By Pramila Menon, NIEPA, New Delhi, 1999
The present study was an attempt to look at a cross section of Village Education Committees in two districts of Haryana. The purpose was to understand their status and formation and also perceive the manner in which their roles were performed. The Village Education Committees were constituted in Haryana in four districts in the first phase. These four districts were Hissar, Jine, Kaithal and Sirsa. This study covered two DPEP districts, Hissar and Jind. To study the guidelines prepared and issued by the State Government for the formation of VEC’s, to study the process of formation of Village Education Committees in the selected localities, to examine the activities undertaken by by the VEC in the previous year and to analyse if there are any variations in the roles perceived and roles performed were the main objectives of the study.
Village Education Committees were visualised as part of the decentralised management structures envisaged under DPEP. Their role is to establish a link between the school and the community. In addition, they are also expected to take up the task of management at ensuring community participation. Under the District Primary Education Programme, the State Government of Haryana decided to constitute Village Education Committees, with a view to facilitating and ensuring participation and involvement of local community in the educational process at village level. Village Education Committees have been constituted in the two districts visited and by and large as per the norms specified by the State Government guidelines. The norms of membership in general have been followed, and in particular the norms of membership of women have been fulfilled. A significant percentage of members of VEC have formal educational levels up to the secondary stage and above. The role of Village Education Committees have been predominantly in areas related to accessibility and participation of children, particularly girls. Enrolment in the first three classes have increased considerably, though the teacher-pupil ratio stands as 1:70. Enrolment of girls has been perceptibly high in areas where girls school have opened. There is a visible change in the attitudes towards girls education in the last three years. The participation of lady teachers has further enhanced the functioning of the school.
In Haryana, the composition of the VEC ensures that 50 per cent of the representation is for women. However, in terms of the actual role in the functioning of VEC, the participation of women is still limited. Women still observed Purdah and many of them do not even look up. The woman pradhan who is elderly is more vocal. This reticence and non-participation can effect the functioning of VEC as many of the issues will remain unaddressed. The emergence of sub-districts structures like the Block Resource Centre while envisaged as a professional support mechanism, has created some problems in the existing educational administration framework. There is apparently some conflict about the roles. The visibility of the DPEP programme being what it has given rise to a feeling of resentment among the block level officials.