Copy Right: DPEP Calling, Volume VI, No. 11, December 2000, Government of India, MHRD, New Delhi


DPEP lays emphasis on preparation of need based plans in a decentralised manner, through participatory ap­proach with district as a ‘unit’ of planning. Based on the needs of dis­tricts, the state component plans are also prepared in a similar manner. The main objective of DPEP is universalisation of primary education, which requires preparation of a holis­tic plan that lays equal emphasis on universal access, equity, capacity build­ing of stakeholders and improvement in achievement level of learners. A systematic understanding about link­age and interdependence in all these aspects is required to formulate strat­egies for effective interventions. Im­provement in the quality of education is essential to solve the problems of dropout, irregular attendance and low achievement of children. It has been realised that these objectives can only be achieved through preparation of need based and realistic plans, the planning process for which has to be participatory, involving not only plan­ners but also teachers, parents, panchayat members and other con­cerned persons. The nature of plan that emerges there upon largely de­pends on the process of planning adopted by the states as well as the districts.

Though guidelines for DPEP have been prepared at the national level, the states have a great deal of flexibil­ity and autonomy to decide about the planning process. There exists suffi­cient scope for delineating suitable strategies and activities in the plans. The thrust areas of plans can vary from one district to another within a state because of local and context specific needs. That is why, within a state, one may find that the districts with high concentration of tribal population can prepare their Annual Work Plan with special emphasis on tribal education, while the other dis­tricts can lay emphasis on the educa­tion of migratory children, if migration appears to be their problem.

In DPEP ‘Perspective Plans’ are pre­pared for the entire project period of five to seven years, which involves delineating project goals and major strategies to achieve these goals. The sustainability as well as phasing out of the project activities are important considerations while preparing these plans. The Annual Work Plans are prepared keeping the perspective plans in view, but the districts AWP&Bs (Annual Work Plan and Budget) may deviate from initial perspective plans, if the need arises. The necessary data and information must support the strategies designed. This has necessitated creation of authentic data­base in each state. Most of the states have strengthened their EMIS and conducted house to house survey and micro planning for creation of authen­tic database, though as per informa­tion given in AWP&Bs of the current year, use of this data for planning is still limited in some states. Due to the growing emphasis on micro planning, it has been realised that, the ‘unit’ for planning may be changed gradually from district to sub district level and further to ‘habitation’ and ‘school levels’. Visualising this need, several training programmes on micro plan­ning have been conducted at the national level, emphasising prepara­tion of “Village Education Plans” and “School Development Plans”.

Since DPEP is a time bound project with limited financial resources, prioritisation of needs becomes an important aspect in planning. Prioritisation of needs helps districts to decide the thrust areas and to formulate strategies and activities ac­cordingly. This, in turn, helps in pre­paring a realistic budget. The states have also been suggested to establish coordination and convergence with other concerned departments and de­velopmental programmes for proper utilisation of funds in a cost-effective way.

It has been envisaged that capacity building of project functionaries is essential to prepare a realistic plan, because they have no previous experi­ence of preparing such educational plans. Therefore, financial provision for establishing SIEMAT with trained and qualified faculty at the state level has been made in the DPEP The SIEMAT can help the states not only in preparation of plans but also to improve planning process by conduct­ing trainings and workshops on differ­ent aspects of planning for capacity building of project functionaries. Pro­visions have also been made to im­prove infrastructure facilities of DIETs, which help the districts in preparation of plans. It has been visualized that involvement of these institutions would make planning process more participatory and sustainable. In addition, provisions exist for evolving a decentralized and flexible project management structure for smooth functioning of the programme.

Considering the importance of decentralised process in preparation of a need based and context specific plan, this study has been undertaken to review the planning process, prevalent in different states. An attempt has been made to discuss various issues, relevant for educational planning and management. It should help to understand the problems and constraints the states are facing in developing a decentralised planning process. An effort has been made to assess the extent to which the present planning process has helped the states in improving the quality of AWP&B and its effective implementation. Emphasis has been given to explain the measures that the states have planned to undertake for strengthening planning process in the coming years. It is expected that this study will help in identifying further interventions needed for improving planning process at the national as well as state level.


‘The main objectives of this study are :

  1. To make an assessment of the process of educational planning prevalent in the DPEP states
  2. To elicit evidence of local specific planning in the AWP&B docu­ments of the district and
  3. To assess whether the states/dis­tricts have proposed any activity for capacity building of its project functionaries for planning or not.


Out of fifteen, seven DPEP states have been selected for the purpose of this study. To study the planning process, the project functionaries at the state, district and sub district levels have been consulted. This has provided an important insight into the perception of different functionaries about the planning process. The extent to which all these functionaries get involved in the planning process has been assessed by undertaking elaborate discussions with them. A better reflection about the educational situation and its im­plications on planning has been ex­plored through school visits. To understand the impact of planning process on the quality of plan, the AWP&Bs of one or two districts from each selected state have been re­viewed. A checklist has also been prepared for interaction with the vari­ous field functionaries.

