Citizens' Issues
In 5 years, private schools gain 17 mn students, govt schools lose 13 mn
Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, student enrolment in government schools across 20 states fell by 13 million, while private schools acquired 17.5 million new students, according to a new study that offers insights into India's public-school education crisis.
 
Average enrolment in government schools -- where teachers are paid, on average, salaries that are four times those in China -- declined from 122 to 108 students per school over five years, while it rose from 202 to 208 in private schools, according to a research paper by Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, professor of education and international development at the Institute of Education, London.
 
Yet, 65 per cent of all school-going children in the 20 states, about 113 million, continue to get their education from government schools, according to District Information System for Education (DISE) and Ministry of Education data.
 
Why are students opting out of government schools, which educate the poorest and most vulnerable students until the age of 14 for free, and migrating to fee-charging private institutions in such large numbers?
 
The study, which uses DISE data, traced this student migration to the belief among parents that private schools offer better value for money and better teaching. Multiple evaluations after controlling for students' home backgrounds indicate that "children's learning levels in private schools are no worse than, and in many studies better than, those in government schools", said Gandhi.
 
Despite the Rs 1.16 lakh crore ($17.7 billion) spent on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) -- the national programme for universal elementary education -- the quality of learning declined between 2009 and 2014.
 
Less than one in five elementary school teachers are trained. In Delhi, capital city and its richest state, by per capita income, half of all government-school teachers are hired on temporary contracts. They are likely to be less motivated and accountable than teachers with full-time jobs.
 
The preference for private school education and the differences in learning outcomes of private and government schools vary between states. For instance, in 2015-16, in Uttar Pradesh, over 50 per cent of children studied in private schools, while in Bihar, less than four per cent of children attended private schools, according to DISE data.
 
In 2016, in Kerala, the proportion of children (aged 11-14) enrolled in government schools increased from 40.6 per cent in 2014 to 49.9 per cent. In Gujarat too, it increased, from 79.2 per cent in 2014 to 86 per cent, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016 data. ASER is a learning assessment of children in rural India.
 
In Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, government schools outperformed private schools in reading skills in local languages, once household and parental characteristics were controlled for, according to a state-wise analysis in ASER 2014.
 
In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where government schools were better than private schools to start with, learning outcomes improved between 2011 and 2014, once other factors were accounted for.
 
States with better-functioning government schools have more elite -- that is, more expensive -- private schools because there is no market here for the "low-fee" budget private schools that have been sprouting across the country, Gandhi's study said.
 
This explains why in poorer states, such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa, about 70 per cent to 85 per cent of children studying in private unaided schools pay less than Rs 500 per month as school fees. Up to 80 per cent of private schools are "low" fee schools when benchmarked against per capita and daily wagers' incomes, the data show.
 
In 2016, for the first time in 10 years, private-school enrolment did not increase in rural areas -- it fell from 30.8 per cent in 2014 to 30.5 per cent in 2016, according to the ASER 2016 report. But this has not stemmed the growth of private schools nationwide.
 
Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the number of private schools grew 35 per cent, while the number of government schools grew one per cent. Section 6 of the Right to Education Act 2009 legally obligates states to create more government schools.
 
The migration out of government schools has left many unviable, with high per-pupil expenditure, and low value-for-money from public education expenditure. About 24,000 government schools across Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh have closed, according to the study.
 
India's government teachers earn more than not just their counterparts in private schools but also in other countries, Gandhi's analysis shows.
 
Despite being paid at least four times the salaries of teachers in China (in terms of multiples of their respective per capita incomes), the performance of Indian teachers judged in terms of their students' learning levels, has been poor in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test in 2009, with India ranking 73rd and China ranking 2nd, among 74 countries.
 
Up to 80 per cent of India's public expenditure on education is spent on teachers -- salaries, training and learning material, according to a six-state report. Teacher salaries in of teachers in Uttar Pradesh are four to five times India's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and more than 15 times the state's, according to a 2013 analysis by Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze. This is much higher than the salaries paid to teachers in OECD countries and India's neighbours.
 
"This suggests the need to link future teacher salary increases to the degree of teachers' acceptance of greater accountability, rather than across-the board increases irrespective of performance or accountability," said Gandhi.
 
