Public-Private Mix in Secondary Education in India: Size, In-school Facilities, and Intake Profile 2022
by N K Mohanty, NIEPA Occasional Paper Series, Paper 58 (2022), NIEPA, New Delhi
One of the NIEPA Faculty Members has recently come out with an article on Public-Private Mix in Secondary Education in India in terms of Size, in-school facilities, and intake profile which is published under NIEPA Occasional Paper Series, Paper 58 and was published in the year 2022. The Abstract of the paper as adapted from the original research paper of N. K. Mohanty is presented below. Readers are advised to refer Original Article from the NIEPA website whose link is presented below and give full reference to the material used in any form.
“The Government of India started focusing on secondary education and launched the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan (RMSA) in 2009 with contemplated targets of providing universal access to secondary education by 2017. Besides improving access and equity, the RMSA aimed at improving the quality of secondary education by making schools conform to prescribed standards, including physical infrastructure, pupil-teacher ratio (PTR), qualification of teachers, curriculum, focus on science subjects, teacher training, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). However, the approach to quality improvement in the RMSA, like the Right to Education (RTE), was input-focused and not outcome-oriented. The paper aims at looking into the structure and size of the secondary school network by management and region, their characteristics in terms of facilities, staffing pattern and student profile across key states in India. The paper also attempts to find patterns in the participation rates in secondary education by management and their implications for equity, particularly to examine the RMSA strategies to address regional imbalances in secondary schooling provisions. The paper finds that although RMSA had aimed at improving physical access to and in-school facilities in secondary schools/sections (the only government managed) to make them conform to norms and standards, the success in this direction is inadequate as evident from the following; (i) the percentage share of government secondary schools has decreased whereas the percentage share of private-unaided secondary schools has increased between 2009-10 and 2016-17 at the national level and in the majority of states.; (ii) there are considerable differences between government and private secondary schools in terms of in-school provisions (classrooms, infrastructure facilities, teaching-learning material, library, extra-curricular activity, etc.), including staffing patterns and teacher quality, enrolment of students at the secondary levels. As a result, there is persistent regional disparity in access and quality of education as reflected by the low level of performance of students in class X board examinations between government and private secondary schools. It was also found that in-school facilities are potent to the high academic achievement of students. In view of these findings, it is suggested that the Government needs to focus on providing adequate material resources to secondary schools to enhance the quality of teaching and learning processes. This effort would certainly go a long way in improving and strengthening secondary education and improving the overall performance of the students and institutions at the secondary school level in India.” [Click to read original article]
Observations by Prof. Arun C Mehta
The author has rightly used 2009-10 to 2016-17 UDISE data to take a view of what was promised to achieve as a part of the Government’s flagship program, namely RMSA, and what are the challenges to attain the unfinished task. The analysis of data undertaken does not reveal anything new which is not known before. The author confined his analysis up to the year 2016-17 but he must have also analyzed the same especially when the data is available for the period 2017-18 to 2020-21. It may also be observed that RMSA is not over only point is that it has merged with the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.
If the objectives of RMSA are not achieved it may be because most of the time the program was confined to only secondary schools under government management. The status of the available data reveals where do we stand concerning universal secondary education but the same cannot be viewed independently to the elementary level of education as this level of education is expected to send the elementary graduates to the first level i.e. Grade IX of the secondary level of education. If the objectives of the program are not met was it because of the failure of the RMSA or the same couldn’t be achieved because of ineffective implementation of the then another flagship program of the Government of India, namely Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan failing which it is not wise to make observations on success or failure of any program concerning the secondary level of education.
Based on the brief analysis of the data, the author rightly opined that “RMSA had put too much emphasis on improving physical access to and facilities in secondary schools/sections, filling in gaps in the infrastructure and staff in the existing secondary schools/sections to make them conform to norms and standards, the success in this direction is far from satisfactory” and suggested that more detailed data be collected and analyzed concerning the factors influence the schooling decisions, whether households differentiate between their sons and daughters while choosing schools, factors affecting household decisions concerning investment in girls’ education and suggested that meta-analysis of existing research be undertaken and collect and analyze primary data and information from all stakeholders in secondary education. The author may like to refer to a recent study conducted by a NIEPA scholar which can answer a few questions that the author has raised (Socio-Economic Status of Households and School Participation: A Study of Select Villages in Faridabad District of Haryana by Anshul Saluja, November 2020). Even though the study is largely confined to the primary level of education but findings of the study undertaken are also true as well for the secondary level of education.
The questions raised by the author will allow knowing more about parents’ choices and other similar issues but how the unfinished task concerning universal secondary enrolment will be achieved; the author has failed to make it a point to highlight the importance of the usefulness of the effective plan formulation under the ongoing Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan of which the secondary education is also the part of. The author must have reviewed the available plan formulation modules not only for secondary education but also for the elementary level of education both of which are now part of the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.
A careful study of the ongoing process of the plan formulation would have revealed that the same is not being formulated as envisaged and largely plans are now formulated based on the EXCEL Tables which is true across the Country. Without plans being formulated at the disaggregated levels, can the unfinished task be achieved? It is also a fact that there is a complete lack of a planning module, especially after the merging of SSA and RMSA into the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. Still both the components use the same set of EXCEL tables that were in use for plan formulation under the previous SSA and RMSA.
NIEPA, the apex educational planning institute must take a lead and come out with a modified planning module/methodology and orient the state and district level officers in using the same. At present NIEPA is not playing a direct role in plan formulation which is being formulated as per the directives of the Technical Support Group and the capacity-building programs that NIEPA is conducting have very limited reflection in the annual work plans being formulated as a part of Samagra Shiksha. Unless both the TSG and NIEPA follow the same planning methodology, one cannot expect improvement in the process of plan formulation for which they must join hands. Without further delay, it must be taken up at the highest level as the entire school education is affected by it.