These state visits included:

  • Interaction with the functionaries at the SPO & DPO
  • Visits to BRC and CRC/ CLRC (in case of West Bengal)
  • Visits to schools
    a) for interaction with teachers and VEC members and
    b) to observe the classroom situ­ation and physical environ­ment of the schools.
  • The Annual Work Plans of the districts have been reviewed with a particular focus on database, linkages of strategies and activi­ties with data, the linkage be­tween activities and budget and also to assess how far these bud­gets are realistic.

Assessment of planning process has been done on the basis of observations made at the time of state visits and reviewing the section on ‘planning process’ of AWP&Bs. Analysis of plan­ning process has been made mainly in the following areas:

  • Whether planning teams exist at different levels or not;
  • Whether forums have been cre­ated and used to discuss the spe­cific problems of districts, blocks or habitations or not;
  • Whether forums have been created and used to discuss the specific problems of districts, blocks or habitations or no;
  • Extent to which the data have been utilised in planning the strat­egies;
  • The thrust areas of plans and how these thrust areas have been iden­tified;
  • The plan of the state to strengthen and sustain the decentralised plan­ning process in the coming years.

The study presents a detailed analysis of planning process of the seven states namely: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra (Phase I), West Bengal, Gujarat Himachal Pradesh (Phase II) and Uttar Pradesh (Phase III). For the purpose of this study, Bangalore (Ru­ral) and Mysore districts of Karnataka, Cuddalore and Thiruvannamalai of Tamil Nadu, Jalna and Parbhani of Maharashtra, Banaskantha of Gujarat, South 24 Parganas of West Bengal, Sirmour and Nahan of Himachal Pradesh and Ghaziabad of Uttar Pradesh have been visited. These states have been selected after appraisal of AWP&Bs of these districts for the year of 2000-01. It has been noticed at the time of appraisal of AWP&Bs, that majority of the Phase-1 states have been able to develop more decentralised planning process in com­parison to the Phase II states and Phase III states like Uttar Pradesh. However, the states have been selected on random basis from all the four regions of India.

Based on the findings of state specific studies, a comparative analysis of vari­ous aspects related to planning process has been given in the study.

Impact of planning process:

An attempt has been made to compare the planning process of these states. AWP&Bs of some selected districts have been referred to ascertain impact of planning process on the quality of plan.

It is evident from the studies that the planning process varies from state to state. In some states, formation of an effective planning team has been con­sidered a pre-requisite for initiation of a decentralised planning process. For instance, in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, separate teams have been formed for AWP&B preparation. On the other hand, different commit­tees have been formed in West Bengal involving functionaries of panchayat who are responsible for planning. Cooperation of district administration in carrying out DPEP activities has also been observed in all these states. To address block specificity, several consultations and meetings are re­ported to have taken place at the sub district levels, before plan preparation in all the Phase-1 states. Some of these states have developed separate formats to get feedback from grassroot level functionaries i.e. VEC members, teach­ers and CRC coordinators.

This shows that almost all the states have made concerted efforts to evolve a decentralized and participatory plan­ning process. This has been possible due to the flexibility and autonomy the states have in deciding their plan­ning process. A comparative analysis of various aspects related to planning process has been attempted in the subsequent paragraphs.

Planning Teams:

Formation of planning teams at vari­ous levels is considered important to ensure a decentralised planning pro­cess. The study reveals that planning teams exist at different levels in Phase -I states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

In Maharashtra, separate teams at the state, district and sub-district levels have been formed. The team at the SPO consists of nine to twelve mem­bers, while DPO teams have included seven to ten persons. Apart from project functionaries, some officials from Education Department are also included in state and district level teams. The block level teams consist of BEO, EDO, Resource Teachers, BRC Coordinators and some selected CRC coordinators. The team at the cluster level includes CRC coordinator, Head­masters of centre schools and VEC chairpersons. This suggests that in Maharashtra grassroots level function­aries have also been included in the planning teams at different levels.

Similarly, the planning teams have been formed at all levels in Tamil Nadu. At the SPO, a planning wing consisting of Finance Officer and three consultants is responsible for plan preparation, under the guidance of Joint Director and Financial Advisor. Planning Teams consisting fourteen members have been formed at the district level. The District Project Coordinator (DPC) who also shares the responsibilities of Department of Elementary Education, is the coordi­nator of this team. The responsibility of plan preparation mainly lies with Additional District Project Coordina­tor (ADPCs). Since they are also responsible for monitoring overall functioning of DPEP in their districts, they are fully aware of the progress made in each functional area. The coordinator of each functional area also participate in the planning exer­cise. Thee grassroots level functionaries like, two BRC supervisors, two Head­masters, one teacher, one teacher edu­cator are also a part of this team. Other concerned persons like, Finan­cial Advisor, AEO, DIET faculty mem­bers etc. are also included. VEC members and NGO representatives are not part of the district planning team though some VEC members are involved in preparatory exercises of school plans and block plans. The block level teams consist of two AEOs, two BRC supervisors and three teacher educators. They are responsible for identifying relevant issues in their respective blocks.

In Karnataka, planning teams exist at the district and block levels. Apart from DPEP functionaries, elected rep­resentatives of the districts, taluks and village level administration, promi­nent educationists, VEC members, NGO representatives, member of teacher association are also involved in planning exercise. The block level teams have been formed recently and members of these teams have been oriented to DPEP activities and the planning process. The cluster level planning team is yet to be formed.

