Planning Process Under DPEP
WORKSHOP ON DISTRICT PLANNING UNDER DPEP
(22-23 December 1997)
- Planning Process under DPEP : National Level
- Planning Process under DPEP : Assam
- Planning Process under DPEP : Haryana
- Planning Process under DPEP : Karnataka
- Planning Process under DPEP : Kerala
- Planning Process under DPEP : Madhya Pradesh
- Planning Process under DPEP : Maharashtra
- Planning Process under DPEP : Tamil Nadu
Copy Right: NIEPA, New Delhi
PLANNING PROCESS UNDER DPEP: NATIONAL LEVEL
District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) is conceptualised and concretised on the basis of varied experience and expertise the country has gained in the process of planning and implementing national programmes , state level programmes and externally funded programmes in education in India. The DPEP made a serious effort to translate the idea of decentralization into an operational practice through various steps: (i) the programme identified district as the unit for initiating decentralized educational planning. Selection of the unit for planning, namely, a district is in line with the understanding that India had arrived at as per the recommendations of various Committees. (ii) the programme attempted to alter the pattern of resource decisions from state level to local levels; (iii) the programme attempted to strengthen the planning process to make it more consultative, participatory and transparent; (iv) it tried to provide professional resource support to academic activities through new organisational arrangements like the BRCs and CRCs; (v) it attempted to provide support to schools through providing contingency grants of Rs.2000/= to each school and Rs.500/= to every teacher annually; (vi) the planning process tried to create local level capacity both at the district and sub-district levels. These efforts, in the initial stages, were supported through the existing administrative arrangements and professional bodies. The decentralized planning efforts were mostly initiated through providing professional support to the state and district levels by national institutions.
The programme design and guidelines were initially formulated by the Government of India in February, 1993. A National Core Team was formed to guide and facilitate district level planning process and preparation of state level documents. The National Core Team consisted of 12 functional areas. These areas were; i) District Planning; ii) Teacher Training; iii) Curriculum Transaction; iv) Early Childhood Education; v) State Finances; vi) Gender Issues; vii) Tribal Education; viii) Text Book Production and Distribution; ix) School Effectiveness; x) Baseline Assessment Studies; x) Non-Formal Education; and xi) Management Information System.
Each of these functional areas was headed by a senior faculty from the National Institutions like NIEPA and NCERT and each of these functional areas constituted a group of specialists. There was a meeting of National Core Team Members in April, 1993 to orient the members of the National Core Team towards DPEP and its major concerns. After this orientation programme each of the groups of the functional areas developed an outline listing issues and concerns to be incorporated in the district plans. The district planning process made a serious effort to incorporate various issues related to class-room practices, school processes, gender issues, tribal issues, community participation etc.
The overall co-ordination of district planning activities and activities of the National Core Team was carried out by the Department of Education, MHRD. One member of the National Core Team was requested to co-ordinate district planning activities in each of the states.
From May, 1993 the National Core Team Members visited states and DPEP districts. These meetings were organised primarily to provide the necessary professional support to prepare district plans and to incorporate varying concerns identified by different functional areas. The effort was more to provide guidance than to incorporate any national level concern in a mechanical fashion in any district plan. These visits and meetings with the State and District level people were very helpful in broadening the basis of district planning and also in providing professional and technical support to prepare plans, draw schedules to prepare plans and also to identify activities which will ultimately lead to preparation of district plans.
The draft district plans which were prepared were sent to the members of the National Core Team. As mentioned earlier, activities of each state was coordinated by one of the National Core Team Members. Once the plans were received these plans were sent to the concerned heads of functional areas to closely examine whether the plan proposals cover aspects related to each functional area. The District Planning Group of the National Core Team had developed a check list to help examine and evaluate the district plants The comments from each of the functional area was consolidated and sent to the respective states. Based on these comments the State Government and district authorities were requested to revise the draft plans which were further scrutinised by National Core Team Members and Members of the preparatory mission which came to India in July, 1993. Members of the National Core Team also visited the states and districts as part of the preparatory mission.
Various state specific and district specific studies were initiated during this period to make district plans more realistic and local specific. In general studies were initiated in the areas of Learner Achievement, Teacher Motivation, Gender Issues, Tribal Education, Text Books and State Finances. Findings of these studies were incorporated into the district plans when the plans were revised and finalised. The Mission made a closer scrutiny of the draft district plans and made suggestions for further improvement. After the wrap-up meeting of the preparatory mission, there was a meeting of the DPEP Bureau and members of the National Core Team. During this meeting it was felt that preparation of district plans requires more professional support. For this purpose NIEPA organised a workshop in September, 1993. Participants from the DPEP Districts came with their draft plans. During this workshop comments given on these plans by National Core Team and Mission Members were discussed and directions for further revision of the plans were clearly specified. The participants went back to their respective districts and revised the plans which were submitted to the pre-appraisal mission in October-November , 1993.
During the pre-appraisal stage it was realised that while the medium term plan preparation reached a level of completion, the annual work plans were not clearly elaborated. The next effort was to finalise the medium term plans and to prepare annual work plan for the year 1994-95. To provide professional support at this stage, NIEPA organised another workshop in February, 1994 where participants from the districts and state level participated. Based on the deliberations in the workshop district plans were further revised and finalised and annual work plan proposals were developed. This revised document was submitted for appraisal.
Parallel to this professional activities associated with preparation of plan documents, sanctions and approvals of the programme were sought at various levels. For example the DPEP guidelines formulated in February were revised in April, 1993. The union cabinet approved the programme in December, 1993 and planning commission approved it as a centrally sponsored programme in January, 1994. Expenditure and Finance Committee of India approved it in May, 1994 and the programme were formally launched in November, 1994 with the release of Rs.352.9 million to the state implementation societies of the seven states covered under the programme in its first phase. It needs to be noted that management structure to implement the programme was also created in all the states during this period.
PLANNING PROCESS UNDER DPEP : ASSAM
Prior to DPEP, the responsibility of educational planning was entirely vested with the Director (Education) and all the plans were prepared at the State level. The planning process under DPEP necessitated a departure from this approach and it introduced various changes in the planning process in Assam.
The planning process under DPEP for preparation of the district plans got started in Assam in May-June 1993. As an initial step, the state level officers attended a meeting at NIEPA, New Delhi in March, 1993. In the beginning of May, 1993, the National core team members visited Assam and held meetings at the State level to orient educational functionaries to prepare district plans. Following this, core groups were formed and meetings were organised at the district and State levels. These meetings were attended by officers from elementary education department and faculties of DIET and BTC. The first draft of the district plan was submitted to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in July 1993. The National Core Team members commented on the draft plans. The IDA preparatory mission visited the state in July, 1993 and the DPEP plan formulation process was assessed.
