Problems and Purpose
During the early 2000s, the Department of School Education & Literacy (D/o SE&L) in India prepared the core scope document that focused on the delivery of education as service using Information & Technology (IT) platform. In the process of core scope document preparation, active participation of all stakeholders was ensured and as a result, a holistic and qualitative model for the delivery of education as service in the form of the core scope document came out. The implementation of the objectives enunciated in the core scope document is expected to improve the system of educational administration and the quality of school education in country.
The Apex Committee of National E-Governance Project (NeGP) in India, responsible for its implementation, in 2011 decided to include four additional initiatives in the foliage of Mission Mode Projects (MMPs). Along with the Education other additional initiatives that were included were the Health, the Postal, and the Public Distribution System (PDS). The Department of School Education & Literacy (D/o SE&L), Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India was responsible for preparing a Core Scope Document that focused on the “Delivery of Education as Service” on anytime and anywhere basis using Information & Technology (IT) platform to all the stakeholders ranging from the State Government, school administration, teachers, parents, and most importantly to the students. The Core Scope Document was intended to serve as policy document in so far as MMP in School Education was concerned. D/o SE&L diligently started the process of the Core Scope Document preparation ensuring the consultation and active participation of all the stakeholders on board. As a result of the consultative and participative process, a holistic and qualitative model for the delivery of education as service in the form of the Core Scope Document came out. The implementation of the objectives enunciated in the Core Scope Document is expected to ensure the paradigm shift in the School Education system in India. This will not only improve the entire system of educational administration, but will also improve the quality of education.
Background History and Context
In the Constitution of India, education has been placed as the concurrent subject where both the Central and State Governments can legislate and make the rules. At the Central Government level, the Department of School Education & Literacy in the Ministry of Human Resource Development is responsible for school education whereas in the State Government, mostly the Department of Education is responsible. The landscape of the School Education system in India is also very vast. It consists of more than 1.42 million schools, 25.66 million students, and 0.83 million teachers for all the levels of School Education via primary, secondary and higher secondary education.
The National e-Governance Project (NeGP) was approved by the Government of India in May, 2006 with the aim to deliver the services to the public electronically. When launched, the NeGP comprised of 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs). A well-defined structure was created for the implementation of NeGP. The Apex Committee of NeGP headed by the Cabinet Secretary monitors the implementation of the NeGP periodically, provides the policy direction if needed, and resolves the inter-ministerial/ inter-departmental issues encountered during the implementation of the NeGP. Considering the significant progress made by NeGP, the Apex Committee, in its meeting held on July, 2011 decided to include four new Government initiatives Education, Health, Postal, and Public Distribution System (PDS) in the folio of NeGP thus increasing the number of MMPs up to 31. The Department of School Education & Literacy (DoSE&L), Ministry of Human Resource Development was designated as the Nodal Department for implementing the MMP in School Education in the country. The first and the foremost task for the DoSE&L was to come up with a Core Scope Document that incorporates the need and demand of all the stakeholders in the Education System and promise to deliver education as service. After due deliberation, DoSE&L in November, 2011 decided to engage National Institute of Smart Governance (NISG) as consultant to sail through the process of Core Scope Document preparation.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
There are several agencies dealing with the school education both at national and state levels, such as National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT), National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), and Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), among others, at the national level and State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT), State Education Boards, Education Directorates, at the state level. There are several flagship schemes that have been either fully or partially funded by the Central Government but implemented by the State Government, including for example, Mid-Day Meal (MDM). Additionally State Governments have their own schemes like Scholarship to the Children. Several Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based initiatives in the schools have also been initiated by the Central Government (e.g. ICT @ School), State Government (e.g. Child Tracking System), and non-governmental and private organizations. With such a wide landscape of School Education system in India having multitude of stakeholders, large number of schemes, and variety of ICT based initiatives already under implementation phase, a focused initiative from the Central Government was needed. For arriving at the consolidated document for MMP in School Education, consultation and participation of all the stakeholders at national as well as state level was substantial.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Considering the facts such as multiplicity of stakeholders involved, education being both central and state subject, and large number of diverse educational initiatives already undertaken at both central and state levels, preparation of a Core Scope Document incorporating the needs of all was a challenging task. The DoSE&L asked NISG to carry out detailed assessment study of principle constituent of School Education system in India. The principle constituents involved in the School Education were identified as various state governments, central agencies, NGOs, and private organizations.