From the above discussion, it is evi­dent that all the three Phase-1 states have developed planning teams at the district and sub-district levels. Re­sponsibilities of identification of needs of districts have been shared with grassroots functionaries. Now, these states are making efforts to train its project functionaries in various tech­niques of planning. It has been realised that due to lack of proper orientation and training, they are unable to par­ticipate effectively. However, interac­tion with grassroots level functionaries reveals that their role in planning process remains confined to the identification of specific educational needs. It is difficult for them to formulate appropriate strategies and activities to address the problems. Budget prepara­tion appears to be a difficult task for them. More workshops and meetings need to be organized, for these func­tionaries to ensure their effective par­ticipation in planning exercise.

Formation of teams at various levels is also evident to some extent in the case of DPEP II states. The report on planning process in West Bengal sug­gests that the state has evolved a participatory process of planning by creating or restructuring various com­mittees at the district and sub-dis­tricts levels. These committees are expected to play a crucial role in planning, but presently they are func­tioning largely as advisory committees. Some of these committees consist of the members from some other depart­ments. It is difficult for them to get actively involved in planning exercise, as they are preoccupied with the work in their respective departments. More­over, lack of proper orientation pre­vents these members from actively participating in the process of AWP&B preparation. However, for­mation of these committees has made it possible for DPEP to establish coor­dination with other concerned depart­ments. This has helped the state in working out a convergence plan for some of the DPEP activities. The state is planning to form a core planning team at the district level and to orient the members of the team in various aspects of planning techniques. It is mention worthy, that a separate com­mittee (DPTC) has been formed to look after various pedagogic inputs provided by DPEP

Establishment of Circle Level Re­source Centres has facilitated the pro­cess to create a proper school support as well as monitoring system Creation of a team at the circle level including Resource Teachers (RTs), Circle Project Coordinator (CPC) and one/two sup­port staffs has helped in carrying out programme activities at the grassroot level. However, involvement of this team in planning is yet to be materialised. A new initiative of the state in this direction, is organisation of noon and afternoon meeting ses­sions which has resulted in frequent interaction of CPCs with VEC mem­bers and teachers. This year, a group of Key Resource Persons will be formed. Five persons from each district will be included in this group. This group will be responsible for planning and their training will be conducted before prepa­ration of next year’s AWP&B.

While significant progress in terms of formation of various committees is evident in the case of West Bengal, the SPO in Himachal Pradesh is striving for creation of teams as well as for integration of DPEP with mainstream Education Department, particularly at the district level. A commendable achievement of the district level func­tionaries mainly of the DPC, Sirmour has been the establishment of coordi­nation with senior officials of District Administration as well as with DIET faculty members. Their cooperation and involvement have facilitated the personnel at DPO to take several important policy decisions, particu­larly in the area of training and civil work construction. This year the state has decided to develop cluster level groups to conduct different training programmes at the cluster level. This group will consist of experienced teach­ers with special skills and expertise in their respective subjects. Subsequently, this resource group will be involved in planning exercises also.

In Gujarat, separate planning teams do not exist at any level including SPO. All the unit heads (incharge of functional areas) and senior officials sit together and finalize the plan with very little consultation with district functionaries. No special effort has been made to involve the functionar­ies from other concerned departments and institutions like DIET in planning exercises.

From the above discussion, it is clear that West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh have initiated a decentralised planning process, while Gujarat is lag­ging behind. Gujarat needs to form planning teams at the state as well as at the district level. Efforts are also needed to make planning process decentralised and participatory by en­suring involvement of teachers, head­masters and other stakeholders from grassroot level like, VECs, MTAs and Panchayat members.

Though DPEP was launched in Uttar Pradesh much later, the state has some experience from Basic Education Project. The DPEP programme was expanded in Ghaziabad district only in 1999. The study reveals that due to previous experience of BEP and DPEP Phase-11, co-ordination with other departments of the government has been achieved in preparation of dis­trict perspective plan from the very beginning. Existence of a committee for the purpose of planning is evident in Ghaziabad district. This committee has been formed at the time of prepa­ration of the ‘perspective plan’. Offi­cials from various departments are included in this committee.

Preceding discussion reveals that the states are making concerted efforts to establish teams at various levels. Making these teams functional is a major task before all of them. Earlier experience of states like West Bengal had been that the core planning teams Were formed at the time of preparation of prospective plans, but it could not function for long. One of the reasons for this ineffectiveness was lack of capacity building of the members of the teams. Hence, it has been realised that the capacity building of the planning team members which include project functionaries as well as officials from other concerned depart­ments is essential.

Capacity Building

It is imperative at this stage to review the extent to which various states have taken initiatives for capacity building of the project functionaries. In Maharashtra, commendable effort has been made for imparting trainings to all the project functionaries work­ing at various levels. Five members of the state planning team along with a few members of the district planning teams received trainings at the na­tional level institutes like NIEPA and NSDART. Several workshops and meetings have been conducted for capacity building of the district level functionaries. Interaction with the dis­trict and sub-district level functionar­ies of Parbhani and Jalna districts reveals that all the BRC and CRC coordinators have received trainings in AWP&B preparation and in micro planning exercise. In both the dis­tricts, all the headmasters of centre primary schools and one member from each VEC have been oriented in DPEP planning. They have attended block level and cluster level work­shops also. It suggests that there are conscious efforts to make all the project functionaries trained on various planning techniques to ensure their active participation for sustenance of decentralized and par­ticipatory planning process.

