0bjectives of the study:
To understand the role of Panchayat Raj bodies in primary education in villages.
To study and assess devolution of power to Gram Panchayats and Taluk Panchayat in the area of primary and secondary education.
To understand and assess the gap, if any, between the objectives of national national and state educational policies and the perception of Panchayat Raj functionaries in the context of education for all (EFA).
Mapping of network of village level agencies and NGOs in the functioning of educational institutions.
Assessment of the impact of schemes introduced by the state government to prevent dropouts and to increase the enrollment of students and the extent of involvement of Panchayat Raj bodies in these schemes.
To understand the conflict of interests, if any, between elected members of PRIs and the local level educational functionaries and the nature of such conflicts.
To study the impact of decentralization in the context of education on the disadvantaged groups.
The study attempts to answer the following research questions:
What are the powers and functions of Panchayat bodies in relation to primary education?
Through what mechanisms the devolution of powers with regard to education is being realized?
To what extend have the new initiatives to involve panchayat bodies in primary education been effective?
What is the nature of relationship between educational functionaries and members of panchayats?
What is the perception of parents about the involvement of panchayats in school management?
What is the perception of teacher about the role of panchayats in education?
What is the perception of marginalized sections about the functioning of schools under the panchayat management?
The data were collected from
20 schools from two districts
83 SDMC members
16 SDMC grama panchayat members
12 SDMC anganavadi teachers
20 HM teachers
7 Grama Panchayat Secretaries
12 Community members and
SDMC meeting proceedings, enrollment in schools.
Tools of the study:
The study involves developing a socio-economic profile of each panchayat under study. Information generated through household survey and the opinion of other leading actors in the primary education will be optimal and not exhaustive. The information about the dynamics of decision making and those who are affected by it- mainly the parents and teachers will be collected through unstructured interviews and non-participant observation. Observation of any other related significant incidents will be recorded in the field rates by the investigator.
Since the study emphasizes the process, the data needed for the study will be primarily qualitative to be supplemented by quantitative data. Therefore the design followed will be similar to case study.
Data on the functioning of SDMCs was collected through survey, focus group discussions and extended consultation with the government functionaries. The study involved an elaborate data collection- through primary and secondary data sources. The study adopted primary survey of twenty schools, focus group discussion with government functionaries in eight blocks, the observations, case studies and the extended consultation with state level officers. On the basis of the analysis of the data- survey, reports and contextual comments- the following conclusions can be drawn. The following section focus on the findings & analysis under each of the objectives of the study.
Data on the general facilities, community organizations and educational facilities in the selected sample villages was collected, analyzed and some of the broad findings drawn are:
100% (20 schools) of the villages reported that they have Anganawadi facilities. It was observed that preschool facilities in the village have not been working in conjunction with the primary schools. This needs to be taken care of.
70% (14 schools) of the villages have community organizations like self-help groups, Dalit Sanghas, farmers' organizations etc. There is scope for the involvement of self-help groups like Stree Shakti, run by women members, in school activities at various levels.
During the field study it was also observed that the youth clubs have shown keen interest in the development of the school. Mobilization of local youth for school activities can add value as an advocacy tool.
Only 10% (02 schools) of the villages reported that education related issues are discussed at the Gram Sabha.
Role of Voluntary Organization in Primary Education:
The young too can play an effective part in schooling. Take for example, Vivekananda Yuvaka Sangha at Bennehally in Davanagere district. It has adopted the HPS and encourages learning and sports by giving prizes to those who excel in exams and competitions. Similarly, the Madakari Nayaka Youth Organization has joined hands with the SDMC to develop the LPS at Rangayyana Durga Kaval (R.D.Kaval). In-fact one of the members of this organization has allowed the school to use a portion of his house as there is an acute shortage of accomodation. A youth organization has constructed one classroom for the GLPS at Adavihalli in Davanagere district.
40 % (08 schools) of the schools reported that the CRCs are located at a distance of more than 7 km. This means that CRCs, the lowest unit of Academic Support in the structure of school education, are not in a position to interact more frequently with the schools.
The following findings are drawn from the analysis of information on facilities within the school:
Nearly 80% (16 schools) of the sample schools have their own buildings. It was observed during the field study that many school buildings are not constructed properly and are not usable in all weather conditions. 20% (04 schools) of the schools have only one Head Teacher’s room and one office room. The condition of schools functioning in rented premises is far below the standards. There is an urgent need to monitor school structures with regard to number of classrooms, Head Teacher’s room, office, child friendly structures, the quality of construction etc. based on norms and specifications.
Most of the schools still do not have basic teaching-learning materials like blackboards, charts and maps as per the norms. There is a need to look into this matter case by case in each cluster.