The need for more participatory approach was emphasised in the discussions. Subsequently, District Core Groups organised meetings at the district, sub-division and sub-district levels with NGOs, teachers’ associations, village community representatives and functionaries of education and other related department. In all five meetings were organised at state level, twenty six meetings were organised at district and sub-district levels, and two hundred and forty two meetings were held at the block level. The recommendations made in these meetings were in-corporated in the second draft of the plan which was then submitted to Government of India (GOI) in the month of December 1993. The third draft of the work plan was submitted to GOI for approval in April 1994, this draft incorporated in it the proposals made by the pre-appraisal mission which visited the state in the month of February 1994. The final sanctions pertaining to AWP & B 94-95 were received by November 1994.
To facilitate plan preparation process, workshops were organised at NIEPA after every mission. The educational functionaries involved with DPEP planning process participated in these workshops in September, 1993 and February, 1994. As a follow-up to NIEPA workshops, core group meetings were organised at the state and district levels to streamline the activities associated with district planning process. The initial plans were prepared based on secondary sources of data. However, the results of the baseline studies conducted by NCERT, New Delhi was made available in April 1994 which were incorporated into the planning process. A study conducted by Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta was also used as a basis for formulating the perspective plan and AWP & B for 1994-95. Besides the above mentioned two studies a study on State Finances for education also provided inputs while drawing up the perspective plan and the annual work plan 1994-95.
The planning process in Assam aimed to include, first, an analysis of the present situation which includes a description of educational programmes already in operation, a quantitative analysis of educational process, an analysis of available physical and infrastructure facilities, an assessment of education at district level, emphasis on data base for planning, need based and continous planning process. Second, identification of targets that the plan is supposed to achieve. Third, the strategies required to achieve the targets. Fourth, planning to be made consultative and participatory. Fifth, the efforts to translate the intervention strategies into practice. Sixth, estimation of financial requirements, Seventh preparation of implementation schedule to carry out the various activities. Eight, to monitor and evaluate various activities following from the plans.
The state component plans were prepared after the draft district plan, were formulated. From 1995 onwards, annual plan preparation became a continous process in Assam. The plan preparation process for the year 1995-96 started in February, 1995. State and district level meetings were organised in which need for new intervention for realising the goals was emphasised and a list of new activities were identified. In order to make the planning process efficient and to streamline project planning and monitoring aspects of the programme, the procedures of preparing AWP&B were streamlined. Computerised systems were developed to take care of both the financial costing and time scheduling of different activities/sub activities to be executed under AWP & B. A software was procured for this purpose from ICSS, New Delhi. It was pointed out that due to delay in start of 1994-95 plan activities a lot of activities got carried over to 1995-96. The draft plan was submitted to Government of Assam (GOA) in April, 1995, the modified plan was submitted to GOA in May, 1995. The final approval was received in September, 1995.
The main constraints faced in 1995-96 plan implementation was that the VEC personnel could not be trained due to the lack of Resource Persons at Block and cluster level. Hence, the community at the village level was not consulted at the time of preparation of the AWP&B. However, in 1996-97 the participatory process in the preparation of the AWP&B was extended up to the village level. Meetings were organised at the BRC and CRC level, discussions were also held with teachers and village education committee members. The suggestions that were made in these meetings were sought to be incorporated at the district level plan formulation exercise. In 1996-97 the draft plans were prepared at the district level with discussions taking place with the state level and district level functionaries. The revised final version of the plan was submitted to Government of India in April 1996, while the final approval was received in August,1996. The reconstitution of VEC proved to be a major constraining factor in plan implementation in 1996-97.
Participatory Planning was emphasised while initiating planning for AWP & B in 1997-98. An effort was made to involve the local community at micro level planning and decision making. The VECs, CRCs and BRCs were involved in the process of planning and implementation of different educational activities in a participatory mode. The process of preparation of AWP&B 1997-98 started in October, 1996. Workshops, meetings and discussions were organised at the district, BRC, CRC and VEC levels in which needs assessment at VEC, CRC and BRC levels were undertaken. After discussing the various problems and issues with the educational functionaries, the first draft of the plan was prepared. The draft plan that was prepared was further discussed component-wise at the state level. For this purpose workshops and meetings were organised with DPOs and officials of the State Project Office. The teams that were involved in preparing the district level plans were further given orientation by a team from Ed.Cil. The first draft of AWP&B 1997-98 for all DPEP-I districts was thus sought to be prepared and finalised through a participatory process.
The initial plans were less participatory in nature. It was pointed out that the plans could not move beyond the block level because the DPOs did not identify with the plans as their own plans and this hampered the planning process to a great extent. Although VECs were formed, they were not properly consulted before preparing the plans. Consequently the plans did not reflect realities. For example, while preparing plans, seasonal variations were not taken into consideration. Assam has a severe monsoon period when all activities come to a virtual halt. Since the scheduling of activities in the earlier plans did not take into account these ground realities, it resulted in delay and non implementation of the plans. Another reason for slow implementation of the plans, is the repeated transfer of DPEP trained personnel during the planning process and later.
Learning from the experiences relating to planning from DPEP I, measures have been taken to make the planning process more efficient under DPEP II. A lot of significant changes have been proposed to be brought about in the planning process in DPEP II. A brief outline of the planning process proposed to be undertaken under DPEP II is as follows. While preparing the plans under DPEP II the steps that are proposed to be undertaken by the state office included : (i) constituting district planning teams and orienting them to the basics of DPEP; (ii) Training of Five(5) members from each DPEP district at LBSNAA, Mussoorie for Nine (9) days; (iii) constitution of Block level planning teams and their orientation; (iv) constitution of VEC; (v) providing funds for pre-project cost; (vi) developing guideline/orientation to hold meetings with the stake holders; (vii) identification of issues/problems through participatory process; and (viii) organising state level workshops for identification of strategies to address the identified issues relating to DPEP.
An elaborate planning process has been started under DPEP II which has resulted in identification of local specific problems in enrolment, retention and quality improvement, identification of potential causes for this problem. Identification of potential strategies for addressing these problems on a priority basis has also been sought to be addressed while preparing the plans under DPEP II. Hence all the output of participatory planning are being used to prepare district plans under DPEP II. It has also been mentioned that in DPEP II micro planning and mapping exercises on pilot basis are proposed to be undertaken from the beginning of project implementation.
The requirement for trained professionals is being met by training of professionals at LBSNAA, Mussoorie. The plan of action that has been proposed to be undertaken is DPEP II included :- (i) Constitution of District Core Teams comprising of DEEO, DI, BEEO, programme officers, BRC co-ordinators, social workers, representatives from NGOs, women groups etc.; (ii) Identification of master trainers; (iii) Development of manuals and other documents; (iv) Training of master trainers; (v) Orientation of Block education committee/Block level education committees; and (vi) Organising awareness generation programmes. The above mentioned measures were expected to supply a village profile and village action plan for target area villages, completion of school mapping exercise in pilot blocks, development of a pool of master trainers at the district and sub district level for subsequent extension and for awareness generation and mobilisation in the community.
PLANNING PROCESS UNDER DPEP : HARYANA
Of the seven districts with female literacy lower than the national average, four districts, namely, Hisar, Kaithal, Jind and Sirsa were selected in the first phase of the DPEP introduced in the state in March, 1993. At first there was a national workshop organised in March, 1993 where the state level officers participated. Subsequently, the national core team members visited the state to facilitate district plans and state component plans.