In Tamil Nadu, several steps have been undertaken to enhance the skills of planning teams for AWP&B preparation. It has been observed that in the initial years, involvement of District Planning Teams was confined to shar­ing of necessary information with the state planning team before AWP&B preparation. Based on first AWP&B manual, the district teams started pre­paring AWP&B independently from 1998 onwards. In 1999 and also in 2000, the District Planning Teams of Phase-1 districts have prepared entire plan and budget with little support from the State Planning Team. It has been possible, because firstly, they consulted Manual of AWP&B prepa­ration, which provided them proper guidance for preparation of need based plan and secondly, several workshops were conducted to discuss various is­sues before AWP&B preparation and draft plans were prepared by the dis­trict teams based on the recommenda­tion made in workshops. It has been reported that before preparation of AWP&B of 2000-01, three workshops had been conducted for AEOs, BRC supervisors and CRC coordinators. The state level officials attended these workshops. In the fourth meeting, drafts of AWP&Bs, were finalized. In addition to these workshops, several trainings have been conducted for Headmasters, CRC coordinators and BRC supervisors in which preparation of cluster plan and methodology of data analysis have also been included as the topics of discussion. From these instances it is clear that Tamil Nadu also has worked on capacity building of project functionaries in a systematic way like Maharashtra.

In Karnataka, the state level function­aries have been trained at the NSDART for AWP&B preparation. A significant thrust has been given for capacity building of grassroot level functionaries. The VEC members are trained by BRC and CRC coordinators while Headmasters are trained by DIETs and BRC coordinators. Training on micro-planning is being conducted through trained resource persons at the district as well as block level. Frequent visits of state and district level functionaries have resulted in better networking with the grassroot level functionaries. This has a signifi­cant implication for planning and management.

It has been observed that, similar attempts for capacity building of project functionaries have been made in Phase II states also. This year in West Bengal, main emphasis has been given to capacity building of district and sub district level functionaries. Workshops to be conducted by the district level micro planning team, VECs, CPCs and Resource Teachers (RTs) are planned to clarify their roles in plan­ning. A group of Key Resource Persons (KRPs) is going to be formed in which five persons from each district will be included. A state level workshop will be conducted for these resource per­sons and a guidebook for planning will be given to them. In ‘noon’ and ‘after­noon’ meeting sessions, VEC members and teachers are expected to be in­formed about the techniques of need identification, formulation of need based strategies and even budgeting of these activities. This will help them to prepare a comprehensive Village Edu­cation Plan. It is a matter of concern, how the state is going to conduct so many trainings in sequenced manner during short period of time between November and February before the finalisation of AWP&B in March-April. A systematic time schedule for all these training needs to be prepared. Mechanism of incorporation of micro level plans like Village Education Plans and school based plans (prepared by VEC and teachers), circle plans (prepared by CPCs and RTs), and the district plans, which will be prepared by key resource persons in AWP&Bs needs to be decided before initiation of process of preparing AWP&d3s for the forthcoming year.

In Himachal Pradesh, it has been reported that regular meetings have been conducted to get the feedback at district level from BRC and CRC and at the block level from VECs and teachers. However, it seems that less thrust is being given on planning in such meetings because no workshop has been conducted so far to train the project functionaries at the district and sub district level. In initial years, some of the project functionaries of the SPO received training at SIEMAT, Allahabad and NSDART, Mussoorie. After receiving these trainings, the SPO functionaries have prepared the state component plan. To make dis­trict level functionaries better aware about planning process, a state level workshop has been conducted recently on preparation of AWP&B and insti­tutional planning. It is likely to en­hance capacity of project functionaries to prepare plan for each functional area. Workshops on the same issues have been proposed to be conducted at the district level also. Simultaneously, training on micro planning has been proposed for grassroot functionaries. Resource persons have already re­ceived training and now, they are likely to train the grassroot function­aries. The state has also planned to conduct training for CHT and BEO as their participation is being perceived as essential in making planning exer­cise participatory and decentralised. The state has also initiated capacity building of CRC coordinators to plan for development of each school. The process has already started in Banikher block of Chamba disrtrict. Moreover, the proposal is to expand this programme to other districts also. Another development that has taken place in the state is the establishment of SIEMAT which is helping the state in conducting various training programmes.

From the above discussion it is evi­dent that both West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh have planned and initiated activities for capacity build­ing of the project functionaries, work­ing at various levels. An emphasis on training of grassroot level functionar­ies for their better participation in planning process has also been re­ported from both the states. It is expected that after completion of the trainings and workshops, these states may be able to ensure the participa­tion of all project functionaries in plan preparation.

Contrary to the situation in West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat has not made any serious attempt for the capacity building of project func­tionaries, particularly of those working at the district and sub district level. Though some of the project function­aries received training in NSDART and NIEPA, but these were not fol­lowed up by any other state level training to promote planning skills of other functionaries, including those working at the district and sub-dis­trict levels. For more than last one year, no training programme on plan­ning has been conducted. The state has no plan to conduct any such training and workshop this year also.