To obtain the raw inputs from the all the principal constituent for the formulation of Core Scope Document for MMP in School Education, DoSE&L decided to conduct three Regional Workshops (for southern, eastern and western region at Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Chandigarh respectively) and a National Workshop (at Delhi). In these workshops, participation from all levels of School Education Department via. Secretaries, Directors, District Education Officers, Central Agencies, and Non-Governmental Organizations, and Private Organizations, among others was ensured. It was further decided to carry out additional field visits of the three States (states selected were Kerala, Gujarat and Bihar) to collect the information about the challenges faced by the stakeholders in ICT implementation already taking place in these States, and potential usages of ICT based solution. The Non-Governmental Organizations identified for participation in Core Scope Document preparation were ASER Center, Pratham Foundation, New Delhi, Centre for Civil Society, New Delhi, Akshara Foundation, Bangalore, and UNICEF in India. The Private Organizations identified were Eduvisors Research and Consulting, Gurgaon, Edutor Technologies, Hyderabad and INTEL @ School. It was also decided to involve the officials of the State Governments and Central Agencies again in the National Workshop held at Delhi, to finalize the core focus areas and the potential services of MMP in School Education.
Methods and Tools Used
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Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction
The deliberation and participation process for preparation of Core Scope Document started with regional workshop on Mission Mode Project in School Education. The highlights of the participatory process are the following:
In the workshop for southern states of India held on April 19, 2012 in Hyderabad, about 55 government officials from the different states (Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Lakshadweep (UT), Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh) participated. In the participatory exercise conducted, participants were divided into groups and asked to answer two questions (i) key challenges that they faced as administrators managing school education, and (ii) key changes they envisaged would help better learning. The participants deliberated in the group and noted down their thoughts on the charts. The NISG was acting as the facilitator during the deliberation by the groups. The ideas generated were gathered and taken as input for further course of action.
In the workshop, the second participatory session focused on the ‘role-play’ exercise. The participants present were asked to role-play various stakeholders in school education system like students, teachers, parents, administrators, regulators, and school managers and highlight their key expectations and information they needed. The ‘role-play’ exercise led to an excellent insights about expectations of various stakeholders.
During the workshop, the officials of the various State Governments presented the non-ICT & ICT based initiatives in their States and expressed the expectation of the services to be included in the Core Scope Document.
A NGO called ‘Akshara Foundation’ showed the efforts made by them to provide online libraries to the children. The NGO called ‘Centre for Good Governance’ demonstrated the e-Hostel application for the management of Hostels. Another NGO known as ‘A.P. Social Welfare Residential Schools Education Society’ demonstrated the School Academic Monitoring System to monitor the performance of residential schools.
In the second regional workshop held on May 24, 2012 in Kolkata about 50 officials from various states of the eastern region (West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya and Andaman and Nicobar Islands) participated. The regional workshop started with the presentation by various states which showcased the innovative steps taken by them for IT/ ICT based delivery of education and services in their states.
In the participatory exercise, all the participants were divided in 6-7 groups and asked to discuss and note down their thoughts on the following two questions across the five dimensions: Student learning, Teacher support, School governance, Regulations and Community engagement. The questions were (i) Challenges and issues they see in their day-to-day experience and (ii) Measurement if their solutions are working on the ground level. The NISG acted as facilitator during the participatory exercise. The thoughts/ inputs noted by the participants were taken as input for the Core Scope Document of MMP in School Education.
In the third regional workshop held on June 11, 2012 in Chandigarh, about 94 officials participated from the western region (Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli). In addition, representatives from National e-Governance Division (NeGD) of Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY), NIOS, KVS and NCERT also participated.
While informing the participants about the importance of the participation exercise because its outputs to be used as inputs for Core Scope Document for the School Education MMP, they were divided into groups and asked to discuss the questions similar to the Second Regional Workshop (i) Challenges and issues they see in their day-to-day experience and (ii) Measurement if their solutions are working on the ground level. The participants were asked to answer these two questions across the four dimensions viz. Student learning, Teacher support, School management, and Governance/Regulations. The workshop was facilitated by the NISG. After the discussion, each group shared their thoughts to all other groups through a representative of the group. The thoughts of each groups were taken as input for the Core Scope Document of MMP in School Education.
During the workshop, there were presentations on ICT initiatives in school education from the representatives of KVS, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.
The discussion and interactions with NGOs and private organizations like ASER Center, Pratham Foundation, Centre for Civil Society, Akshara Foundation, UNICEF in India, Eduvisors Research and Consulting, Edutor Technologies, and INTEL @ School provided valuable insight into the school education system and their thoughts on potential application of ICT to enhance outcomes in School Education were taken as input for the Core Scope Document.
