Objectives of the study:
To carry out door to door survey of the house holds in the villages and to assess the educational status of the population.
To understand the working of Panchayats/ PRIs in Madhya Pradesh, with focus on the role of the Panchayat level functionaries for promoting Education in the villages.
To understand the role of NGOs, if any, working in the identified area in promoting education in the villages
To asses the involvement influence of local leader(s) and authority structure in the management and delivery of education in the village(s).
To find out the nature and extent of participation of women and disadvantaged groups in the villages in the functioning of schools.
To study the perception of educational functionaries and beneficiaries towards Panchayati Raj Institutions in managing education in the villages.
To assess the change in education status of village due to entrusting education to Panchayati Raj Institutions.
To assess the financial and administrative linkages of schools in the villages with Panchayat and other government agencies.
To collate the suggestion of different interest groups for improving governance of education at grass-root level.
What is the socio-economic and cultural composition of the Panchayat members in office?
What roles are delegated by the state to the panchayat bodies in relation to education?
How the resources are allocated and channelized to Panchayats for educational development and also maintenance?
What is the level of understanding of the panchayat functionaries regarding EFA?
Whether the implementation of decentralized governance of education through Panchayati Raj Institution has sensitized local leaders including Panchayat members towards achieving EFA?
How do Panchayat level functionaries participate in EFA?
What is the priority given by the Panchayat for its educational responsibility?
Whether the new arrangement has positive effect towards motivating parents to impart education to their children?
What other governmental and non-governmental entities to be considered in mapping the networking of institutions horizontally and vertically?
What, how and when such relationships started?
What is the socio-cultural milieu of the Panchayat?
Whether the new arrangement is beneficial to disadvantaged group specially SC/ST, educationally backward communities and female population?
Whether the decentralized governance has increased resources and efficiency of their utilization in the educational sector?
Whether the new system has created increased/ adequate facilities in the schools?
What is the nature of perceptions held by women and marginalized sections about the functioning of schools under the Panchayat management?
Whether the new system has led to better school management at village level including punctually regularly of teacher, decrease in dropout rate, etc.
What is the nature of educational functionaries perceptions and behavior towards the changed situation in the management of education>
whether the new system enhanced the overall educational status of the village?
Whether the decentralized governance has improved networking, coordination and participation of various institution agencies and NGOs in promoting education in the villages?
Junapani, Bhaisadond and Sabadi panchayats of Multai block of Betul District of Madhya Pradesh were selected for in depth study based on house hold survey and contacting as many people as possible and also obtaining inputs from educational functionaires at village, Panchayat, Block and district levels.
Details of villages and Panchayats selected for study:
From Junapani Panchayat three villages namely Junapani, Human Behara and Khedi Bujurg were selected.
From Bhaisadond the three villages namely Bhaisadond, Malool Khapa and Buyal Khapa were selected.
From Sabadi, four villages namely Sabadi, Dongarpur, Bothalpathar and Sabadidhana were selected.
Household survey schedule
Village information schedule
Interview schedule for parents
School information schedule
Interview schedule for Principal/ Head Teacher
Interview schedule for Teacher
Interview schedule for inspector of School
Interview schedule for children
Schedule to get information of VEC profile
Interview schedule for VEC Member
Interview schedule for Sarpanch
Interview schedule for traditional Authority/ local leader
Interview schedule for BEO
Interview schedule for Block level Panchayat Samiti chairman
Interview schedule for Members of NGO
Interview schedule for BDO
Method of the study:
Issues, Problems and Recommendation
The issues, problems and recommendation that have emerged from the study of decentralized governance of education in villages in the three panchayats of Multai Block of Betul District of Madhya Pradhesh indicate the following:
1. The educational status of the villages in three panchayats of Multai Block in the Betul District of Madhya Pradesh indicates that the people belonging to these villages are mostly poor with low level of earning. They have to seasonally migrate for work and to earn their living as most of the land here is not cultivable. While the parents know the value of education, they are unable to afford them education, the availability of Government schools and the provision of free books. mid day meal and clothes etc have influenced the education of the children favorably.