Moreover, all the functional area incharge at the DPO (Banaskantha) appear to be newly appointed and untrained. They have been found to be completely unaware of the strategies and activities undertaken so far, as well as, about the rationale for under taking these activities. Most of the experienced and trained functionaries have been transferred to the new DPEP districts. Capacity building of these newly appointed functionaries is urgently required. They need to be trained not only in their respective functional areas, but also in intricacies of planning. The functionaries at the block and cluster level perceive plan­ning as a seasonal exercise to identify tentative needs, regarding physical in­frastructures of the schools in particu­lar. Their skill in micro-planning has not been developed. Although, micro-planning in 90 villages (30 from each DPEP district), has been con­ducted the state did not expand this activity to other villages. All of this indicates that the capacity building of project functionaries has never been the thrust area of planning in Gujarat.

In Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh, most of the planning exercises have taken place at the state and district levels. The project has just begun here. Previous experiences of BEP and DPEP phase II have helped in making the planning process decentralised to the extent possible considering that it is still in its beginning stage. Though the district level functionaries have been trained at SIEMAT Allahabad and DIET, the sub district level functionaries are yet to be trained. However, visioning workshops for teachers have already been conducted. There is a need to organise training for district and sub district level function­aries to sustain the participatory plan­ning process, initiated at the time of preparation of perspective plan. Fo­rums also need to be created for discussing various issues related to planning and implementation of the DPEP activities.

It is evident that all DPEP I states have stressed on capacity building of various project functionaries and other concerned persons to ensure their effective participation in planning. Similar activities have been started for enhancing the capacity of project func­tionaries in districts where DPEP has been expanded. Plan for capacity build­ing in Maharashtra seems to be rigor­ous and systematic. Major emphasis has been given on capacity building of grassroot functionaries. Similar inter­ventions for capacity building have also been attempted by Phase II states like West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh. Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh (Phase III), has shown a good begin­ning in participatory planning. In con­trary to the efforts made by all these above mentioned states, such serious attempt lacking in Gujarat for capacity building of the project functionaries for planning. The state needs to pay immediate attention on this issue.

Various steps for capacity building might have had an impact on the planning process of these states. A critical review of the planning process may help developing a proper under­standing about the trend the states have followed to develop an effective process of AWP&B preparation in recent years.

Process of Plan Preparation

In case of Maharashtra, it has been observed that a series of workshops and meetings were conducted before preparation of AWP&B to identify the needs and strategies. Meetings at the cluster level and Gatt Sammelans (meeting of VEC, MTA, PTA and school teachers) have been organised to identify the needs at the grassroot level. Based on house to house survey data and the out come of different meetings and workshops, prioritization of needs and activities is done at the district level. A significant improvement in the planning process has been observed in the initiative of the states to prepare block and cluster level plans . These plans are utilised for preparation of district plans. How­ever, it has been observed that in the absence of proper coordination be­tween block and the district level officials, prioritisation of needs be­comes difficult. As a result of this, some instances of mismatch between needs of block and district may be found in the AWP&B document. In this context, it can be suggested that the state needs to focus on block specificity while setting the priorities during plan preparation.

Tamil Nadu also has followed a sys­tematic process of planning. Based on the information collected from schools and experience gained through train­ing and workshops, plans are prepared on the lines of instructions given in AWP&B preparation manual. Last year, several workshops have been con­ducted before preparation of AWP&B. In the first meeting, the state planning team interacted with district and sub-district level functionaries, including AEOs, one BRC supervisor and one CRC coordinator. In the second meet­ing, appraisal team members and Joint Director from SPO interacted with the District Planning Team. The third meeting was oriented to discuss bud­geting and costing. Two members from planning teams of each district at­tended this meeting. In the fourth meeting, the drafts of AWP&Bs were finalised. It is obvious that all the district and sub district functionaries are still not involved in the planning exercises. Instead, a few selected func­tionaries are participating in planning exercise. The state needs to look into this issue as involvement of all the project functionaries for participatory planning.

Most importantly, micro level plan­ning has been undertaken seriously in Tamil Nadu. Though house to house survey has not been conducted in recent years, plans for some of the selected clusters have been prepared. It has been reported that these plans are being utilised while preparing AWP&B. This year further stress has been given on capacity building of cluster coordinators to prepare cluster plans. Plans will be prepared for all the clusters of two selected blocks from each district. Based on these cluster plans, block plans will be prepared which will be utilised for AWP&B preparation. The state has conducted cohort study and test for assessing achievement levels of 5th standard students of government school. Schools will be ranked on the basis of the results of these two activities. It has been proposed that thirty schools with low level of performance will be iden­tified in each block. More intense plans will be prepared for these thirty low performing schools, Block Educa­tion Officers will be responsible for preparation and execution of these plans.

In Karnataka, data generated through house to house surveys and EMIS are used for the identification of needs. These needs are verified in CRC, VLC and PTA meetings. It has been re­ported that activities such as Kalajatha, Chinnar Mela and Nali Kali are planned on the basis of information. In addition, minutes of monthly re­view meetings at district and state levels are also used at the time of formulation of AWP&B. Recently, at­tention has been paid on forming block planning teams and there capac­ity building. In the coming years, separate plans will be prepared for each block, which will be incorporated into the AWP&Bs of the districts. It has been reported that before prepara­tion of plans, the project functionaries of the DPO visit the villages and schools to identify specific needs. Dis­trict specific issues are discussed in a separate meeting which is attended by Divisional Commissioner and mem­bers of Zilla Panchayat and Taluka Panchayat.

