Arun C. Mehta
Fellow, NIEPA, New Delhi
Despite spectacular quantitative expansion of educational facilities in the country, the goal to achieve universal primary education still remains a dream. Various efforts have been made in the past to achieve UEE. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is the recent initiative of the Government of India. The main objective of SSA is to achieve the goal of universal primary education by 2007 and universal elementary education by 2010. It also envisages bringing back all un-enrolled, out of school, never enrolled and dropped out children by 2003. To bridge all gender and social category gaps at primary stage by 2007 and at elementary education level by 2010 are the other objectives of SSA. SSA is an effort to universalise elementary education by community-ownership of the school system. SSA is also an attempt to provide an opportunity for improving human capabilities to the poorest children, through community-owned quality education in a mission mode.
District Plans: Background
Under SSA, all the districts of the country are required to develop elementary education plans with emphasis on both primary and upper primary levels of education. SSA envisages a variety of pre-project activities and based upon the outcomes of these activities the districts are supposed to develop its perspective plan. Conducting household survey, baseline learners’ assessment studies (BAS), social assessment studies, diagnostic study, filling-up of the existing positions of teachers, rationalization of teachers, awareness campaigns etc. are some of the important pre-project activities which the districts have undertaken in one or the other form. Funds were released to districts to carry out pre-project activities. Household surveys were conducted to know the number of out-of-school children and reasons of never been enrolled and dropout. On the other hand diagnostic studies were conducted to identify educationally backward areas, focus groups and major problems and limitations in the district. BAS was expected to create benchmark database of learner’s achievement both in case of primary and upper primary level of education. The districts are envisaged to develop elementary plans based upon the outcome of the habitation-specific plans. However, most of the districts are yet to develop habitation-specific plans. Districts in a number of states are yet to develop perspective plans. The perspective plans are supposed to be approved at the beginning of the programme and the annual plan at the beginning of each year.
Based upon the outcome of the pre-project activities, districts across the country have proposed a number of interventions, which are appraised by the GOI appraisal missions and plans are approved and money released. Some of these interventions are like, opening of new schools, appointment of additional teachers, teaching learning equipment for new schools, school grant, maintenance grant, research grant, teacher training, teacher grant, setting up of resource centers, civil works, etc. Since annual plans in most of the districts have already been approved, the focus needs to be sifted to the monitoring of the implementation. Many of these interventions need to be monitored on regular basis. Needless to mention that monitoring would focus more on the quantitative aspect of both the status of the implementation of the project and the progress made towards the achievement of the SSA goals.
Need for Monitoring
For successful implementation of a programme, an effective monitoring system is essential. Monitoring is a mechanism to identify periodically the bottlenecks in implementing the programme and to take remedial measures to improve the effectiveness of the programme when the programme is still on. For effective monitoring system, an efficient management information system is essential without which neither the progress can be properly analyzed nor the corrective measures can be undertaken. In the DPEP districts, an effective EMIS is already in position but the same is yet to be established in the SSA districts. Keeping in view the importance of the programme, a number of provisions are made in the SSA framework with emphasis on transparent community based EMIS and monitoring system. It also envisages that monitoring teams will make random visits to the selected schools periodically and the outcome of such visits will be discussed at various levels. The basic principle in monitoring will be its community ownership.
Frequency of Monitoring
Since the frequency of data collection under the DISE is annual, indicators generated through it can only be monitored annually. Information requirements that need to be monitored are different at different levels. Information on a few variables needs to be collected more than once in a year. The frequency of collection of such variables would depend upon the nature of a variable, objective of monitoring and level at which a particular variable is required to be monitored. Keeping in view the nature of a variable, frequency of monitoring can either be monthly, quarterly or annual. Therefore information requirements and frequency of collection will be different at village, cluster, block, district, state and national levels. Same set of indicators can be monitored at the village, district and other higher levels. But all indicators need not be monitored at the lowest or the highest level. For example, average attendance should be monitored at the school/village level, frequency of which may be monthly but the same is not required to be monitored at the state level on monthly basis. The remedial measures if any, in this case are to be initiated by the Head Master or VEC or School Management Committee and not by the officers at the higher levels. Needless to mention that monitoring is always undertaken in relation to the targets which may either is annual or quarterly in nature. State level targets may be different from the national level targets. Even within a state, districts may have different targets than the state level targets.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of monitoring is the feedback mechanism. It should not be one way. Keeping in view the responsibility and powers delegated to the officials and the community at different levels as also the nature of the variable, the level at which a variable needs to be monitored is decided. Progress on targets like, enrolment ratio, dropout rate, completion rate, access ratio etc. should be monitored annually at all levels. Keeping in view the progress, targets can also be revised. This will help project functionaries to adopt alternative strategies. Similarly, there may be system level indicators, which should be monitored at the higher levels.