The process of preparing district plans was initiated by issuing a letter from the Director, Primary Education Haryana. A preparatory meeting was organised by the DPE Haryana at the SCERT, Gurgaon in which other officers, such as, educational administrators, subject specialists of SCERT and the concerned District Primary Education Officers and Block Education Officers took part. The broad areas on which information was required were identified and the DPEOs were requested to organise a meeting of BEOs for collection of the requisite information. It was also decided to contact the concerned teachers, Block Officers, members of Panchayat and VEC, villagers, community leaders etc. and share with them the aims and objectives of the DPEP. Maa Beti Mela, Wall writings, Prabhat Pheries, Enrolment Drives, Competition amongst girls etc. were organised in the district to mobilise community support. Also, posters, cartoons, songs/poems, nukkar nataks, kathhputali pradarshan were organised which were found to be very useful in mobilising the community, specially the women and the girls.
When the participatory process of the district planning was in progress, the national core team conducted a number of studies which includes Learner Achievement Study, State Finance study on Education, studies on Designing, Production and Distribution of Textbooks, Teacher Notivation and Gender. These studies were conducted in all the four districts from October 1993 to March 1994.
For preparing district plans and also to facilitate better coordination with the members of the SCERT who were involved in the formulation of district plans, two committees, namely, District Core Team and the State Core Team were constituted. A working group was also created at the district level which consisted of BEOs, Head Teachers/Teachers, Anganwari Workers/Village Nurse, Social Workers and some retired persons. Mainly, the working group was the sub-set of the district core team. In addition, teachers and head teachers were also involved in conducting meetings with the village elders to identify problems relating to drop-outs, out-of-school children and irregularity of students. The representatives of mahila mandals, yuva mandals, VEC/VCC, NGOs were also invited in the meetings convened at the district/block level to seek their suggestions regarding the identified issues and problems. The local community were also involved in locating the site for ECCE, NFE Centers, for donating land for BRC and for providing chopals to organise some school programme.
The first meeting of the District Core Team was held in July, 1993 under the chairmanship of the Additional Deputy Commissioner of district Hissar. It was decided in the meeting that a number of meetings would be organised at the block and village levels which will help to acquaint people with the DPEP. Similarly, meetings of working groups were also organised to discuss various components that were to be incorporated in the plan document.
The strategies for organising the participatory process emphasised mainly the involvement of the local agencies like VEC, Panchayat members, village elders, social workers, teachers, BEOs and NGOs in the areas where they were working. The members of the working group were involved in planning process with their own problems and issues relating to the areas of access, retention, achievement, drop-outs, out-of-school children, community participation, gender disparities etc. The praticipatory planning process took place during the period April 1993 to March 1994. In the meetings held at the block/district levels, local educational problems were identified and were discussed by the group members of different areas. After the discussions, intervention strategies were included in the district plan proposals. The working group at the district level also comprised of SCERT experts. Whenever the proposal was reviewed by the national experts/appraisal missions, the suggestions given were incorporated in the revised plan document.
The BEOs conducted house to house and village-to-village surveys and collected information. Once the data were collected from the field the same was analysed and used in the school mapping related exercises for purposes of opening of new schools/branch schools, construction of school building and additional classrooms, toilets, boundary walls and installation of hand pumps and their repairs etc. Similarly, the information was also used in creating NFE centers which was mainly based upon the number of drop-outs and out-of-school children. For dissemination of the information, a News Letter at the DIET level was started. Similarly, the plan document also included detailed strategies to prioritise activities to facilitate convergence of services at the local level.
On receipt of the information collected, the working group started preparing the draft district plans. The members of the working group were trained at NIEPA, NCERT and IIE, Pune. A meeting of the National Core Team, Working Group and State Officers was held in May, 1993 to discuss the hurriedly prepared draft plan proposals. The districts could initiate participatory planning process only to a limited extent and hence it was found to be very weak. The district plans were finally prepared at the state level and hence lacked local specificity to an extent. In this sense, the planning process in comparison to other DPEP states was less decentralised and participatory in Haryana in the initial stages. However, these limitations are overcome at a latter stage. Due to intervention of the centre, the same was taken up to a great extent but compared to other states it was not rigorous and elaborate. One of the significant contribution of the state was that it has originated the idea of Block Resource Centre was porposed in the district plans. Now, BRCs are a common feature in all the DPEP states.
During the plan preparation, its revision and re-drafting at every stage, consultative process was adopted for making it need based with local specific inputs. In order to improve the draft plan, between September-November, 1993, four meetings were held at the SCERT, Gurgaon. Similarly, two workshops were organised at NIEPA, New Delhi. Suggestions were also received from the field supervisors and experts from the large number of meetings conducted at different levels. At the school/village level about sixty such meetings were organised; at the block level about twenty two meetings and at district levels six meetings were organised in which a large number of officers and functionaries took part.
It was noticed during the surveys and planning process that a number of students who were in the Government schools were also enrolled in the private schools. One of the possible reasons of this phenomenon was that the children enrolled in the unrecognized private schools were not allowed to appear in the board examinations held by the state. The State Government has recently withdrawn this condition. The other reason was due to prevailing criteria of admission in the Navodaya Vidhayala and the poor quality of education in the Government Schools. However, the State Government has now introduced an innovative scheme of evaluation and opened admission to both Government as well as Private students in the Navodhaya Vidhayala. Due to implementation of noon-meal scheme in the state, dual enrolment is also noticed to be increased. The likely number of children that are to be covered in the Government schools is also not known because of the fact that many of them are already enrolled in the private schools. But the EMIS under the DPEP do not collect information on unrecognised private institutions. However, on an experimental basis, this variable is now added to the Data Capture Format in one of the DPEP districts in the state.
To monitor the implementation of the district plan an autonomous society, namely, Haryana Prathmik Shiksha Pariyojna Parishad was created in November, 1994. It was only recently that the state has taken initiative to establish SIEMAT and hence most of the faculty positions are lying vacant. The SIEMAT is located at Gurgaon.
One of the positive impact of the existing programmes in the state was that it did not require school readiness programme because of the strong ECCE programmes that were in operation in the state. During the mobilisation campaigns, the villagers pressurised and demanded upgrading their primary schools to middle schools and from middle to high schools so that their wards, specially girls, continue to get education in the same village itself. But opening a new middle school or the upgradation of the primary school to middle school were outside the purview of the DPEP.
The visible change that is noticed in the state is that the process of plan formulation has totally transformed the district people and they are not willing to accept experts from the SCERT whereas at the time of start of the DPEP they were wholly depended upon the SCERT expertise. This shows an improvement in self confidence of the educational functionaries at the district level.
One of the positive feature of the capacity building exercises is that the state has already developed a manual for the VEC members which includes duties, responsibilities and power’s of the VEC members. Based on the experience of the first phase districts, the state feels involvement of the VEC in the planning process requires proper training and orientation. Otherwise, the VEC members will not be able to constitute to the planning process in an effective manner. In fact, VECs are the key to the success only through which things can be put into the right direction and hence more and more powers need to be given to the VEC.
