages exploration, accepts failure, prizes environmental conscientiousness, and allows people to define success on their terms.
Jan, 14, 2016

Kerala first State to attain total primary education

This showed that civil society and local governance structure could deliver remarkable results at the grassroots level.

  1. Vice President Ansari declared Kerala as the first State in the country to achieve total primary education.
  2. Speaking at the function, he said was as historic for Kerala as April 18, 1991, when it was declared a fully literate State.
  3. The day also marked the culmination of the Athulyam programme aimed at ensuring total primary education, equivalent to Standard IV of formal education.
  4. He said the remarkable socio-economic indicators of the State were testimony to the transformative nature of mass education.
  5. The programmes undertaken at the 4,000 continuing education centres started by the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA).
Jan, 01, 2016

18 States agree to revoke ‘no detention policy’ in RTE

  1. A committee headed by Rajasthan Education Minister Vasudev Devnani has sent recommendations to the Central government.
  2. Stating that the ‘no detention policy’ under the Right to Education (RTE) Act should be revoked.
  3. The committee had received the consent of 18 States for required amendments in the ‘no detention policy’ under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
  4. Under the no detention policy, no student can be failed or expelled till Class VIII.
  5. However, States, including Rajasthan, have already done away with the policy.
  • Subscribe

    Do not miss important study material

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
0 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
0 Comment authors
Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of