One of the other important aspects of monitoring is to identify agency that will be given responsibility of monitoring at different levels. This would also vary from level to level and may also vary from state to state. Therefore the monitoring framework and set of indicators that need to be monitored cannot be exactly the same for all the States & UTs. However, there may be a set of common indicators/parameters across the states. The states may add additional variables for their own requirements to make it local-specific.
At the village level, bodies like, Panchayati Raj Institutions, School Management Committees, Village Education Committees, Parents’ Teachers’ Associations, Mother Teacher Associations etc. can be entrusted the task of monitoring. One or more of these bodies can be given responsibility of monitoring. In addition, individuals at village level, such as, teachers, head teacher/head master, village leaders and patwaris, can also be involved in monitoring. The VECs can take care of the primary schools but alternative arrangements would have to be evolved for the upper primary schools. Upper primary schools cater to the needs of more than one village. Therefore, representatives of the VECs of all the feeder schools or School Management Committees can be entrusted the task of monitoring in case of the upper primary schools. At the cluster level CRC and at block level, BRC can be entrusted with the task of monitoring. NGO’s and officers from other departments at the block level, such as, rural development can also be involved in the process of monitoring. At the district level, DIET may be the nodal agency for monitoring but NGO’s and other departments and agencies (rural development, non-formal education, adult education, welfare department, NIC etc.) in the district should also be part of the monitoring process. In addition, possibilities should also be explored to involve district level institutions too in the process of monitoring (if available and relevant). At the state level, research and resource institutions, like SCERT, SIEMAT, SIE, RIE’s of NCERT, ICSSR funded institutions, University Education Departments, NIC etc. may be entrusted the task of monitoring. Possibilities should also be explored to identify experienced NGO’s so that the same is also involved in the process of monitoring at the state level. Representatives of the national level institutions can also undertake periodic monitoring and provide resource support to the state level implementation society. The state level implementation agency may have autonomy to develop monitoring mechanism and entrust the task of monitoring to any agency or a group of individuals within the state. However, they should also cater to the need of monitoring at the national level.
What needs to be monitored at different levels and who will monitor what?
School Notice Board
Since the SSA envisages transparent and community based monitoring system, each and every primary and upper primary school will have to display a variety of information on its notice board. The schools will also need to send a variety of information periodically to the higher levels or to the agencies that entrusted the task of monitoring. The following information may be disseminated through the school notice board. The list is suggestive one and more variables may be added keeping in view the requirements at the local levels.
- School grants received and its utilization
- Teachers grant received and its utilization
- Any other grants or fee received/collected and its utilization
- Class-wise attendance (daily) alongwith enrolment
- Teaching-learning equipments available in the school
- Details of incentives and number of beneficiaries
- Information concerning enrolment, repeaters, dropouts’ etc. reported to the higher levels etc.
Village & Cluster Level
Information on the above variables would require to be updated periodically. For example, class-wise attendance will need to be updated daily for all the classes in a school separately for boys & girls and other focus groups. The monitoring agency at the village level (like VEC/SDC) would monitor attendance weekly and will then transmit it to the monitoring agency at the cluster level (like CRC) on monthly basis. The monitoring agency at the cluster level will receive monthly attendance from all the schools under its jurisdiction. At the CRC level, the attendance received from the schools will be used to compute average monthly attendance school-wise as well as class-wise within the school. The agency responsible at the CRC level will then analyze the average attendance and give its feedback to all the schools under its jurisdiction monthly. He will then translate school-specific average attendance rates into the cluster-specific attendance rate and transmit these to the monitoring agency at the block level (like BRC). The monitoring agency at the block level will give its feedback to all the CRC’s under its jurisdiction on quarterly basis. The cluster-specific attendance rate will then be used to generate block-specific attendance rates and these will be transmitted to the district level-monitoring agency bi-annually (like DIET). The district level-monitoring agency will give its feedback to all the BRC’s under its jurisdiction bi-annually. The monitoring agency at the district level will generate district-specific attendance rates and in turn transmit these to the state level monitoring agency (like State level Research and Resource Institutions) bi-annually and the state agency will transmit these to the national level-monitoring agency annually. In addition, the monitoring agency at the state level will also report the attendance to the state level project implementation body bi-annually and will also provide its feedback to the district level monitoring agency as well as to the district level implementation agency. At the national level, state-specific average attendance in case of the primary and upper primary level will be received separately in case of boys and girls annually.