The private education sector offers salaries based on market factors of demand and supply, said Gandhi, and given that there is a 10.5 per cent graduate unemployment rate in India, jobless graduates are willing to settle for low salaries in private schools.
 
A common suggestion is increasing India's spending on education. In 2015-16, central government spending on school and higher education was less than other BRICS countries -- India spent three per cent of its GDP on education, compared to Russia (3.8 per cent), China (4.2 per cent), Brazil (5.2 per cent), and South Africa (6.9 per cent).
 
However, increased government spending in education is not enough to improve educational outcomes. Between 2006 and 2013, public expenditure on school education increased from 2.2 per cent to 2.68 per cent of GDP. The education policy must be thoroughly revised to put in place better accountability and monitoring mechanisms to exploit the gains of increase in fiscal outlays on education.
 
Public private partnership (PPP) model may be the solution, Gandhi argued, combining the best of both worlds-public sector funding and private resources for education.
 
Before choosing any particular form of educational PPP, India must study these different designs and their relevance/applicability/adaptability, and must also pilot test the chosen models before scaling up any novel intervention, Gandhi suggested in her paper.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

2 months ago

I can only give you the impression I have interacting with Zilla Parishad schools in Raigad district.
My aunt found the students way below their grade level competence. She started a privately funded program, using village women, to supplement the instruction students received in the ZP school.
Those who attended the extra-curricular program did great. Did the ZP teachers make common cause with the poorly paid tutors of this private, non-profit, program? No, of course not, not until the parents started pulling their kids put of ZP schools and putting them into private schools in the near by township of Neral, at the foothills of Matheran.

If the numbers in ZP school drop, the number of teachers sanctioned are reduced. So now the ZP school has woken up to the reality. But, it is still hard for the ZP teachers to accept that they are accountable to the village parents and not to the district officials. So, the fate of the ZP schools hangs in the balance over the years.
If ZP school teachers cannot accept that they need to fulfill the expectations of the local parents and not just the remote district officials, then the ZP schools are on their way out.

India's wholesale price inflation in March falls to 5.70% month-on-month
New Delhi, India's annual rate of inflation based on wholesale prices softened in March at 5.70 per cent after having risen to over a three-year high of 6.55 per cent in February, official data showed on Monday.
 
The wholesale price index (WPI) in March 2016, however, had declined to (-)0.45 per cent.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Take Heart, Mind the Mind
“Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my greatest friend is truth.” — Isaac Newton
 
The prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, published a good study on the heart status of aboriginals living in the Amazon forests in Bolivian territory. The aboriginals are the Tsaimane (pronounced chee-mah-nay). As in all our reductionist studies, did they measure the coronary calcium level as a surrogate marker of coronary artery disease (CAD) which, too, is not a true measure of CAD? Be that as it may, the Tsaimane tribe lived away from what we call civilisation and led a hunter-gatherer egalitarian life, untouched by the modern monetary economy with its accompanying Wall Street greed. These people are not supposed to get precocious heart attacks and premature death. Both inferences are, at the moment, only presumptions. 
 
The study’s authors claim that the Tsaimane eat hunter-gatherers’ diet of fruits, cereals, like rice and maize, and also fish, with occasional meat of monkeys, piranha and the large rodents they hunt. They walk a lot to get their food daily, the average being about 17,000 steps, in contrast to the Western prescription of 10,000 steps. They live together in large communes without the ‘I’ (illness concept) and, instead, live as ‘we’ (wellness concept). They do not have banks and money in circulation. They share what they get, with due consideration for everyone in the commune. In short, they have no negative thoughts of greed, pride, jealousy and one-upmanship; instead, they live as one large family.
 
As usual, in our reductionist cross-sectional research, we seem to miss the wood for the trees. See how the conventional pundits reacted to the findings. Tim Chico, consultant cardiologist and reader in cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, told The Independent that we shouldn’t “romanticise the Tsaimane existence,” adding that “two thirds of them suffer intestinal worms and they have a very hard life, without fresh water, sewerage or electricity.” We think it is a hard life; but the Tsaimane are very happy, indeed. Intestinal worms are supposed to increase immune strength. Another comment is still more romantic: “Surely, somewhere in the middle is the place to be. It’s up to each of us to find that healthy balance.” As I said above, we have missed the wood for the trees. The woods are beautiful, dark and deep and we shall miss the wood in this study.
 