2. The parents have expressed their dissatisfaction about the shortage and irregularity of teachers in the schools in the villages affecting the studies negatively. Similarly, children are unable to continue their studies if they are required to go to other villages due to distance and bad condition of the connecting approach walkways, specially during the rains due to flooding and water-logging on the way. The Panchayat members are required too be sensitized and educated as to how they can solve the problems by arranging resources and drawing up and implementing proper plans.
3. The constitution of Village Education Committees has been done only in a few villages flow level of education in the area all the Village Panchayats could have Village of education for Education Committees in all the villages which could draw proper plan of education for the children in the villages.
4.The education of children in the villages is linked to availability of proper roads connecting the villages. It will be appropriate to have proper interconnecting roads and provision of public transport so that the students could travel from one village to other village(s) for education. During the data collection stages the project people connected with the work have experienced the remoteness of these villages in the absence of public transport. The students are required to walk every day and to reach in time for being regular and punctual which is appreciated to be difficult.
5. The provision of hostels could be considered by the Panchayats for children of low income people who seasonally migrate in search of jobs and earning The provision of hostels will ensure continuity of education of their children
6. The constitution of village education committees in all the villages and their coordination at the block level could be desirable to draw up the educational plan for the area and implement as per the identified needs. While all the people desire good education for their children, they are only ensured to have education to the extent it is available in the village. A single village may not be able to bring qualitative change due to small size and lesser available resources, however. pooling of resources of the block and the participation of the people from different villages could bring the desirable change.
7. The Panchayat members. especially Village Education Committee members were ignorant about the resources available for education in the villages. A clear administrative and financial arrangement is needed to be created and the Panchayat members and VEC members needed to be made knowledgeable about the arrangement.
8. The participation of people in the affairs of school and the parents' teachers' interactions quite weak. The formal arrangement for participation of people and to encourage parents-teachers interaction is required to be created.
9. The people living in these villages are not fully aware about the arrangements created in the villages for decentralized governance including the management of education in the villages. Efforts need to be initiated to make them aware about the role, responsibilities and to derive benefits through participation.
10. In view of the fact that these villages are in-habitated by poor people who do not have enough resources and employment opportunities in the area and they are forced to migrate seasonally for supplementing their income, and as a consequence their children have to discontinue school, it is proposed to have hostel facility functional for the students belonging to such poor families. In case of seasonal migration of their parents the students will continue studies with the support of these hostels. It may be desirable to experiment with the concept in such inaccessible villages habituated by poor tribal people who are solely concerned with earning their livelihood and education of children becomes their lower priority due to paucity of resources.
11. The number of out of school children as well as the drop out rate is quite significant. This is mainly due to pre-occupation of parents to earn their livelihood and forced seasonal migration. The opportunities for work need to be created in the villages to increase earning of people, so that education of children actually gets higher priority by parents
12. The elected members of panchayat and VEC members are unable to perform their roles effectively and are required to be oriented and trained, especially in developmental planning and maintenance of financial resources.
13. There is no activity of any NGOs in these villages. The people are required to be sensitized and given required support for taking initiative and increase their participation in the affairs of the villages.
14. It was also felt that environment building is of immense importance in the context of educational development among tribal population .Community awareness and community mobilization, which is its core elements, should receive adequate importance and attention.
15. The number of teachers has been found to be inadequate in the schools located in these villages. The VECs have expressed their inability to appoint teachers, as this is being processed at block level. The problems need urgent attention to save wastage of time by children for the availability of teachers in the schools.
16. There is a complain by the Para teachers, guru ji about the dalay and reduced payment of the salary For this, the sarpanch of gram panchayat was made responsible for the payment of salary.
17. The students have been found to give respect to teachers and do not complain of their lack of punctuality;however the parents have brought the problem unambiguously. The parents are generally not satisfied with the performance of the teachers. The teachers are required to take corrective actions and it was suggested that school teachers should be supervised.
