There has been much interest in scaling up programs like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the midday-meal program. At the same time, the recent measurement of what children know, done by Pratham has shown a large-scale failure in what students actually know.
I wrote a column in Business Standard today where I describe five alternative frameworks of education policy:
- Do Nothing,
- Augment Purchase,
- State Production But Do No Harm,
- State Production While Damaging the Private Sector and
- Ban Private Participation
With higher education, we are on the 5th (ban). With elementary education, we are now veering from the 3rd ("do no harm") to the 4th ("damaging the private sector") by new efforts at having State-enforced quotas in private schools.
I argue that internationally standardised test scores need to be made the foundation of education policy, as opposed to efforts like SSA which have concentrated on spending more money on public sector education. The choice of which of the five frameworks is best should be based on which appears to deliver adequate test scores in a cost-efficient manner.
Our loyalty needs to be with the interests of students instead of the interests of the existing producers of educational services. There is an innate conflict of interest in the control of education policy with incumbent educationists.