Our evolution, and even our diseases, is environmental; they are not genetic or due to minor things like what we eat, how we eat it, where we live, our abdominal girth, weight, blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol and what have you. The so-called risk factors in our venerated risk factor hypothesis, in reality, do not have much effect on our illness or wellness. Non-availability of fresh water, sewerage and electricity are not risk factors either. These are all important in the 18th-century science of the Newtonian worldview which is reductionist. As the common saying goes, ‘it is not what you eat that kills as long as you do not overeat; it is what eats you that kills you’ i.e., your negative thoughts.
 
In the 21st-century quantum worldview, matter is made out of energy. In that context, the human body is just the holographic projection of our mind, the consciousness. Our mind is the canvas on which our thoughts are projected. Mind is not inside the brain. The real environment of our body is our mind. Therefore, it is the mind that determines why one is healthy at a given time or is ill at some other time. While food, exercise and water, etc, are important for good health, the kingpin in the game of our health and disease is our mind. If the Tsaimane tribe is healthier than us and has no heart disease, it is basically because the environment of their body (their mind) is happy, contented, and has no negative feelings. That hidden truth was missed by the researchers as they went in search of inconsequential details about their living.
 
An old study (published in 1987) of the Innu community, living in the islands off the coast of a Labrador town in Canada, titled “The Failure of Scientific Medicine: Davis Inlet as an Example of Socio-political Morbidity”,   graphically showed how the Innus, an aboriginal race that lived with no knowledge of the so-called civilisation and the monetary economy of mainland Canada, lived an egalitarian hunter-gatherer existence without sewerage, electricity and clean water, but with profound happiness, caring and sharing what they hunted and gained. They lived happily like a large single family. Their records on stone and leaves showed that their only causes of death were old age and predation. 
 
They were not heir to any illness that the civilised world suffered from, up until 1732 when, for the first time, a barter company from mainland Canada, The Hudson’s Bay Company, set up a shop in Innu land, starting the barter economy, which soon led to the monetary economy. And, in course of time, Innus became citizens of mainland Canada. Now, Innus are heir to every disease that Caucasian Canadians are heir to—from the common cold to cancer 10 years earlier compared to Caucasian—Canadians. What changed for the Innus was the introduction of the monetary economy with all its attendant ills. William Wordsworth was right in 1802 when he wrote:
 
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
 
The essence of the wisdom in these two studies, somewhat similar in character, is the same. When you sell your soul to the Devil, you get heart attacks more frequently. 
 
The Tsaimanes and Innus had their hearts with them and they had not sold their hearts to the Devil of the monetary economy. It is not what they ate or what they did that mattered as much as what ate them (their negative thoughts resulting from monetary greed). Our Western medical science can only answer ‘how’ one gets a disease. Our positive sciences cannot answer the question why one gets a disease, at a given time. So spake Nobel Laureate Charles Sherrington, in 1895, at the age of 38, in his acceptance speech after he was appointed professor of physiology at Liverpool University.
 
Let us not get lost in the Newtonian worldview of the 18th century. The quantum worldview allows us to comprehend much more than what we can grasp with our five senses. It helps us understand that the real environment of disease is the human mind. If we can mind our mind, we can mend most diseases without outside intervention. Healing, finally, is due to our own in-built immune system. Long live mankind on this planet! Note that knowledge advances not by repeating known things (as was done by the researchers in this Bolivian study), but by refuting false dogmas. Reductionist science in human affairs must give place to holistic science.
 

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COMMENTS

Anbalagan Veerappan

2 months ago

Meditation or Dhyanam is the brain exercise for better Mind!

S.S.A.Zaidi

2 months ago

What an article! Very informative indeed

Rahul Pande

2 months ago

Old is gold.Our vedic thoughts and practises need to be reintroduced .

Bharath Kumar Ramesh

2 months ago

Wonderful Article sir. ' ve listened to the TED talk as well. Current generation is focussed on I,me,myself so more illness

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