One of the other similar variables that need to be monitored closely at different levels is the progress towards additional enrolment achieved. At the grassroots level it will be monitored by the village level monitoring agency regularly. They will send their report about the additional enrolment achieved and number of out-of-school children to the agency at the cluster level quarterly. The monitoring agency at the cluster level, in turn, will give its feedback to the agency at the village level and will also transmit the information to the block level agency quarterly. This report will be received at the district level quarterly and will then be transmitted to the state level agency bi-annually. At the national level, additional enrolment achieved will be received annually. Information on other variables may also flow similarly but the periodicity and the feedback mechanism will vary from state to state and from variable to variable.
The body entrusted with the task of monitoring at the village level would also require monitoring the following activities and will give its feedback to the monitoring agency at the cluster level periodically.
- Construction of school buildings
- Construction of additional classrooms
- Teacher’s absenteeism
- General toilets and toilets for girls
- Drinking water
- Construction of boundary walls
- Major and minor repairs of school buildings
- School environment
- Additional enrolment achieved
- Student’s absenteeism/dropout
In addition, the members of the community (VEC/PTA members) will help in conducting household survey; undertaking micro planning exercises, validating information collected through the DISE etc. They will also keep liaison with the parents of the children in general and never enrolled, irregular and out-of-school children in particular. They are also supposed to have updated information on 0-14 years children in the village alongwith the out-of-school and dropped out children.
The agency at the village level will keep track of the constructional activities undertaken in the village. This will include construction of school buildings, construction of additional rooms in the existing schools, construction of boundary walls, major and minor repairs of the school buildings undertaken and completed etc. It will send feedback about the status of the construction to the concerned agency at the cluster level quarterly. The agency at the cluster level will prepare a consolidated report of all the constructions undertaken under its jurisdiction and will transmit it to the block level monitoring agency quarterly. The block level agency will then prepare a consolidated report of all the construction works undertaken in the block and will transmit it to the district level monitoring agency quarterly. The district level-monitoring agency will then transmit the consolidated information of all the constructional activities to the state level-monitoring agency quarterly. The state level agency will then transmit it to the national level agency annually. At each of these levels, the agency at the higher level will give its feedback to the reporting agency as soon as the information is received by it.
The village level-monitoring agency will also monitor provision of drinking water, toilets and separate toilets for girls in the schools and will send its feedback quarterly to the monitoring agency at the cluster level. The agency at the cluster level will consolidate information of all schools under its jurisdiction and will transmit it to the agency at the block level quarterly. It will also provide its feedback to the agency at the village level regularly. The district level-monitoring agency will receive reports from all of its block level agencies bi-annually. District level agency will then in turn provide its feedback to all the blocks bi-annually and will also transmit the consolidated report to the state level-monitoring agency annually. It will then be transmitted to the national level agency by the state level-monitoring agency.
There may be a variety of other variables that also need to be monitored at the cluster level. One of the such variables is the construction of the CRC building (if applicable) and CRC meetings held and its follow-up action. The monitoring agency at the cluster level will report its activities to the block level monitoring agency periodically. The frequency of the progress of the CRC buildings may be quarterly. Once the building is completed, no report will need be sent to the district level authority. But the agency at the cluster level will be required to send details of the meetings held at CRC, number attended, major issues discussed and follow-up action monthly to the block level monitoring agency. The block level agency will consolidate its report concerning all the CRC’s under its jurisdiction and will then transmit it to the district level monitoring agency bi-annually. The district level monitoring agency after receiving upon reports from all the block level monitoring agencies under its jurisdiction will consolidate the information and send it to the state level monitoring agency bi-annually. At the national level, the reports will be received annually concerning number of CRC buildings constructed and average number of meetings held per CRC.
