Arun C. Mehta
Recently, National Informatics Centre (NIC) and Planning Commission, Government of India have taken up a project to develop a computer-based Management Information System on education for the District Administration so that information related to `Education Sector’ can be periodically collected from the lower level administrative machinery of the district administration. In the beginning 26 sectors have been taken into account for the development of MIS at the district level and education is one of these sectors. The programme is named DISNIC- EDUCATION. It was proposed to install super PC-AT computer system at each of the 466 districts to provide services and renders support to district administration. Each district will have communication link with the state informatics centre which is generally located at the state capital where ND-550 or equivalent mini computers are installed for flow of information between the state headquarter and the districts. The state informatics centre will support all district systems in addition to support for the state government departments.
The information collected through NICNET, both quantitative and qualitative, will be available for district, taluk, block, panchayat and village in addition to the information at the state and national levels. Information on various items, which are presently not being collected and are necessary for micro level educational planning would also be gathered and made available to planners and administrators. If this happens, the proposed coverage would facilitate the requirements of planners not only working at the national and regional levels but also at the sub-regional level.
The main problem with the existing system is the collection of information itself from the institutions. In the NICNET system, as mentioned, it is envisaged to collect information from the local education department or it would be responsibility of district level functionaries not only to supply the statistics but also to utilize the computer facilities provided at the office of the district collector under the technical guidance of NIC. Since the introduction of the scheme, it could fully implement only in the state of Karanataka. Unless the user at the district level is involved and convinced, the scheme would take a long to implement in rest of the states and union territories.
One possible reason of this failure is lack of staff and coordination between state statistical, monitoring and planning units. In most of the states/union territories, separate staff has not been provided for these units. It is only in Jammu and Kashmir, that separate staff at block level is existed. In states like, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharastra and Tamil Nadu etc. though planning is done at the district level, no separate staff is provided for. In almost all the state, the statistical system is in existence but the staff, which has been provided for this purpose, is not adequate and trained.
From the year 1985-86 onwards, department of education decided to computerize the statistical system. It was implemented in Uttar Pradesh on an experimental basis. In collaboration with NIEPA, the department of education undertaken a project on `Computerised Planning for Education’ (COPE) with the main objective of reducing time lag in the educational statistics which would also support district level functionaries to take decisions on the basis of information collected through the system (COPE, 1991). The project is already implemented in all the districts of Madhya Pradesh and in one district each of Rajasthan, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh on an experimental basis. Mainly, the focus would be on primary education. Under the scheme, it is proposed to install computers in the office of District Education Officer or the computers of D.IETs would be utilised for this purpose for which softwares and technical support would be provided by the COPE team.
It has been observed that the scheme has not yet been taken off well, as only four states have shown their keenness during the last five years mainly because of lack of motivation on state/district functionaries and also due to its limited coverage. Unless, the user i.e. district level functionaries are convinced, this may not click off, hence in decision taking process, user should be involved to play a significant role. Recently (1992), in the conference of Education Secretaries and Ministers, the matter was also put up as an agenda item for consideration, in that case DISNIC (EDUCATION) will be replaced either by COPE or it would be modified.
In the year 1992, NIEPA in collaboration with UNESCO, Paris undertaken a project on use of sample survey techniques in educational statistics. The main objectives of this project was to review the existing system of the educational statistics and to find out the gaps and to bridge the gaps so identified by employing sample survey techniques. Age-grade matrix, repeaters, dropouts, average daily attendance etc. were some of the variables found to be non-available.
In the first phase, four states, namely, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh were selected for survey as the first stage sampling units. From the selected states, districts and blocks were selected as second and third stages of the sampling units. Institutions were finally selected for gathering information on missing items for which a structured questionnaire for institution was developed on the basis of which population estimates of different variables were generated. It is expected that in the second phase remaining states and union territories will be covered. Independent to this, another project on monitoring of elementary education based on sample survey techniques has been currently undertaken by NIEPA in collaboration with the department of education.
At the state level, sporadic attempts have been made to develop educational management information system. Some of these states are Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharastra, Tripura etc. In Punjab computer softwares had been developed but could not be used due to lack of motivation on part of higher authorities. In Kolhapur Zilla Parishad of Maharastra, Management Information System for Primary Teachers (MIS-PT) is already in use.
The computerised Personnel Management Information System is also being used in the Directorate of Education Himachal Pradesh, Shimla (NIEPA, 1991). In most of these states, either the NIC software is modified keeping in view the requirement at the local level with the help of NIC staff or expertise from the private sector has been utilized for which a huge amount of money is spent. The states should share their experiences and also exchange the softwares. In order to provide a platform, NIEPA organised a number of training programmes on Computer Applications for Educational Management Information System.