It has also been noticed that the data collection under the EMIS is good but most of the Districts are not in a position to analyse the data which is mainly because of the fact that the Computer Programmers who are appointed in the DPEP districts are not well versed with education system and basic indicators that are needed for planning.
One of the important problems which the state DPEP is facing is that of the frequent change of the State Projector Director, thus creating a lot of coordination and administrative problems. The SPD has changed four times in a short period of about five years.
PLANNING PROCESS UNDER DPEP: KARNATAKA
The District Primary Education Programme was launched in four districts of the state in its first phase. Initially there were hardly any institutional/organisational arrangement in the state which were geared to plan, implement, monitor or evaluate the district level educational programmes. The expertise in planning and management of education were either inadequate or even totally lacking in the districts. It was therefore quite a challenging task to design and develop district education plans by the district people within the time frame that was given. This was even more difficult because the district plans were expected to be evolved through a participatory planning process.
As a first step towards operationalisation of the programme a state level core team was formed. The team represented government officials as well as experts and academicians drawn from resource institutions like Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, Institute of Social and Economic Change, Bangalore and Mysore University. In order to develop district plans it was decided to give the responsibility of one district to one academic expert from these institutions for overall guidance.
The core team constituted in May 1993 had the responsibility to look after all matters concerning pre-project activities, project formulation and networking with resource institutions, periodically visit district and provide the necessary guidance and technical assistance for plan formulation, monitor and review the implementation of programme at regular intervals; establish and operate a computer based MIS and conduct research studies and review and evaluate the programme from time to time.
In order to help the core team members to evolve district plans through participatory planning process a workshop was organised in May 1993 in which experts from national level organisations also participated. This workshop helped identifying broad parameters within which district plans are to be prepared. This workshop also helped drawing a schedule of activities to be undertaken at state and district levels.
The planning exercise at the district level was initiated by through a district core group. The members of district core groups were oriented in a two days workshop organised at the state level in the end of May, 1993. This was the first activity undertaken towards the preparation of district educational plans. A wide variety of people participated in this workshop from the district. This includes inspectors of schools, Asstt. Education Officers, district core team members namely Dy. Commissioner, Chief Secretary Zilla Panchayat, College Principal, DIET faculty, Education Officer, NGOs, headmasters of schools, officials of Women and Child Welfare department etc. This workshop oriented the participants to DPEP the guidelines given by Government of India for plan preparation. Further modalities for eliciting cooperation of local people to ensure participatory planning were also discussed.
Actual planning exercise started after this workshop. During the internal discussions, the role of community members as stakeholders was emphasized and modalities for ensuring community participation were decided. The need for the formation of Village Education Committees (VEC) was also emphasised in the discussion. In order to ensure that the grassroot level people are involved in the planning exercise the district core group team members visited serveral villages to make the people aware about the importance of education specially that of girls and disadvantaged groups. In this regard Chairman and members of Village Panchayat, local leaders, women etc. were involved. They were made aware of the programme (DPEP) to be launched in the district for achieving the goal of universalisationm of primary education. Their help and cooperation was sought to make the programme successful. Villagers were encouraged to form Village Education Committees (VECs) for which broad guidelines were given.
During the process of developing district educational plan some problems were experienced in DPEP phase I in Karnataka. These were : (i) Till that stage guidelines given by Government of India (GOI) for formulating plans were fluid. The GOI was issuing guidelines which kept changing quite frequently; (ii) Due to this frequent change in guidelines, the district teams were hard pressed for time in revising the plan proposals and the plans had to be revised many times; (iii) There was only a limited professional capacity among members of the district planning group and hence they found it very difficult to undertake the job of revision and re-revision in a meaningful way; (iv) The Baseline Assessment Study could not be completed due to paucity of time and that is why the results of this study could not be used for plan formulation in the initial stages; and (v) During the initial phase the decentralization process had just initiated and was minimal as it required a lot of attitudinal change on the part of various people.
During discussions, various points that emerged in connection with the planning process undertaken in DPEP Phase I are as follows : –
- There was hardly any time available between planning and implementation There was very less time available to conduct appropriate in-depth training for the planning groups. There was absolutely no follow up to the initial training. It is therefore clear that the capacity building of district planning groups could not be ensured. There was also a strong need to have follow up training also.
- Adequate and appropriate data were not available on the basis of which district plans could be formulated. Whatever data was available was not only inadequate but was also unreliable. So the educational data system needs to be strengthened and made more reliable.
- There had been frequent transfer of officials in the districts under DPEP which hampered the scope of retaining the planning teams for a considerable time.
- The procurement procedure suggested in the guidelines is quite tedious and that is why there were delays in the procurement and the flow of funds was slow. This is the reason that in the initial years the absorpotion of budget was quite low.
- During the planning and implementation of the programme, horizontal linkages between the existing educational administration machinery and the one that came into existence due to implementation of the programme at state, district and block levels were not properly worked out. The co-ordination between state project office and state Directorate of Education as also SCERT, between District Elementary Education Office and District Project Office, and that between Block Education Office and Block Resource Centre were in many cases either lacking or were not upto the desired level.
- In the initial years of DPEP Phase I there was no clear idea about the institutional arrangement for building in the area of planning and management capacity in the state. In some states including Karnataka, still there is no clear idea whether any state level institution like SIEMAT will be established or will there be some other mechanism evolved at the state level.
PLANNING PROCESS UNDER DPEP : KERALA
The DPEP activities started in Kerala on 15th April, 1993. On this day, the Directorate of Education organised a meeting of DIET principals and staff representatives and educational officers at the State Institute of Education, Trivandrum. In this meeting, the DPEP which was then titled as SSN project was discussed. Besides, the existing educational scenario, the relevance of DPEP in Kerala were also discussed extensively and three educationally backward districts namely Malappuram, Wayanad and Kasaragode were selected for the programme. These three districts have their own specific characteristic features. Malappuram is the largest district having highest percentage of Muslim population; Wayanad is mainly dominated by tribal population; and Kasaragod is a bilingual district. Nearly 10% of all schools in the northern belt have either Kannada medium schools and have parallel classes in Kannada medium. In this meeting, there were discussions on different parameters of the ensuing programme with the expert teams from NIEPA and NCERT. Faculty members from NIEPA, provided outlines on different steps involved in planning of the project. It included specification of objectives; assessment of the situation; specification of targets; strategies; programmes and activities; costing; phasing of the programmes etc. This was succeeded by other informative discussion on different dimensions in formal and non-formal education. In the meeting it was decided that the project documents were to be prepared in respective districts and the DIETs would play a leading role in the planning process. An important aspect focused upon throughout the discussion was the essentiality and relevance of the participatory process in preparing the project document.
Thus Kerala initiated the process of preparation of the project proposal. DIET Principals went back, had prolonged discussions with the DIET staff. It was emphasised that the district level plans were to be developed by those people who were the direct baneficiaries of the programme. This necessitated a consultative process to arrive at areas of convergence to set priorities. So detailed plan was chalked out and systematically carried out.