At the block level, monitoring agency will periodically receive reports from the cluster level agencies. It will give feedback to these agencies and will also transmit the information to the district level monitoring agency from time to time. In addition, the block level-monitoring agency will also monitor other activities initiated in the block, which may be of the following nature:
- Construction of CRC buildings proposed if any, initiated and completed
- Construction of BRC building
- Progress towards opening of new schools/EGS schools
- Number of school buildings constructed
- Functioning of CRC’s/CRC meetings held and follow-up
- Teachers vacancies
- Training programmes proposed and conducted
- Number of untrained primary and upper primary teachers
- Teachers involved in other activities
The first important activity that the block level monitoring agency will monitor is the construction of the BRC building. It will send the progress report to the district level monitoring agency quarterly about the status of the BRC building. On receiving upon the progress reports from all the block level monitoring agencies, the district level monitoring agency will transmit the information quarterly to the state level monitoring agency. The state level agency will then send the information to the national level agency annually.
One of the other important activities that the block level monitoring agency will monitor is about the BRC and its activities in terms of training programmes conducted, number of primary and upper primary school teachers trained, backlog of untrained teachers etc. The frequency of such reporting may be quarterly and it will be reported to the district level monitoring agency. The district level agency will then transmit the progress quarterly to the state level agency and in turn it will be transmitted to the national level agency annually. At each of these levels, the receiving agency will provide its feedback to the reporting agency immediately upon receiving the information from the lower level monitoring agency.
The other important activity that the block level agency will monitor is the progress towards opening of new primary, EGS and upper primary schools periodically. The frequency of such reporting to the district level monitoring agency may be bi-annual. Similarly, the number of teacher vacancies (teachers and para-teachers) in primary, EGS and upper primary schools will also be reported to the district level agency quarterly. The district level agency in turn will report it to the state level agency bi-annually. At the national level, the number of teacher vacancies will be received annually along with the number of the sanctioned posts.
The block level monitoring agency will also monitor the progress of additional enrolment achieved which they receive from the monitoring agency at the CRC level. They will report the progress to the district level agency quarterly and will also give its feedback to the agency at the cluster level immediately upon receiving the report.
The district level monitoring agency will monitor all the information that it receives from the block level monitoring agencies from time to time and will provide its feedback to the reporting agency immediately upon receipt of the information. Many of these variables alongwith the frequency of reporting has already been discussed in the preceding section. In addition, it is also required to monitor a set of additional variables. Construction of BRC buildings proposed, undertaken and completed is one such variable that needs to be monitored at the district level. The information needs to be transmitted to the state level quarterly and will be received at the national level monitoring agency annually from the state level agency.
As has been mentioned above that the district level monitoring agency will also monitor training of VEC/Panchyat members, teachers, head masters, master trainers etc. that it receive from the block level. In other words, it will also monitor activities of BRC’s under its jurisdiction on the quarterly basis. Details of such activities have already been presented above. The district level monitoring agency will also monitor activities of the DIET with respect to training. As has been mentioned above that it will monitor recruitment and transfer of teachers and vacant positions of teachers including the para-teachers and head masters both in case of the primary and upper primary teachers, in cases where they are appointment authority. Additional enrolment achieved, attendance, etc. will be other important variables that needs to be monitored periodically at the district level.
Utilization of funds against allocation on different components such as, access, retention, management, research, innovation, quality, civil works etc. will be the other major areas that need to be monitored quarterly. The district level monitoring agency will provide feedback to all the block level monitoring agencies under it jurisdiction on quarterly basis and will send the utilization report to the state level monitoring agency quarterly. The state level monitoring agency will transmit the information to the national level agency bi-annually.
At the end of each academic year, a variety of indicators need to be developed and critically analyzed. The same set of indicators will then be transmitted to the state level annually. However, at the national level only a few district level indicators will flow and most of the indicators will be state-specific. The detailed list of all such indicators is presented in the subsequent section.
The state level monitoring agency will receive reports from the district level monitoring agencies. The type of information that flow alongwith the frequency of reporting has already been presented in the preceding sections. On receiving upon reports from the district level monitoring agencies, the state level agency will immediately provide its feedback to all the district level monitoring agencies. It will also consolidate information at the state level and will transmit it to the national level monitoring agency. In addition, the state level monitoring agency will also monitor the following activities:
- Positions filled and vacant posts at the state level, Directorate/SCERT
- Position filled and vacant post at district level, DEO office and DIET
- Positions filled and vacant posts at block level/BRC coordinators
- Positions filled and vacant in schools, teachers, head teachers and head masters
- Vacant posts in State Project Office and SIEMAT
- Vacant posts in District Project Offices
- Vacant posts in the BRC/CRC
The other important area that needs to be monitored at the state level is the utilization of funds against the allocation. The state will receive information on this account from all the districts on the quarterly basis. The monitoring agency at the state level will provide its feedback to all the districts immediately upon receiving the reports. It will also consolidate the information and will send it to the state-specific utilization report to the national level monitoring agency bi-annually.