A number of schools still lack library facilities, and those with libraries (20%) reported that they were hardly used. This clearly shows that the schools are lagging behind in making optimal using use of this facility. This impacts learning levels. The SDMCs need to pay attention to development of libraries, motivating teachers and children to make full use of them.
Despite increased emphasis on toilet facilities there are still many schools without toilet facilities. 40% of the students reported that a separate toilet facility for girls is available in the school. But toilets in many schools there is no water facility. Mere availability of a facility may not mean much unless it is a functional and maintained properly. 50% of the schools have a public water tap in the school and 30% reported that they fetch water from outside, thus indicating that children are made to do odd jobs.
It is widely accepted that sports provide children with opportunities to explore/ experience and interact with the physical and social surroundings. Sports also inculcates team work and leadership qualities, etc. Even in minimum level of learning, the importance on non-cognitive learning has been emphasized. But only around 20% of the schools reported that they have facilities for indoor and outdoor sports. This implies that children are denied opportunities for non-cognitive learning to that extent.
It is a government norm that every school in the state shall function at least 220 days a year. But, there are some schools which have worked for less than 200 days. While it is the duty of Head.
Fresh air to freshen the mind:
The Higher Primary School of Kenchikere and Thavaragundi in Harapanahali block have a beautiful garden of plants and tress each protected by a compound wall. “This has enabled the children to develop environmental consciousness”, says the President of the SDMC. “This has improved the health of children thereby bringing about a positive change in their academic achievements”, says the Head Teacher.
How to ensure that schools actually work for 220 days a year as per government norm? Non compliance of such a norm is because teachers of these schools may be attending to other official duties. This, in-fact, was the main government that are not related to teaching. They are assigned many other works by the government that are not related to teaching. SDMCs do not play effective role in this regard because of two reasons:
Members are not aware of this norm, and
They are not aware that this is one of their duties.
Available of literature on SDMCs:
40% (08 schools) of the schools reported that they do not have SDMC circulars and more than 60% reported that they do not have SDMC circulars and more than 60% reported that they do not possess other related literature. Equity in dissemination of information plays a crucial role in ensuring clarity of any process.
Constitution and composition of SDMCs:
There are still some schools which have not constituted SDMCs . The monitoring mechanism thus seems to be ineffective in documenting non-formation of SDMCs and in taking further action. The findings of the survey contradict the opinions of functionaries on the constitution of SDMCs. While the survey data shows that 10% (02 schools) of the schools are still without SDMCs, the functionaries from cluster to block said that all the schools coming under their jurisdiction have formed SDMCs.
The circular clearly states that one student from either Class 7 or Class 10 shall be nominated as a member Contradictory to the circular, 40% of the student representatives who were interviewed are from Class 4 or 5. This highlights the need for student representation from lower primary schools in SDMCs.
The findings clearly show that there is low representation of girls as student representatives in SDMCs 48% of the student representatives who were interviewed were boys.
Action is required to encourage girl students to take part in the SDMC activities. There is also a need for proper representation of SC/ST communities.
Participation at the highest level
In the Government Higher Primary School of Talikatte in the Holalkere block of Chitradurga district, the SDMC activities impressed upon the local youth to construct two classrooms for the school. The SDMC President has contributed Rs 2000 and local donor Sri. Sangappa has contributed Rs 4,000 to undertake developmental activities.
The unique feature of this SDMC is that it is mandatory for the parents (other than SDMC members) to attend all the meetings. The SDMC proceedings are conducted in their presence.
It was observed that there is a need to have representation from both LPS and HPS in the case of combined schools to ensure fair representation.
The findings show that the parents of 45% of the student representatives were SDMC members, and there is a possibility that children of SDMC members are more likely to become student representatives. In this connection, it is important to specify criteria for selection of student representatives Since SDMCs are supposed to ensure regular attendance and improve learning levels, regular attendance and high achievement could serve as the criteria.
Socio-economic status of SDMC members:
As against the general perception of SDMC Presidents being illiterate, it was found that 90% of them are literate. During the field study, it was observed that illiterate members are as effective as literate members and educational qualifications, therefore, cannot serve as a basis for selection of members.
90% (18 schools) of the SDMC Presidents are male. The majority of the teaching staff at the primary level consists of women and most of the women head teachers complained that they have not been able to function effectively because the President is male. At present, the SDMC has given the power of sanctioning leave and restricted holiday to the President, and the Head Teachers complained that since Presidents are not regularly they face difficulties in getting their consent for leave. Therefore, the study concludes that a post of Vice President should be created and powers related to sanctioning of leave also may be shared with the Vice- President.
Committed to a brighter future:
Children are natural learners. Once their basic needs are taken care of, they enjoy learning as much as they enjoy playing With benevolent guidance they proceed naturally to compete and excel. The SDMCs have not lagged behind in providing the necessary academic support wherever it was lacking For example, at GHPS Chegatari in (Harapanahalli block. Davanagere Dist), the SDMC has taken the initiative to appoint part-time teachers to overcome the shortage of teaching staff and to facilitate the teaching process in the classroom. The SDMC has donated Rs. 14,000 to the school for furniture and TLM.