At the state level it was decided to create a core team to undertake planning and implementation activities. A State Core Team under the Chairmanship of DPI and 14 other members was constituted to initiate planning activities. At the district level, a District Core Team under the Chairmanship of District Collector was also constituted. At the district level, the District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) were entrusted with the major responsibility of preparing district plan documents. A team of 5 members with the DIET Prinicipal as the convenor was formed in each selected district to prepare the plan document. These staff members were relieved from their normal duties so as to enable them to devote full time for plan preparation. There was a nodal officer located in the Directorate of Public Instructions in Trivandrum to coordinate the planning activities.
Besides, advisory committees were formed at state, district, block, panchayat and school levels to facilitate the planning process. The Government also received professional support from all concerned, particularly from the faculty of NIEPA, and NCERT, Officers from the Department of Education, MHRD, Government of India, representatives of the funding agency and members of various Appraisal Missions.
From the very beginning planning activities were decentralised and participation of concerned departments and beneficiaries was emphasized in the planning process. To start with, immediately after the state level discussions on DPEP, the DIET pricipals of selected districts held discussions with DDC, DEOs and AEOs in each district and appraised them on the need for the project, i.e. DPEP. The project details were discussed with District Collectors, Planning Officers, MLAs and other people’s representatives and valuable suggetions were collected. A brochure explaining the objectives of the DPEP and the rough outline of the project procedures were printed. Again meetings of AEOs were held. Project familiarisation exercise was done. AEOs in turn held meetings of the primary school headmasters in their sub-districts and copies of the brochure were distributed to them to hold meetings in their own schools. The headmasters held meetings of their staff, PTA members, representatives of other local bodies and community leaders in their locality. These meetings and discussions created an excellent rapport with the educational functionaries of the selected districts.
In the next phase of activities, DIETS prepared detailed questionnaries to collect information on the existing facilities at school level and also the future requirements. Necessary secondary data were collected from District Officers of different departments. DIET principals and the concerned staff attended several meetings in Trivandrum to discuss the modus operandi of the preparation of the district plan. Thus, need assessment in the field of primary education along with awareness creation campaigns was given top priority in the planning process. Special teams were constituted in DIETs for undertaking relevant studies for preparation of the project. Before preparation of the district plan documents in the concerned districts, several rounds of discussions were held with people’s representatives at district, block, to gather relevant information on primary education in their respective areas. Specifically, discussions were held with : (i) Panchayat Presidents; (ii) PTA functionaries; (iii) tribal leaders; (iv) tribal women ward/members; (v) religious leaders; (vi) Madrasa/Mahalla committee functionaries; (vii) non-governmental organisations; and (viii) office-bearers of clubs, reading rooms, and other cultural organisations and necessary suggestions to improve primary education facilities were collected. Also, studies on Baseline Assessment, Gender, Teacher Training and Tribal Education undertaken in the State by NIEPA, New Delhi and NCERT, New Delhi provided necessary information and data for undertaking the planning exercise. On the basis of data privided by various studies and feedback received from various sections of the society mentioned above, the project plans were prepared in the selected districts. Special training was given by NIEPA, New Delhi for undertaking the planning exercise. Then details plans of action were finalised and were transformed into “interventions”. Justification for each intervention, detailed of implementation strategies, target groups, implementation agencies, financial commitments etc. were clearly mentioned in the draft district plan.
During the last week of July,1993, the Project Identification Mission visited selected districts and held discussions with the District Planning Team members. Such discussions helped to identify the flaws and drawbacks in the plan preparation procedure and provided remedial measures to overcome such problems. In the light of discussions with the Mission members, and their observations and comments, the draft project plan was modified. Detailed information were simultaneously collected from the departments concerned with the development of education in the state. District Collectors held meetings of the Panchayat Presidents and discussed minor details of the project plan. Panchayat Presidents in turn held meetings of the heads of the basic realities in each school, and consolidated the ideas received and sent them to the concerned DIETs. Also, the draft plans were shared with experts at state and national levels. On the basis of suggestions received from all concerned, the draft plans were finalised. It is to be noted here that the consultative process was so intensive that the original draft plan documents had to be revised nearly 10 times before giving them a final shape.
It is worth mentioning here that special measures were taken to involve voluntary agencies and organisations working in the State in the planning process. Experiences gained during the total literacy programme in Kerala was an additional input in the planning exercise. The final project plan was submitted to the Department of Education, MHRD, Government of India in 1994.
In the suceeding years the process of annual work plan preparation involved even more participatory techniques. Block level orientation-cum-discussion was given to Panchayat Presidents and members. Special effort was made to identify existing problems, specific interventions and related activities to be undertaken in Panchayats of selected districts. These were consolidated, prioritised and printed in booklets and distributed to Panchayats.
In the next stage, district level workshops were organised to thoroughly discuss the draft annual plans. These annual work plans were then finalised on the basis of feedback received from such district level workshop. After having obtained the approval of the annual work plan by the District Advisory Body, the information was passed on to the VECs. The VECs then planned and executed the necessary activities for improvement of primary education in their respective villages.
It is to be commented that the decentralisation process which took place during the preparation stage of the project plan facilitated to make the district plans more local specific.
To conclude, such a planning exercise was a novel experience for the state level officers, teachers and general public. Instead of getting things done at the top level a real kind of decentralised planning procedure was adopted. Everybody was able to contribute something in the planning process. The more important thing was that they felt that they had a “role” in the whole planning exercise. It was actually an effort by all concerned to improve primary education in Kerala.
PLANNING PROCESS UNDER DPEP : MADHYA PRADESH
The state has the distinction of initiating a few innovations in the country in the field of education. The Non-Formal Education programme in Tikamgarh and the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme run by Eklavya are the two programmes originated in Madhya Pradesh. In the late 1980s two projects on primary education were initiated in the state – `Roopantar’ project meant for 14 districts initiated by Education Department and `Dhumkuriya’ project meant for 5 districts initiated by Tribal Welfare Department. These projects were in the process of preparation and finalisation when DPEP was introduced in the State.
By early 1993 the concept of District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) was evolved at GOI level and it was decided that all programmes related to UPE should follow a broad approach and guidelines of DPEP. It was therefore decided to merge both `Roopantar’ and `Dhumkuriya’ projects under DPEP in Madhya Pradesh. The emphasis was laid on participatory approach to ensure community participation in the planning process and cover all issues related to primary education i.e. access, participation and quality improvement.
Nineteen districts were covered under the first phase of the DPEP. The exercise of district plan formulation was initiated in 1993 in the state for all the nineteen districts covered under DPEP. In order to develop district educational plans, planning groups were formed at various levels namely state, district, block and village. At the outset state level planning group was constituted to formulate guidelines to prepare district plans and the state component plan. This group also worked out the approach to plan preparation, the strategies, components and the interventions to be incorporated in the plan documents. In this process broad guidelines were finalised and were circulated to districts for evolving district educational plans.
In order to orient district level educational functionaries to develop district plans, a state level workshop was organised in which education officers and tribal welfare officers of all the DPEP districts participated. They were oriented towards formulation of district plans and were provided with guidelines to prepare district plans. It was decided during the workshop to constitute district level planning groups to prepare district plans. The initial plans were based on the data and information collected by the educational functionaries. Later, the plans were modified taking into account the results of the baseline studies.