18. The provision of mid day meal is in place in all the schools however the meal is not provided to students in case the cook does not report for the duty There is no alternative arrangement in such a situation.
19. The schools do not provide satisfaction to parents in these villages in respect of seating arrangement, sanitation, availability of playground, toilets and drinking water, teachers performance and overall expectations from schools. However. the parents have faith in schools and wish to educate their wards. The situation needs to be improved through more active participation and efforts by VEC members.
20. The approach/link of school is affected during raining season and children from certain localities are unable to reach school due to bad condition of the link .In a few cases link is intercepted by water stream without safe arrangement to cross them over. While the problem is faced only by a part of population, however, the link between school and village(s) need to be constructed to ensure safe and convenient reach of children to school from all part of the village.
21. There is a immense feeling that the syllabus preparation needs local involvement and locally relevant material for tribal students, even the inclusion of local dialect in the syllabus could improve the quality of education.
22. Participation and decentralization share a symbiotic relationship. Some level of gap between people's expectation of their role in decision making and the real world situation may work as a propeller and impetus for greater decentralization but persistent large gaps could only alienate people from government and pave the way for large discontent.
23. Decentralization of education management is another aspect that needs special consideration in the context of tribal areas. In fact, considering the geographical terrain and communication problems in tribal areas, it is crucial to restructure the existing system of educational management. Adaptation of structures such as school complexes and VECs to tribal areas needs careful consideration.
While this study is focused on decentralized governance of education through Panchayati Raj Institutions, an overall view of the identified villages in conducting their affairs has been taken as education in the village need to be viewed in relation to life of the people and not in isolation.
The Village Education Committee s operates within the frame work of Gram Sabha and also avails resources and direction for managing affairs of education as per the norms and arrangements applicable to the PRIs. During the course of study, it has been felt that the people in the villages are struggling with poverty, ignorance and ill effects of social hierarchy and are unable to access the benefits of different schemes of the Government aimed at their socio-economic development. The main issues that concern the education and decentralized governance of education in the villages are related to:
1. Poverty and Poor Economic Condition of people
2. discrimination within village on caste and gender
3. Capacity of the people to manage the affairs of the Village
4. Resources for Managing demands in different sectors including education
In the absence of opportunities for earning livelihood, a part of population seasonally migrates to other places and there are times when there are only a few people in the villages. The employment opportunities and continued occupation of people is important for the village to function normally. This will also ensure the proper functioning of the Village Panchayats and its different committees including Village Education Committees.
While the people continue to struggle and getting displaced from time to time the Panchayats do not have sufficient resources to manage the affairs of the village. The villages are mostly able to maintain educational facilities till elementary level leaving the availability of further education to hard work and luck of the children themselves. There is need to create employment opportunities near the villages as also to provide sufficient resources for creating and strengthening the educational facilities, including the proper number of teachers so that it can take care of all the children in the area.
The participation of Panchayat members is further reduced depending on the caste/class configuration of Gram Sabha. The PRI act specifies reservations of seats to elected bodies at all the three tiers. However, the caste demarcation is manifested in various forms and is most pronounced at the village level. This obstructs meaningful participation by all members with a common cause. The members usually follow their group interests.
When a meeting was convened at Panchayat, the chairs were occupied by the higher caste people and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe people were made to sit on ground. as per the custom maintained in the village(s) for those who belong to the lower rung in the caste hierarchy The elected representatives also sit the ground and it was found that this the normal practice followed at gram Panchayat meetings. The people belonging to SC and ST categories are either not served tea during the meetings or they are expected to wash the tea cups themselves, if they are served the tea. The dominance of caste system and social hierarchy is visible in all the villages and thus the participation of the people is unequal. The members of village Panchayat opined that most of the decisions are taken by Sarpanch. The sarpanch is often found to emerge as the leader, undermining the decision making responsibilities) of other Panches or village Panchayat members. This may be attributed to social hierarchy, low level of awareness of other members and the fact that the Sarpanch is directly voted to power by the electorate
It may be proposed to have a Panchayat Bhawan and Gramsabha Bhawan in each of the panchayats and villages respectively with formal seating arrangement for the office bearers and other community members including invitees. This will ensure seating of role holders in their proper-place without consideration to caste and other discriminating factors operative in the village society.