It is clear from the findings that the majority of members and students are from the agricultural community t has been observed that lack of attendance is mostly due to children being drawn into the occupation of their families, especially agriculture And in most cases the seasonal variations in the occupational activities in which the children are involved do not coincide with the vacations declared by the Department Children may be unable to attend school regularly either due to their involvement in agriculture or because the family migrates to a different place To avoid such situations the vacation and school timings should be locale specific and decision-making in this regard should be left to the SDMCs.
There is a discrepancy between statements made in the focus group discussion and those in the survey. The field functionaries asserted that all the schools in their jurisdiction had SDMCs. But the survey showed that 10% of the schools are yet to form SDMCs. Therefore, there is a need to impress upon the concerned CRPs and Educational Coordinators that every school within their area should form a SDMC within the time frame stipulated in the circular.
Awareness of SDMC constitution, composition, tenure and meetings:
The norms governing the composition of SDMCs seem to be unclear to the schools, especially to the Head Teachers who are supposed to form the SDMCs. There is a need to provide clarity on formation, tenure and composition of SDMCs to all the Head Teachers and teachers.
There is a need to orient all the parents on SDMC formation, tenure and on process-related issues preceding the formation of SDMCs.
The procedure for selection of the President has not been uniform and the current Presidents as well as the members are not aware of the procedure.
It was observed during the field study and during the focus group discussions that many of the Presidents are not natural guardians of children studying in the same schools. This may be because of lack of information or because of lack of responsibility on the part of the Head Teachers. This needs special attention and the Head Teachers should be warned about it.
The Presidents and members are not aware of the exact composition of SDMCs. The members are not aware of the categories to which they belong There is a need to orient all the members before the SDMC is constituted.
The Head Teacher has not disseminated information regarding the process of formation of SDMCs As a result, in many cases the members are not aware of their tenure, the frequency of meetings etc.
Awareness of objectives, powers and duties of SDMCs:
Overall objectives like taking care of the school and discussing school related issues seem to be known to most of the Presidents and women members. But the objectives related to finance are less widely known.
The issues related to 'learning improvements' are not mentioned in the objectives This has led to many members not focusing on learning.
At the Higher Primary School in It Hireyammiganuru of Holalkere block (Chitradurga district), the parents have joined hands with the teachers to organize the supply of mid-day meals to the school children for three months. Mrs Mahadevi, a parent, voluntarily cooks and serves food to the children without accepting an honorarium. The SDMC has also identified donors who have donated generously for school development. The President has contributed Rs. 4,000/- for school development activities.
There is wide variation in members' level of awareness regarding SDMC objectives, powers and functions as laid down in the circular. This is due to lack of training and lack of dissemination of information.
It is interesting to note that 75% of the Presidents attend the monthly meetings 30 to 40% of nominated, ex-official members attend the meetings regularly. Attendance has to be made mandatory for all members to ensure effective functioning of SDMCs.
It was observed that the reasons for non-participation in the meetings were unsuitable timings (since most of the members are in the agricultural sector and are daily wagers) and lack of intimation about the meetings. This has led to lack of continuity in participation in SDMCs.
Many of the student representatives are not aware of the meetings either because they are not informed or because they have their classes at the time of the meeting There is a need to take into consideration the availability of student representatives to ensure their participation in the meeting.
There is no 'tole clarity' among the student members. And most of the time students are assigned odd jobs (like bringing tea, coffee during the meetings, being sent to call the members etc) and are not confident enough to discuss their problems There is a need to focus on this issue.
Perception of government functionaries on the functioning of SDMCs:
According to the block-level functionaries all the schools in their jurisdiction have formed SDMCs. However, the survey findings show that there are still many schools which have not constituted SDMCs There is need to strengthen information system mechanism to ensure formation of SDMCs in all the schools.
Five out of eight block-level officers stated that SDMCs are functioning well and all of them felt that SDMCs should continue to work. Though there is a perception that SDMCs are gradually getting into party politics, the functionaries felt that SDMCs have a positive impact on school development.
Most of the functionaries at block and cluster level felt that SDMC Presidents should be made accountable for financial misappropriation. However, the study feels that the Head Teacher being an educated person can bring cases of misappropriation to the notice of the committee and take suitable action with the permission of the committee.
Most of the functionaries also felt that a minimum qualification has to be specified for the members. Since the data show that even illiterate members have led the SDMCs successfully, this suggestion may have lesser significance.
Perception and participation of Head Teachers and teachers:
Head Teachers expressed their dissatisfaction with the joint account holding. However, SDMCs were given financial powers with the purpose of making both the school and the community accountable for the flow of funds and to ensure transparency of the process This process may be continued to empower the SDMCs.