The district planning groups had representation from all education related departments. Thus the DIETs, District Statistical Office, Rural Engineering Service Department, College of Education, Women and Child Development Department, Panchayat And Rural Welfare Department, District Planning Office, DRDA/DUDA were all represented in the district planning groups.
Data were collected from the villages and blocks and were consolidated at the district level. Further educational needs of villages were assessed at the block level and block level plans were prepared by Block Planning groups. To further decentralise the planning process, Block planning groups were formed with block level officers of different departments as their members. In order to orient the block planning groups a district level workshop was organised in which they were oriented towards school mapping exercise, village survey and preparation of village plans. Collection of village level data and its analysis was carried out to identify actual local level requirements at the Village level.
In order to develop village plans, village planning groups were formed. This was represented by local panchayat members and other public representatives, Anganwadi Workers, Patwari, health workers and Rural Agriculture Extensive Officer etc. These village planning groups were also given orientation towards conducting village surveys to assess educational needs of villages and developing village education plans.
The state received academic and professional support to prepare district educational plans from experts, educationists and professional resource organisations from the state and national levels. Baseline study was conducted by NCERT and the college of education and DIETs helped in training district, block and village level planning groups. Youth volunteers from National Service Scheme and Nehru Yuvak Kendra helped organise planning meetings. Support of NGOs, gender specialists and experts on tribal issues was elicited during the planning process. Similarly, support from experienced, retired teachers and educationists were helpful to assess the training needs at the local level. The approach ensured that the planning process was participatory in nature.
In order to ensure peoples’ participation at large in the planning exercise, people were mobilised through elected local bodies. The local bodies which are active in the state were involved in the planning process. The planning process ensured involvement of local community, VECs, Gram Panchayats, Janpad Panchayats and Zilla Panchayats. A sizeable number of members of local bodies actively participated in the process. The activities undertaken to mobilise people at large in this regard were – organising Shiksha Jyoti Campaign, Kala Jathas, media campaign, seeking cooperation of elected representatives, community melas, PTA meetings, Nukkad Nataks and organisation of folk dances etc. In Madhya Pradesh a bottom up approach was adopted to formulate district educational plans under the DPEP. The planning process started right from the Village level. Village plans were formulated and based on the village plans. Block plans were developed and the district plans were finalised based on consolidating the block plans. This process was not only rigorous but also ensured local participation to evolve district plans.
A major problem faced during the planning exercise was the paucity of time for ensuring participation of all sections of people in the planning process. The actual time that was available to prepare Village plans was hardly two months which was not sufficient enough keeping in view that such exercise was undertaken for the first time and hence planning capacity at the local level was to be developed. To a great extent, the same constraint was experienced in DPEP Phase II districts of the state.
In Phase-I districts gender studies, alongwith other studies, were conducted to identify problems of girls’ education and to address gender issues. But in phase II districts such gender studies have been discontinued and social assessment studies (SAS) are conducted. It was argued that SAS can not take care of gender issues in a meaningful way and so it can not replace gender study. So it was emphasized that gender studies should continue in new districts also where DPEP is being launched.
As noted earlier, Panchayat Raj Institutions were active in the planning process in Madhya Pradesh. It was found that at the village levels most of the deliberations were dominated by PRI representatives. This indirectly contributed to a reduced role of the VEC members. It is important in the context of the state to evolve strategies to strengthen both the local bodies and VECs
Further many a time there was conflict and confrontation between Village Education Committees and local primary school teachers. There is a need for proper orientation of VEC members to clearly understand their roles and responsibilities in planning and management of primary education. Teachers need to be oriented towards the role of VEC so as to make them understand that VECs are organisational arrangements, to help them in managing schools. Such orientation and closer interaction may help them to understand and respect their rights and duties. There was a general agreement that the problems faced during the planning exercises by all states under DPEP should be shared among states so that it may help them to overcome such problems. Such experience sharing exercise should be undertaken on continuous basis.
The experience of DPEP Phase I planning process in Madhya Pradesh shows that; (i) motivation of community is very important if the participatory approach is to be successfully undertaken; (ii) orientation and training of planning groups right from district to village levels should be indepth and rigorous; (iii) certain programmes for VEC members is necessary; the VEC members are to be oriented towards DPEP and more importantly to their roles and responsibilities in developing district plans and implementing them.
PLANNING PROCESS UNDER DPEP : MAHARASHTRA
The Government of Maharashtra initiated pre-project activities in 1993 for the implementation of the District Primary Education Programme in the five districts of the state. (Recently the programme is extended to additional four districts under the DPEP II). Simultaneously, preparation of State Programme of Action for UPE by 2000 was also initiated in the year 1993. Seven districts from the Marathwada region and four Tribal districts with female literacy rates lower than the national average were identified. Later the State POA also emphasised the need for area intensive approach to accelerate UPE in the educationally backward districts of the state. Of the 119 blocks, 103 blocks were educational backwards.
As a first step towards preparing district plans under the DPEP, a meeting was organised in Mumbai where members of the national core team and education functionaries at the state levels and district levels participated. This meeting helped shaping the activities to be undertaken to prepare district plans. Subsequently, a state level committee under the chairmanship of Secretary, State School Education Department was constituted in 1993, with Deputy Secretary (Primary Education), Director of Education, Director of SCERT, Director of SIET, CEO of concerned districts, Joint Directors and Deputy Directors in Directorate, Regional Deputy Director and concerned District Education Officers as it members. Following this, a number of meetings were organised at the state level and district levels to acquaint the functionaries with major concerns of DPEP. More specifically these meetings focussed on issues pertaining to access, retention, quality and capacity building at the local level.
The district level plans were prepared and state component plans were prepared later. Various committees were constituted at the district level and several meetings were organised to make the planning process participatory. The support for district plan preparations were made through workshops organised by NIEPA.
The State Component Plan was formulated with a view to develop a proper information system to create an autonomous society for DPEP, to strengthen state level institutes such as, SCERT to build capacity at the State level and also to establish an institute, namely, the Maharashtra Institute of Educational Planning and Administration for training in the areas of Educational Planning and Management. In view of this, an advisory body, namely, Maharashtra Prathamik Shikshan Parishad was formed under the Societies Act and later its administrative and financial rules were also prepared. In addition to this, later in 1994, a DPEP Cell was also created in the SCERT, Pune.
A number of studies, such as, Baseline Assessment Study, State Finance Study, Teacher motivation study, study on textbooks, Gender study and Tribal Study were conducted in the districts. Similarly, each district conducted a status study on access, retention, quality and capacity building. All these studies became the basis to revise the district plans. Basically, the studies were conducted through the SCERT under the guidance of the National Core Teams. To facilitate the activities of the District Core Team, a state level officer was also associated with each of the five districts included under the DPEP.