Similar emphasis on participatory planning process has been reported from West Bengal also. Before formula­tion of AWP&B, state and district level workshops have been conducted to identify and prioritise needs and strategies. Finalisation of plan and budget has been done at the state level. Two functionaries (incharge of functional areas) from the DPO finalised the plans in consultation with Deputy SPD at the SPO. Involve­ment of sub district level functionaries in planning process till last year was insignificant. This year, state has planned to follow more systematic and participatory process for preparation of AWP&B. It is worth mentioning here, that this year the state has proposed conducting a workshop for Circle Project Coordinators (CPCs) and Resource Teachers, who have im­portant role in planning. A group of Key Resource Persons will be formed for planning and a state level work­shop will be organised for them. Meet­ings will be conducted for VEC members and teachers to make them familiar with planning techniques. Feedback given by VEC members, teachers, resource teachers and CPCs will be taken into consideration while preparing AWP&Bs. This year, CPCs will be preparing plans for their circles while the KRPs will prepare plans for their respective districts. On the basis of these plans, AWP&Bs of the dis­tricts will be finalized. Apart from these, separate formats have been pre­pared to collect data for school as well as for preparation of village education plans. It is obvious that while West Bengal has systematically planned to ensure participatory planning process, the state now will also have to develop a mechanism to incorporate all these micro level plans in the AWP&Bs of the districts. The process may be started with preparation of village and school plans. Based on these, circle plans need to be prepared by CPC and RTs, which can be used by KRPs to prepare the district plans.

In Himachal Pradesh, initiatives for improving process of plan preparation have been undertaken this year. A state level workshop for AWP&B preparation and micro planning has been conducted recently. Till last year, the state had faced a lot of difficulties in identifying specific needs due to non availability of authentic data. This year, the DISE format has been modified and a separate format has been included to collect information on out of school children. In addition, two more formats have been prepared to assess the needs of schools and villages as well. Training for Resource Persons on micro planning has been conducted at the district level. This year, there is a plan to organise capac­ity building of sub district level project functionaries in planning. A work­shop at the district level. The SPO has a plan to involve SIEMAT and DIET functionaries at every stage of plan­ning. It appears that the state has evolved a plan of action (POA) for improving process of planning in the coming year.

It has been mentioned earlier that in Gujarat the process of planning has not been decentralised to the desired extent. No attempt has been made towards formation of planning teams as well as capacity building of project functionaries. So far, the AWP&Bs have been prepared at the SPO with little consultation with DPO person­nel. Although monthly review meet­ings are regularly conducted at DPO, BRC and CRC minutes of those meet­ings are not utilised for planning. The plans are mainly prepared on the basis of DISE reports. Since, DISE provides the information on schools, it may not be possible to identify habitation spe­cific needs if only DISE data are utilised for planning. No other inter­vention, except opening of alternative schools, has been made on the basis of house to house survey data, conducted in three DPEP districts. Interaction with the project functionaries at the district and state level reveals, that so far, plan for improvement in the pro­cess of AWP&B preparation has not been prepared and not a single activity related to AWP&Bs preparation has been budgeted in AWP&B of 2000-01.

Though the DPEP programme has been implemented in Ghaziabad district re­cently, the district functionaries have shown keen interest for improvement in planning process. Workshops have been proposed for district and sub-district level functionaries before for­mulation of AWP&B. Major thrust has been given on convergence with other departments. Most importantly, this district has used house to house survey data for formulation of major strategies in the perspective plan. As the program has just begun, the EMIS is yet to be functional. It is expected that in com­ing years, a significant improvement in planning process will be possible when all the grassroot level functionaries i.e. CRC, BRC and VEC will be appointed. Capacity building of these functionar­ies will be taken up seriously for smooth functioning of programme as well as Strengthening of decentralized planning process in inc following years. The state level functionaries need to help the district in carrying out capacity building activities.

Utilisation of Data:

It is clear that need based plans cannot be prepared without sufficient and authentic database. Hence, collection and utilisation of data have been considered the most important task in almost all the seven states. Efforts made by the states in this respect are described in the subsequent para­graphs.

In Maharashtra, house to house survey has been conducted in 1999 in all the DPEP districts. This has been comput­erised and consolidated at the district level. EMIS data provide valuable in­formation on physical infrastructure of schools, Pupil Teacher Ratio and Net Enrolment Ratio etc. It has been reported that this data has been utilised for preparation of AWP&B of 2000-01. On the basis of micro planning data, important strategies have been formulated to cover children of sex workers, leprosy patients, scavengers and children working in slaughter houses. Some of the districts have proposed for conducting survey in urban pockets to identify the educa­tional needs of the deprived children.

In Tamil Nadu data from various sources are available for planning. Necessary information is collected through school plans and cluster plans, while EMIS data are used to calculate Gross Access Rate, Gross Enrolment Ratio, Dropout Rate, Repetition Rate etc. These key indicators help in identifying, the thrust areas of planning.