The above participatory/ consultative process helped in the identification of the services to be included in the Core Scope Document of MMP in School Education.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
To deliberate on the service prioritization, implementation model, and phasing of MMP in School Education, a National Workshop was conducted at New Delhi on 27th July 2012. The National Workshop was attended by 44 officials/ representatives from the other Ministries/ Departments of the Central Government, State Government, and various other agencies (Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Daman & Diu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, NIOS, KVS, CBSE, Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD),, Ministry of DoNER, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, NUEPA, and NCERT).
In the workshop the participants deliberated two issues (i) Prioritisation of services compiled from the Regional Workshop, and (ii) Best Implementation Model that is flexible enough to be adopted to quickly roll out the services and replication by all States. According to the reports on the regional and national workshops, after deliberation, following prioritization was concluded for the services:
- Learning support services to improve quality of education – Interactive portals, availability of quality content, lesson plan preparation, teacher evaluation, Student assessment tools.
- Teacher lifecycle management – End-to-end coverage of all non-teaching activities of the teacher such as pre- recruitment tests, recruitment tests, transfer and postings, trainings, pay roll, all service matters.
- School Management – All academic and back end operations of a School to deliver services to Students to capture the details about the enrolment/ admissions/ transfers, performance and Attendance of the Students, tracking the progress of Lesson Plans, scheme management, and profile and performance of each School.
- Attendance, especially of teachers, through multiple delivery mechanisms such as Mobile, PC based, call centre based etc.
In so far as Implementation Model is concerned following was concluded:
- Centre to develop Core, Configurable and Customizable application modules around common services under MMP, and
- Either assist the States to set up their own IT infrastructure or sets up a common central IT infrastructure for the states to implement the MMP.
Inter-alia, it was also concluded that re-inventing the wheel should be avoided and existing initiatives undertaken by the States should be studied and redeveloped. Various services of MMP in School Education proposed to be developed should also be accessible from handheld devices like mobile phones etc.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Traditionally in the government, the decision is made by the group of people placed in the hierarchical structure having authority to make decisions. The essence of collaborative governance and the public participation in decision making is generally missing. But this traditional approach of decision making is gradually disappearing. This fact was clearly visible in the case of the formulation of the Core Scope Document for MMP in School Education in India which intended to serve as policy document for ‘Delivery of Education as Service’ using IT/ ICT Platform. The DoSE&L adopted the process of collaborative governance by engaging all the stakeholders via various State Government, Central Government agencies, NGOs and private organizations in deciding the services, prioritization, implementation model, and phasing of MMP in School Education. The thick participatory governance process adopted in the three regional and one national workshop have not only given the respect and recognition to various stakeholders in their effort of delivering education leveraging IT/ ICT platform but also induced the responsibility for implementation of MMP in School Education. The regional workshops helped in data collection of stakeholder’s readiness for delivering education as service in their states, obtaining their feedback on implementation issues, generating ideas for new/ alternative suggestion, and identifying current and/ or future potential issues. The ‘role-play’ exercise helped in the identification of the services to be included in the ‘MMP in School Education’ from the perspective of the parents, teachers, students, headmaster and school management, and the school administrator. The facilitation process helped to inform various stakeholders about inclusion of Education in the foliage of NeGP and the policy of the Government in this regard. The facilitation process also helped greatly in the decisions of service prioritization, implementation model, and phasing of MMP in School Education. The collaborative and participatory process have resulted in the formulation of model Core Scope Document of MMP in School Education.
The real challenge in India for successful implementation of MMP in School Education lies on several facts such as poor IT awareness amongst the school teachers, school administrators/ managers, lack of maintenance resources in schools in rural areas to handle the day-to-day IT/ ICT operational and infrastructural issues, abysmally low bandwidth of internet, frequent power outage in rural and sub-urban areas, among others. To reap the full benefits of MMP in School Education for delivering of education as service using IT/ ICT platform in India, perhaps there is need to pay due attention to these issues as well.
(i) Brief on MMP in School Education. Retrieved from the website http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/upload_document/Brief%2...
(ii) School Education MMP. Retrieved from the website http://www.cips.org.in/school-education-mission-mode-project
(iii) Education MMP – DPR Draft 15-JAN-2014. Retrieved from the website http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/upload_document/Educati...
(iv) Report of the Regional and National Workshop. Retrieved from the website http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/upload_document/Annexur...
(v) Core Scope Document. Retrieved from the website http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/upload_document/Annexur...
(vi) Educational Statistics - At a Glance. Retrieved from the website http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/statistics/EAG2014.pdf
(ix) Sudip Suklabaidya and Angshu Maan Sen, Challenges and Prospects of E-governance in Education, International Journal of Emerging Trends & Technology in Computer Science (IJETTCS), Volume 2, Issue 3, May – June 2013.