Apart from the Project Planning Committee, two separate bodies, namely, District Governing Body and District Executive Committee were also created in each of the five districts under the DPEP. The President, Zilla Parishad was the Chairman of the Governing Body whereas The CEO, Zilla Parishad was the Chairman of the District Executive Committee. Equal representation was given to different departments under the Zilla Parishad and officers working within the education department. The main responsibility of the Governing Body was to review the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project whereas the DEC was entrusted with the responsibility of the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project. Both the district committees worked within the guidelines supplied by the State Level Governing Body and Executive Committee. The President of Zilla Parishad was the Chairman of the District Governing Body whereas the CEO of the concerned district was its Co-Chairman and Additional Collector, Chairman (Education Committee), Regional Deputy Director, Chairman (Mahila Bal Kalyan Samiti), Chairman (Social Welfare Committee), Mayor/President of Municipal Corporation, President (Sarpanch Sanghatana) etc. were its members and Education Officer (Primary) was its Member Secretary.
Similarly, structures were also created at the block and the village levels and equal representation was given to all sections of society. The Chief Executive Officer (Zilla Parishad) was the Chairman of the District Executive Committee and the Education Officer (Primary) was its Member Secretary. The Chairman (Education Committee), District Health Officer, representative of District Project Planning Committee, Executive Engineer (Works) and Education Officer (Secondary) were the other members of this committee. At the Block level, Block Education Committee with Chairman (Panchayat Samiti) as its Chairman was constituted. Sarpanchs of Gram Panchayat, national/state awarded Headmaster/Teachers of Primary School, representative of SC/ST community, members of VEC etc. were other members of the committee. The creation of Cluster Resource Committee was another form of the decentralised process initiated in the districts under the DPEP.
The VEC in the state is in fact the Village Local Committees created by a Government Resolution in 1991. The Head Master of the local Zilla Parishad Primary School was the Member Secretary of the committee. The VEC played critical role at the grassroot level in monitoring and supervising the pre-primary education centers, formal primary schools, NFE centers and adult education centers in its jurisdiction of the Village Panchayat. Village Education Committee also played a vital role in the micro planning process at the village level. The VECs were entrusted with the construction work of toilets in the schools, minor repair works of school building whereas the Grampanchayat was fully entrusted with the construction of one and two room school buildings. The size of the VEC vary from five to fifteen members which consists of representatives of youth, parents, teachers, minorities, backward community and members of the village panchayat, fifty per cent of which are expected to be females. The VEC was formed by the Gram Sabha in a meeting convened by the Gram Panchayat. The VECs have enhanced the affinity and community participation for the DPEP activities and for rapport based quality improvement programme.
As a part of the capacity building exercise and also to initiative participatory planning process, a number of training programmes/workshops/visits were organised at the national, state and local levels during August 1993 and July 1994. Before the programme was formally launched, house to house surveys were also conducted so as to identify drop-out and out-of-school children. Similarly, as part of the participatory planning exercise, a number of meetings and workshops were organised during June- August, 1994 in which Deputy Education Officer, Block Education Officers and ADEIs, Primary School Head Masters and Teachers, Resource Persons etc. took part. Orientation in the household survey, identification of drop-outs, schedule of teachers training, orientation in DPEP and related themes were discussed in these meetings. For convergence purposes, agencies like District Rural Development Agency, Ground Water Survey Department, ICDS, Health Department, Social Welfare Department, Employment Exchange etc. were identified and the activities that were to be converged were listed. Similarly, within Education Department, institutions like SCERT, State Institute of Education MIEPA, SIE and State Textbook Bureau were identified and activities were listed. For the involvement of the local body in the planning process, a meeting was organised at Aurangabad during October 15-16, 1994 and the discussions centred around convergence of DPEP activities. Similarly, a meeting was organised in March 1995 at Aurangabad under the chairmanship of CEO to sought co-operation from the NGOs.
The responsibility of district plans were entrusted to the concerned CEOs who prepared district plans for which District Core Teams were constituted under the Chairmanship of CEO. The district plans were developed through participatory planning approach for which different teams were constituted at the District, Block and the Village levels. All the five draft district plans were then submitted to state level for editing and their integration with the State Component Plan so as to ensure that DPEP is an additionality and also to ensure convergence of the DPEP with similar programmes and schemes of the other departments. Thereafter, the draft State Component and District Plans were submitted to the State Government for its approval.
Despite good start, the state is facing a number of problems. A lot more work needs to be done so far as the capacity building exercise is concerned. The coordination with the DIETs is poor and the procedures for sharing of responsibilities is also not very effective. The extent of decentralisation envisaged did not take place which is more important in view of the states long experience in the area of decentralisation which it ensured through the creation of Zilla Parishad in 1962. More or less, the first phase district plans were developed at the Directorate level. In fact, at the time of launching the programme in 1993, improving the quality of education was one of the major goals and objectives of the programme but the resource utilisation rate shows that it has taken a back seat as the civil work activities account for major share of expenditure. One of the possible reasons for low utilisation is that the money transferred was not utilised because of time constraints. It is a general practice that money is transferred to the district office which in turn is transferred to the block level functionaries who are not in a position to spend it at a short notice. Perhaps, this may not be the only reason for the low utilisation of funds.
The civil work could not be completed in the first three years of the project because of the shortage of the staff in DRDA which was identified as the main construction agency. However, the State is of the view that the civil works will be completed during the next year; all the BRCs and additional classrooms will be constructed by the next year. The State is also of the view that so far as the utilisation on account of educational components is concerned, visioning is one of the most important factors for which rigorous training needs to be given to the district functionaries.
Although MIEPA was established in 1994 at Aurangabad, the institute has not yet become fully functional. The institute has recently got a regular Director, but it has not yet got adequate Resource Persons and Faculty Members; similarly it does not have its own building. Presently, the Institute is functioning in a rented building The State is planning to construct a separate building for the institute. Since the institute is located in an educationally backward district, it is not possible to get good resource persons in adequate number for the smooth conduct of its research and training programmes. At present, some of the Government Officers are working as Resource Persons but they have certain limitations. Alternatively, the Institute at present, has also trained some of the district officers of the DPEP; but this is not a happy arrangement. In view of this, the Institute is compelled to invite Resource Persons either from Pune or Mumbai or from Delhi whenever programmes are organised.
Most of the first phase districts also faced problems in procuring items required under different component headings. For better procurement, training in PERT and CPM techniques needs to be given to the project staff. The DPEP districts also faced coordination problems because of the fact that the State Secretariat, Education Directorate and MIEPA are all located in different places. One of the other major problem is the frequent transfer of the DPEP staff. During the period, the SPD was changed many times. However, state is having benefit of the experience of the Education Secretary who is in office for more than eight years. This provides continuity to the programmes.
DISTRICT PLANNING IN EDUCATION UNDER DPEP : TAMILNADU
The DPEP activities in the state started in February, 1993 when Tamilnadu government received a communication from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, to prepare a project under DPEP to achieve Universal Primary Education by the year 2000. Accordingly, three districts with female literacy rate below the national average, namely Dharmapuri, South Arcot and Thiruvannamalai, were selected for the purpose. Initially, the state government was quite new to the concepts of participatory and decentralized planning processes as suggested by the Ministry of HRD, Government of India. However, with the available professional expertise in the state, Tamilnadu initiated efforts towards developing district plans.
