A Wel­come Pol­icy Shift in Ed­u­ca­tion

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Bud­get 2017 marks a ma­jor shift in the gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach to­wards ed­u­ca­tion. The fo­cus has shifted from fund­ing and im­prov­ing ac­cess — ed­u­ca­tion’s share of the Union Bud­get re­mains stag­nant at 3.79% of to­tal bud­getary al­lo­ca­tions de­spite a 10% in­crease in funds — to im­prov­ing out­comes across the board. This is a ma­jor shift. This is the first time that the Bud­get has out­lined a tran­si­tion­ing of the gov­ern­ment’s role as providers of ed­u­ca­tion to en­ablers of learn­ing.

From cre­at­ing is­lands of ex­cel­lence, the fo­cus is mov­ing to im­prov­ing the gen­eral lev­els of ed­u­ca­tional out­comes, for which an­nual learn­ing as­sess­ment for schools would be de­ployed. An ex­pan­sion of the pe­ri­odic learn­ing out­come as­sess­ments un­der­taken by the NCERT over the past few years for classes III, V and X would be the log­i­cal next step. An­nual as­sess­ments will help teach­ers, schools, pol­icy plan­ners, and cur­ricu­lum de­vel­op­ers to make the req­ui­site changes. The gov­ern­ment’s ac­knowl­edg­ment of the need for flex­i­bil­ity and lo­cal in­no­va­tion to im­prove out­comes is also wel­come. The pro­posed In­no­va­tion Fund for Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion is a good ini­tia­tive and should be so de­signed as to in­cen­tivise teach­ers and schools to tran­scend text­book learn­ing and avoid any new bureau­cratic boon­dog­gle. The pro­posed Na­tional Test­ing Agency for en­trance to higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes will help im­prove stan­dards across the spec­trum of higher sec­ondary schools. The prom­ise of greater au­ton­omy to higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes based on aca­demic out­comes com­pletes the loop. The fo­cus on out­come will give a fil­lip to in­no­va­tion and re­search. The fo­cus now must move to the dif­fi­cult task of im­ple­men­ta­tion, eval­u­a­tion and re­cal­i­bra­tion of mea­sures that will im­prove the ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence of all.

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