In Lower Primary School it was found that most of the Head Teachers are women. Many of them complained that the powers given to the Presidents to sanction leave have caused inconvenience This implies that there is a need to have an alternative arrangement to address this problem.
Head Teachers complain that SDMC members do not attend the meetings regularly. This implies that mere formation of SDMCs is not sufficient to ensure school development and monitoring of its functioning. It is active participation and involvement that have an impact on school development as a whole.
Not many teachers explicitly appreciate the performance of the SDMCs. When the data on reasons for their dissatisfaction was collected, it was found that the teachers are not involved in the functioning of SDMCs This creates an unhealthy atmosphere in the teacher community at large. There is a need to enlist the involvement of teachers for the following reasons.
Teachers are involved in the day-to-day school activities of the children and constantly interact with the parents.
They are also involved in the Child Census and therefore are aware of the ground realities.
‘Quality improvement' is one of the main objectives of the SDMC and therefore it is essential to include all the teachers in the SDMCs so that they can be partners in designing the activities related to ‘learning improvements'.
It has been observed that in many schools, teachers are not aware of the happenings in the SDMC and therefore, they feel that they have been alienated from the SDMC, activities despite their physical presence in the school
In Davanagere, the teachers of the GPS in the Dalit Basti were aware of the play of caste and class factors in determining facilities for the schools. They were unequivocal in stating that the school in the main village stand to gain by being in the proximity of the high schools as well as having a majority of children from the dominant Backward Class social group of the village. Consequently, their school committee is stronger, and therefore able to lobby for more benefits, better infrastructure, space, etc. This view was expressed during the discussions with the community in the SC colony as well
Perceptions of stakeholders other than the SDMC core committee, parents, students and the community:
Not all the parents are aware of the existence of SDMCs. This has resulted in poor participation of the parents in the General Body meetings There is a need to communicate information regarding the existence of SDMCs through their wards and the teachers in the SDMC.
A very small percentage of parents said that SDMCs have an impact on learning process. This makes it necessary to add learning' as one of the objectives of SDMCs.
The school timings and the long vacations do not suit children from agricultural families. Therefore, there is a need to rethink on this issue and the timings vacations of schools have to be redesigned to suit the needs of such children.
The state government provides many incentives like free text books uniforms and TLM. The findings show that not many children are availing of these facilities. The children are either not aware of the facilities that are provided by the state free of cost or there is need to re examine the distribution mechanism. In both the cases the SDMC can play an important role 45% of children reported that they do not want to be punished in school. Punishment has an adverse effect on attendance, learning and personality development. There is a need to evolve innovative methods like counseling to tackle these issues.
68% of the community members are fully satisfied with the present functioning of SDMCs. The SDMC being a novel experiment in community participation, it has made a good beginning in that direction.
The community did not perceive a significant role for itself in the education of their children. Parents almost never talked to teachers about their children's education. None of the stakeholders had much understanding of the meaning of 'quality with respect to education.
Perception and participation of Panchayat Raj Members:
School related issues are apparently not discussed in any of the village forums, whether it is the Grama Panchayat and Grama Sabha or Ward Sabha.
Most of the Panchayat members do not attend the SDMC meeting regularly and this is not surprising given that the children of the most of the members attend private schools. In this year for example Hireyemmiganuru School in Holalkere Taluk the SDMC meeting was held only once to give approval for auctioning of trees inside the school campus, which fell during the storm.
Perceptions on effective functioning
Most of the SDMCs have prioritized civil works and have made contributions towards such works.
Not many members have taken any specific measures regarding the improvement of 'learning levels of the children in the schools'.
It was observed that frequent visits to schools by SDMC members have resulted in mutual support and constant monitoring of school development.
Communities need to be convinced that the state is only a 'facilitator' and it is up to them to 'own' the school. Unless the 'ownership' is there, the UEE may remain a distant goal.
A clear-cut goal
The SDMC has a clear cut goal for the Higher Primary School at Chegatari Harapanahalli block, in Davanagere district and Kelaginakottige in Holalkere block, in Chitradurga district: make it a model school. The SDMC, established in 2001, can boast of the following achievements.
Construction of toilets
Digging of well to provide drinking water
Creating a playground by shrama dana (voluntary service)
Construction of classrooms
Supplying chairs, benches and tables
Helping the teachers to live nearby
Providing required pulses, food grains, fuel (LPG) and Vegetables to serve a nutritious Mid-day Meal. But the SDMC is not resting on its laurels. It wants to do more. Like…
Fix a pump set to the well.
Construct an open-air theater.
Build a school compound wall.
What about the learning achievements of children? Enrollment has increased and attendance sustained. The community is happy with the SDMC and the teachers.
Keyword(s): Decentralization, Primary Education