For effective monitoring, a set of performance indicators need to be developed at the national level that needs to be analyzed state-wise. Presented below is a set of indicators concerning access, enrolment and retention. Needless to mention that the list presented is not exhaustive one and more indicators can be added to it. It may also be noted that information on a few indicators may not be readily available. The list of indicators is prepared keeping in view the monitoring requirements and not whether the data is available or not.
- Total number of habitations
- Number and percentage of habitations having primary and upper primary schooling facilities as per the state norms of population and distance
- Number and percentage of habitations having non-formal education centres, EGS and other type of alternative schooling facilities
- Percentage of unserved habitations (primary and upper primary) to total number of habitations
- Percentage of rural population served by primary and upper primary schooling facilities as per the state norms
- Number and percentage of new schools opened and proposed
- Number and percentage of EGS/ alternative education centres proposed and opened
- Ratio of primary to upper primary schools/sections
- Number and percentage of construction of BRC/CRC buildings proposed and constructed
- Number and percentage of schools provided boundary walls and proposed
- Number and percentage of school buildings proposed, undertaken and constructed
- Number and percentage of additional classrooms proposed and constructed
- Number of renovations (of school buildings) proposed and undertaken distributed according to major and minor repairs and
- Number and percentage of schools provided drinking water, toilets and separate toilets for girls against proposed.
- Distribution of out of school children (boys/girls/SC/ST/OBC/child labour/migratory population, disabled children) and its percentage to total number of children in the relevant age group. This should be monitored separately in different age groups, like 6-11, 9-14,11-14, 6-14 etc. Similarly, out of school children according to single age population over time should also be monitored
- Number and percentage of children additionally enrolled against proposed
- Growth of enrolment at primary and upper primary levels of education separately for boys and girls
- Grade wise enrolment, separately for boys/girls/SC/ST, OBC child workers and physically challenged children
- Entry rate separately in case of boys and girls and for socio-economic groups
- GER and NER separately for different focus groups, such as, girls, SC, ST and OBC children. This should be viewed in relation to the targets that are set out on this aspect
- Average attendance rates in primary and upper primary classes separately for boys & girls, SC, ST and OBC children
- Number of primary school graduates and
- Percentage of amount spent on enrolment drives against sanctioned and released
- Retention (or drop out) rates both at the primary and upper primary level of education, separately for boys and girls. This should be viewed in relation to the targets
- Grade-to-grade promotion, drop out and repetition rates, separately for boys and girls (along with number of repeaters and drop outs in different grades)
- Graduation (completion) rates at the primary level, separately for boys and girls alongwith the achievement levels
- Transition rates from primary to upper primary and from upper primary to secondary levels of education, separately for boys and girls and
- Percentage amount incurred on retention related activities, such as, innovative projects and research) to the total expenditure. (See whether the research studies proposed are undertaken/completed and results are used in setting out the priorities and forming strategies).
Teachers & Training
- Number of teachers and para-teachers appointed against the proposed
- Number of teachers trained against the total proposed alongwith the number of training programmes proposed and conducted
- Number of programmes proposed and conducted for VEC/Panchyat members
- Number and percentage of VEC/Panchyat members trained and proposed
- Number of programmes proposed for Head Masters and conducted alongwith the number proposed and trained and
- Number of programmes proposed for Master Trainers and conducted alongwith the number proposed and trained.
- Percentage of funds utilized against total amount sanctioned and released
- Percentage of expenditure incurred on account of management and civil works (buildings, additional rooms, renovations etc.) to the total expenditure incurred
- Percentage of funds utilized on account of access, retention, quality, innovation, research, training etc. to the total sanctioned and released
- Positions filled and vacant posts at the State level: Directorate/SCERT/State Project Office/SIEMAT
- Position filled and vacant post at the District level: DEO office, DIET and District Project Offices
- Positions filled and vacant posts at Block and Custer levels: BEO, BRC and CRC Coordinators
- Positions filled and vacant posts in schools: Teachers, Para-teachers and Head Masters.