In Karnataka, besides EMIS and microplanning data, ‘Block Activity Registers’, kept in DPCs office are also used for planning. These registers provide update information about the activities carried out in the blocks. EMIS data, updated every six months, is the important data source for plan­ning. The minutes of monthly review meetings, conducted at the district and state levels are also utilised for planning purpose.

Increasing emphasis on preparation of need based plans has been reported in DPEP phase II states also. In West Bengal, consistent efforts have been made to collect important data through DISE formats. The state has also con­ducted house to house survey at large scale. The data is now being comput­erised. However, many discrepancies have been found while compilation of this data. Now the cross checking and correction of this data is continuing at the district level. It is expected that this data will be utilised for formula­tion of strategies and activities of AWP&Bs next year.

Although house to house survey has not been conducted at an extensive scale in Himachal Pradesh, improve­ment in EMIS has made available some essential data needed for plan­ning. It has been reported that the EMIS formats have been modified at the state level and another format to collect information on out of school children and unserved habitations has been added. In addition, separate for­mats for preparing village education plan and school plan have been pre­pared. It is expected that the collec­tion of all these data will be completed before preparation of AWP&B of the next year.

It may be pointed out that West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh both need to pay attention for developing suitable mechanisms for cross check­ing, compilation and consolidation of micro-planning data for its effective use in planning. Moreover, these states also need to see the extent to which it is possible to formulate habitation specific strategies on the basis of find­ings of the house-to-house survey. For instance, a list of habitations having maximum number of out of school and drop out children may be prepared for this purpose. It has been reported by Bangalore Rural district of Karnataka that this year all the BRC co­ordinators and BEOs have been in­structed to formulate habitation specific strategies for at least 15 such habitations where 100% enrolment has been achieved. Similar kind of attempts may be useful for other states also.

In Gujarat, it has been reported that no other source of data except DISE are used for planning purpose. House to house survey has been conducted a few years back, but the data collected has not been used so far. Visit to a village of Banaskantha district, where micro-planning has been conducted earlier, revealed that 93 out of total 214 children in 6-14 years age are still not going to school. VECs in many villages are yet to be formed and some of the posts of CRCs are also found to be vacant. In absence of these func­tionaries no one is found responsible to look into such matter.

Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh has made commendable efforts for preparation of need based plan. House to house survey was conducted, before preparation of perspective plan of the district. Information derived from the survey has been used for prioritising strategies for Perspective plan as well as AWP&B. The number of EGS, AS centres, Anganwaris have been to be opened decided on the basis of these data. Intervention in Maktabs and Madarsas is also decided on the basis of this survey. The EMIS is yet to become functional. The district may now attempt at identifying the specific needs, separate plan may be prepared for some blocks on pilot basis. These can be included in the next year’s AWP&B. The district may also start identifying habitation specific needs on priority basis using the recent house-to-house survey data and these may also be incorporated in the AWP&B of the coming year.


After the detailed discussions about the process of plan preparation, a few observations related to convergence need to be mentioned here as convergence is one of the most important aspects of planning and budgeting in DPEP It has been observed that all the state have taken initiatives for achieving convergence with other departments in carrying out various DPEP activities. In Maharashtra funds are available from JRY, LDF, DRDA, SWD, Zilla Parishad, PRI and Municipal corporation for Civil Works. Institutions like DIET and STB are involved for pedagogic improvement while ICDS and Health Departments are involved for ECCE and IED. In Karnataka, involvement of NGOs, officials from other departments have already been enlisted. The state may need to explore the possibility of convergence the Department of Rural Development. Tamil Nadu has also worked out convergence plan with various departments like Welfare Department, Health Department, Social Welfare Department, DRDA, TINIF etc. Funds available from DRDA are being utilised for providing drinking water facilities, construction of toilets and boundary walls.

In West Bengal, involvement of Pabchayati Raj Department is quiet significant. NGO activists and officials from health department are involved in IED programme. Funds from JRY, BMS, DAP BDP etc. are being utilised for civil work activities. Zilla Parishad decides about the allo­cation of funds from all these sources. It has been widely observed that coop­eration of District Administration has helped District Project Coordinators to carry out their work efficiently. In Himachal Pradesh, cooperation of DIET functionaries has proved par­ticularly useful in completion of vari­ous tasks related to pedagogic improvement. Convergence with the new scheme ‘Saraswati Bal Vidya Yojna’ can help DPEP in diverting its fund provided for construction of addi­tional class rooms, as the new scheme has a provision for construction of additional classroom in the entire state. Some efforts for convergence have also been observed in Gujarat, where community has come forward to pool the resources for making various provisions in schools, such as, drink­ing water, repair and renovation, level­ing of ground etc. The AWP&Bs of districts have also mentioned about convergence with JRY, DRDA for con­struction works and for providing drinking water facilities respectively. Convergence plan has been evident in Ghaziabad district right from the be­ginning. In addition to the officials from District Administration, func­tionaries from various other depart­ments like, Social Welfare, Labour, Health and Rural Development are involved in DPEP

In the foregoing section, the process of formulation of plans in all the seven states have been described at length. It is imperative at this stage to examine the extent to which the process of plan preparation has influenced the quality of AWP&Bs of these states. It is expected that with the more stress on decentralization and participatory process of planning, plans should be more realistic and need based.

