Key Recommendations For the Education Sector
1) In order to scale up primary education services in rural UP and MP, additional public spending of Rs.161 per capita is needed for UP and Rs.65 per capita for MP. Thus, scaling up of primary education in rural MP and UP on a per capita basis amounts to increasing the budget allocation by 8 percent in MP and 21 percent in UP.
2) MP needs to focus more on two key aspects. One: to get into school all the children, girls and boys, from such communities as the Scheduled Caste (communities who are depressed) and Scheduled Tribe (aboriginal communities living remotely and outside of the Indian caste system). Two: to strive harder to attain and sustain higher levels of quality in their primary schools. While the former may require measures, such as higher levels of financial incentives for poor parents to send their children to school, improved quality and quantity of the mid-day meals being provided, and wide-ranging awareness programs, the latter may require drastic changes in the learning methods and techniques, making classroom activities more experimental and enjoyable for the children, improved teacher training, and of course upgrading the school infrastructure. By contrast, UP needs to focus more on construction of more schools (25,426 additional schools are needed per our calculations) and hiring more teachers, (314,839 additional teachers are needed per our calculations) areas where MP seems to have achieved a fair bit. Of course, UP too needs to attain higher enrollment levels and improve the quality of teaching.
3) The syllabus and contents of the textbooks used in Mathematics, English and Environment studies in UP need serious modifications and improvements in style, relevance and simplification. In MP, the textbooks on Environmental studies need to introduce General Science more intensely than what is done presently. Like MP, English should be formally introduced from Standard I in UP also.
4) With regard to grass-roots units of self-government, known as Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), and their ability to deliver, the following questions need to be looked into: Has the power and authority that has been devolved to the PRIs actually reached the people? Do they understand their duties/responsibilities on the one hand and their authority on the other? Do the PRIs have the capacity to manage schools? Are there regular (on an on-going basis) and comprehensive capacity building programs in place? And are any measures being undertaken to ensure that the caste and patriarchy do not prejudice effective management at the local level?