The planning exercise under DPEP in Tamilnadu was undertaken by the Directorate of Elementary Education. A small unit at the state level was established to undertake the planning exercise. This unit constituted a State Core Team to facilitate the planning process. This unit was responsible for giving final shape to the district as well as state plans under DPEP in Tamilnadu.
Before undertaking the planning exercise for each of the three selected districts, a Visualisation Meeting was organised at state level in Madras from 1st to 5th February, 1993. Officials from Directorates of School Education, Elementary Education, Teacher Education, Research and Training and Non- Formal Education participated in this meeting. Also, a team of seven officials consisting of two block level education officers, one Deputy Inspector of Schools, one headmaster of the primary school, one Aided School headmaster, one teacher representative and one member from the Non-Governmental Organisation from each selected district participated in this state level meeting. The basic objectives of this meeting was to: (i) discuss the salient features of Social Safety Net and DPEP; (ii) discuss the problems and issues relating to universalisation of primary education in the selected districts; and (iii) to suggest ways and means to achieve universal primary education in the districts. Based on initial write-ups on problems and issues in universalisation of primary education in the selected districts, various alternative strategies for universalisation of primary education in the identified districts were suggested in the meeting.
The next phase of activities was for the preparation of the preliminary project documents for the selected districts. The visualisation meeting in Madras was followed by discussions on DPEP at the district level. One Deputy Director of Education and one faculty from Madras DIET were deputed to each one of the three selected districts to initiate discussions with District Teams, consisting of representatives from all sections of primary education, on planning process to be undertaken in these districts. This District Team, with the professional assistance from the state level officers, prepared the preliminary district plan documents on the basis of DPEP guidelines. In these plan documents, problems and issues in achieving universal primary education were clearly identified and strategies were spelt out. The available data collected from the districts were taken as the base for preparing the preliminary plan documents.
The preliminary plan documents were then discussed by the State Core Team, consisting of representatives from the Directorate of Elementary Education, Directorate Teacher Education, Research and Training, District Education Officer, Dharmapuri and Madras Institute of Development studies. Also the plan documents were shared with the representatives of the funding agencies, Ministry of HRD, Government of India and Resource Organisations such as NIEPA and NCERT in March, 1993. On the basis of the suggestions received from these organisations, the initial plan documents were revised in which emphasis was on participatory planning and decentralisation of the planning process. The final district plan documents were then submitted to the Ministry of HRD, Department of Education, Government of India on 29th April, 1993. However, it is to be noted here that the professional expertise provided by the representatives of the funding agency, Department of Education, Ministry of HRD, Government of India, Resource Organisations such as NIEPA and NCERT, and members of the Preparatory Mission helped in making the planning process decentralised and participatory. Also consultation of plan documents and reports of on-going projects like Bihar Education Project and Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Project (APPEP) helped the planning process.
The Phase I draft plan prepared in June 1993 was scrutinised by the members of the National Core Team and funding agencies. These plans were further revised. NIEPA organised workshops to revise the district plans. These revised plans were submitted to MHRD and members of the Appraisal Mission. Needless to add, the district plans were revised many times before they were finalised. Meanwhile the state government prepared the state component plan, which were also appraised and finalised along with the district plans.
The decentralised planning process and participatory method of evolving plan documents are the two important features of the DPEP. The DPEP Plan Documents speak much of its participatory approach. Therefore, the planning team took every care, labour and pains in making the plan more participatory in its contents and processes. Opinion gathering local meetings with the local level functionaries like Assistant Elementary Education Officers (AEEO’s) and Deputy Inspectors, Head masters, Teachers and the Retired Officers, Head masters, Teachers etc. were conducted invariably at all blocks of the three districts. Utmost care was taken to incorporate their views, opinions and suggestions in the plan documents.
Members of the Mother Teacher Council (MTC), Parent Teacher Associations (PTA), Representatives of NGOs and Community leaders participated in the discussions and highlighted the constraints to achieve UPE and feasible means to overcome these constraints. Need Assessment Meetings at the village level with Headmasters, Teachers and Village Community, MTC, Building Committee were conducted. The Inspecting Officers, Principals of the respective DIETS and faculty Members of DIETS participated in the discussions leading to design the strategies and remedial measures.
DPEP is an additionality. It comes to the rescue and renders additional interventions to the departments who are working in the same field for the realisation of universal enrolment, retention and achievement. DPEP initiatives are to cope with the on-going programmes by other departments. Moreover, education is also a multifaceted affair. The convergence of departments like Health, Social, Harijan, Tribal Welfare departments, Revenue, TWAD Board and Local Administration Departments serve much to the cause of Universalisation of Elementary Education. So a co-ordinated communication network, and multipronged targetting will help a lot in the realisation of the DPEP goals and objectives directly or indirectly. Tamilnadu Phase I plans have therefore, envisaged initiatives to realise convergence of activities initiated by all the other departments and bodies serving in the same direction. Even at the State Level Planning Process, this aspect is taken care of. All the Secretaries of the Education Department and Co-ordinating Departments have become ex-officio members in the Tamilnadu Mission of Education for All. At the district level, a meeting was conducted under the Chairmanship of the District Collector with participants from other departments. The participants were: Revenue Divisional Officer; Rural Development Officer; Social Welfare Officer; District Development Officer; Adi Dravida Welfare Officer; District Medical Officer; District PWD Engineers; and District Labour Welfare Officer.
Convergence of intra-departmental units has also been taken care of in the planning process. A live co-ordination between the Arivoli Iyakkam, NFE, ECCE, Alternate Schools, Middle Schools High Schools has been established for giving ample scope for discussions.
There were no elected local bodies in Tamilnadu at the time of district planning under DPEP in 1993. Therefore, local participation meant involvement of local VIPs and socially recognised persons, PTA members, teachers and community members. However, in Phase II planning process, the state has involved the Local Bodies in the planning process both in District Level Planning and in Micro Planning as there are elected representatives now. Moreover, the services of the Municipal Commission and its official machinery were made use of in urban areas wherever needed. The Panchayat Union Commissioner/B.D.O. and the officials under them at the Block level were consulted in the planning process.
An impartial assessment will hold that though decentralisation did take place in the planning process, its extent was not to the expected level. This was primarily due to the fact that such a planning exercise was largely new to the state. Besides, the reality was that the lower level organisations and institutions were not ready with their prepositions and data to cope with full decentralisation. The ground level functionaries were not fully aware of the new opportunities to express their views.
Initially, the plan documents were weak in terms of participatory approach and decentralisation of the planning process. However, this problem could be solved, after intensive consultations and discussions with various concerned organisations and agencies. Similarly, the plan documents in the initial stages were lacking necessary data and information. Hence the district plans were revised.
The final plan documents, after revisions, were substantially different from the initial plan documents. An important point to be noted here is that the planning process became more consultative and participatory in nature. The Tamilnadu government has taken all necessary steps to institutionlise people’s participation in the planning process under DPEP to universalise primary education in the selected districts.