Review of AWP&B:

The review of AWP&B of the two districts, Parbhani and Jalna, of Maharashtra indicates that there is a significant improvement in quality of plan as the process of planning in these districts has been decentralised to a large extent. The participation of various functionaries has been ensured by building their capacities. Several workshops, training and meetings have been conducted before preparation of plan for discussing the planning issues. EMIS and house to house survey data have been used and included in the write up section of AWP&B. A clear linkage in data, strategies and activi­ties are found in these plans. In both the districts, plans have been formu­lated according to the guidelines pro­vided in the AWP&B manual.

The linkage in information, strategies and activities is properly established in the AWP&Bs of Thiruvannamalai, Cuddalore and Villupuram districts. Various meetings and workshops have been conducted for need identifica­tion and formulation of strategies, before preparation of AWP&B of these districts. The plans have also incorpo­rated specific needs of blocks and of the deprived communities. These plans have also been prepared as per instruc­tions given in AWP&B manual, pro­viding clear understanding about progress, spill over and rationale be­hind formulation or dropping out of various strategies and activities.

Similar attempt to follow a consulta­tive process has been reported from the two districts – Bangalore Rural and Mysore in Karnataka. Formation of planning teams and their effective involvement in planning process facili tated the districts to prepare need based AWP&B of 2000-01. the issue that emerged from trainings, VEC mela, GP meetings, VEC meetings etc. were discussed in greater details this year. As a consequence of this, certain block specific activities have been included and budgeted in the plans. Use of data and findings of research studies have made these plans more context specific.

A significant improvement has been observed in quality of AWP&Bs of South 24 Parganas and Jalpaiguri dis­tricts. It has been possible because of initiatives taken by the state to iden­tify specific needs of the districts. AWP&Bs of both the district have explained planning process in detail and budgeted certain activities for capacity building of project function­aries in planning. Though the write up section of plan document has ex­plained all the strategies planned this year and the progress of activities carried out last year, the financial tables have included budget only for proposed activities. From next year onwards, plans need to be prepared as per instructions given in the AWP&B manual.

In Himachal Pradesh, the AWP&B of Sirmour Nahan and Lahaul & Spiti districts have elaborated each activity in the write up section but it has not been supplemented with necessary data information. Proper linkage in data, strategies and activities is not found in these plans. Moreover, the financial tables were not given according to functional areas. Similar problems are found in the AWP&Bs of Gujarat. These plans have not mentioned the process of planning as well as the thrust areas of plan. It is difficult to understand the amount of budget pro­posed for the activities of each func­tional area. Since, the state has started the capacity building activities for its project functionaries, it is expected that from next year onwards, a more realistic and need based AWP&B will be prepared.


From the foregoing case studies, it is established that planning process has an important role in improving qual­ity of plan. It is also clear that plan­ning process is languishing in states like Gujarat because serious thought has not been given for its improve­ment. Some crucial issues which have emerged from the study are :

  • Barring Gujarat, all other states have constituted planning teams at various levels. Their effective functioning is now a prime con­cern before the states. Some states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have made systematic efforts to build capacity of planning team members as well as project func­tionaries for their effective par­ticipation in planning. In West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Karantaka, though there have been some efforts for capacity building, more systematic effort is needed. Gujarat needs to give immediate attention to constitution of plan­ning teams as well as their capac­ity building. Training on micro-planning also needs to be undertaken on priority basis.
  • States which have started prepar­ing sub district plan such as block and cluster plans, need to develop mechanism for better utilisation of these plans to address the spe­cific problems of a block and a cluster. Simultaneously, house to house survey data need to be updated and utilised for identify­ing specific needs of habitations. For example, in Gujarat the prob­lem of access is still continuing in some villages and pockets, though the state has formulated a variety of commendable strategies for pro­viding schooling facilities to the deprived children. Absence of house to house survey data may be one of the reasons for not address­ing access issue adequately.
  • Planning for improvement in quality of schools needs to be emphasised in the coming years. Emphasis needs to be given on preparation and implementation of plan for each school involving teachers, VEC members, CRC and BRC coordinators. Many states have already prepared school plans. The states need to encour­age CRCs and teachers to imple­ment these plans.
  • It is necessary to evolve a proper monitoring and support system for better networking with grassroot level functionaries. Fre­quent visits to the schools by district and state level functionar­ies provide an ‘on site’ support for effective planning and implemen­tation at school level.
  • Forums need to be created to discuss various issues, including the state norms and policies, rel­evant for primary education. Hold­ing of regular review meetings may serve this purpose. The minutes of review meetings can provide es­sential inputs for formulation of strategies. Involvement of project functionaries working at various levels in planning is expected to ensure better implementation of the programme.
  • Finally, it can be said that prepa­ration of need based plans can be possible if decentralised and par­ticipatory planning process is en­sured.


Forty Years of Arun C Mehta at NIEPA: 1980 to 2019 (e-Book)

Forty years of Arun C Mehta at NIEPA: 1980 to 2019

Times of India, New Delhi, 21st September 2021

UDISE, Interview of Prof. Arun C Mehta in Times of India, New Delhi, 21st September 2021