There is no linkage between decentralisation of school governance and quality inclusive education, reveals a recent study

Inequity and very low per capita expenditure on teachers are the major reasons behind the crisis faced by school education currently, two recently released study reports have identified. They have further pointed out that it is the combination of a good head teacher and a good team of teachers that is the ultimate formula of a well-managed, sensitive and engaged school.

The two studies on school management and teacher cadre management, conducted by non-government outfit Save the Children, have looked into how schools can be made better and how the quality of teachers needs to be treated as a serious issue.

The study on ‘School Management for Quality Inclusive Education’ reveals that although there is some improvement towards making schools more inclusive, there is was no substantive evidence of linkages between different levels/layers of decentralisation and how it facilitates quality inclusive education.

Making a difference

The most important aspect that the study highlighted was that even where the overall education mechanism does not provide for true decentralisation, a motivated and highly committed head of the school can and does make a big difference.

No academic support

According to Prof. R. Govinda, Vice-Chancellor of National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), Delhi: “The study has highlighted that while school level committees have been created in almost all the States, they are involved mainly in supervision of civil works, mid-day meals, monitoring enrolment and attendance of children, mobilising resources for school supplies to the study; committees in a few States also monitor the attendance and regularity of teachers but they are not involved in academic monitoring or providing academic support to schools.”

He added that the study has shown that the biggest crisis facing school education in India is inequity. “Like the caste system, we have divided schools into so many layers that it is affecting quality of education in a big way. Exclusive zones don’t really create quality. A very low per capita expenditure on teachers is another major concern that is yet to be addressed.”

“Sense of ownership”

Save the Children’s director of programmes, Latha Caleb, said: “There is a need to build mechanisms to synergise collective sense of ownership of a school besides increased decentralised community mobilisation efforts to improve enrolment. We must prioritise quality inclusive education as a desired outcome of decentralised school governance.”

The study has highlighted that the pro-active involvement of community and a highly motivated head master could bring a change in the education system.

The literature also points to the need for synergy between all three — head master, parents and community and the panchayat or the local self governance institutions. Where the three came together, the school governance improved.

The studies were published under the European Union funded project “Exchange of International Best Practices Leading to Innovation in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan”.