The women participation in these Panchayats was also found to be lower than expected as per the 73rd Constitution amendment. The 73rd Amendment reserves one third of the total number of seats for women. The conversation with many female representatives across various sections on their role in the political process indicated that the women members are being sidelined, when decision are taken at the Gram Panchayat meetings. In the case of village Junapani an SC women representative sat at the farthest point, almost at the exit gate on the ground. The male elected representatives and the bureaucrats/government officials attribute women's non-participation in the Panchayat proceedings to their law level of education. While it is true that the education level of women is lower than that of men and the differences are not glaring, within particular caste groups. Discrimination based on gender, caste and education super-impose on one another, reducing the effectiveness with which women could participate at the GPs. What is noteworthy is that the women representative express willingness to context in the next round of elections, if reservation permits, indicating considerable changes in perceptions and attitudes.
The provision of proper infrastructure like roads and trans[port facilities are linked to education of children as have to go to other villages or urban center for further and higher education. The connectivity of villages is not only important for good functioning of the PRIs but also facilitating the education in the decentralized system of governance.
The capacity to manage the affairs of the village is an important area of concern or the success of PRIs and decentralized governance. The functionaries in the PRIs need to be given proper and adequate orientation and imparted proper skills to understand and solve problems with available resources. The functionaries should have fair idea about the responsibilities and enabling factors including financial and other resources to solve the problems of the village including quality education to their children.
The resources available to panchayats are needed to be defined in greater details so that the sources of funds are known to the VEC members so that they could take initiative for better education of the children.
On the basis of the present study, we are in agreement with the recommendation made in another study (Panchayati Raj Institutions and Their Working in Madhya Pradesh - IV) pertaining to the resources of the Panchayats for doing useful work. It has been observed that Relationship between these local governments and higher level governments is completely tilted toward the higher Governments. Although Madhya Pradesh Government has transferred many things related to most of these subjects and Madhya Pradesh Government has also performed well on devolution index but this devolution is mostly top down in nature. It makes Panchayats principal agency of implementation, monitoring but not the one who take decisions and decide for policies related to these subjects. Panchayats also lack capacity to have their own employees They are unable to pay even the salary of Shiksha Karmis who work under them on their own. Thus all this has left Panchayats as an agency providing implementation and delivery of programs decided at above and thus they remain limited as implementation agencies of State/Central Government rather than governments in themselves. The availability of resources is required to maintain the motivation of people to carry out the affairs of the people including the affairs of education in the village(s). The initiatives are required to be taken up by the central and the state governments for the empowerment of Panchayats in terms of resources, capacity building for planning and implementation of programmes. The involvement of youth, women and the people from lower strata of the society are needed to be increased. While the schemes for the empowerment of Panchayats have been initiated during the 11th Five Year Plan but for the want of adequate resources it did not make the desired impact. The new scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan (RGPSA) initiated in the 12th Five Year Plan could be of more assistance in this regard.
Implications of the study:
The study provide insights into the process of empowerment of grass roots level democratic institutions in taking charge of their civic responsibilities, especially in the area of universalisation of elementary education in their respective jurisdictions. The insights would lead to plan programmes of supporting the empowerment process by service organizations including NGOs.
The study provide a frame work for periodic assessment of educations status of the village (s) and requirement of resources for achieving next higher stage in providing quality education to the masses. The study is likely to provide suitable mechanism for improving educational status of disadvantaged group specially SC, ST educationally backward communities and girls.
Similar study at a larger scale shall also provide structural and administrative network and mechanisms for larger participation of community for achieving the objective of education for all as per the constitutional provision.
Keyword(s): Decentralized Governance, Elementary Education