Education scam PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 17 January 2014 02:47
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This one is detailed in the Aser report, not a CAG one

Public attention is focused on the large number of zeroes in the 2G scam and Coalgate, but a far bigger one, given this reoccurs year after year, is the education scam. Between the central and the state governments, over R1,47,000 crore was spent on elementary education alone in FY13—and the number has more than doubled in just the last five years, from R68,500 crore in FY08. That’s around R11,500 per child in FY12, based on that year’s enrolments. Given that education is the key to good jobs, that’s encouraging, and it helps that enrolment of children in elementary schooling is up to around 96% at the all-India level. The good news, however, stops there. For one, as one Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) for rural India shows over the years, the proportion of children studying in private schools is rising dramatically—hardly the result you’d expect given the free education being provided by the government. From around 17% in 2005, around 29% of all rural children were being educated in private schools in 2013. That speaks volumes for the way parents perceive the quality of government education. Nor is this without foundation. If you look at the proportion of children in class 5 who can read a book prescribed for class 2—so we’re really dumbing down the test—the latest Aser survey tells us, the number is a mere 37% for government schools versus 62% for private schools (all the date is for children who don't get extra tuition privately).

But, you could argue, at least getting a child educated in a government school is free. Not quite. If you divide the amount spent with the number of children in school, it adds up to a whopping R1,000 or so per month—so were this money to be given to parents directly, or to private schools funded by the state, the levels of education would rise dramatically. There’s more. The Aser survey found that were children in government schools to get tuition, their performance improved dramatically—the proportion of the same class 5 children who could read a class 2 textbook rises to 52%, from 37% for kids who don’t get private tuition. So while parents are saving on school fees if they send their children to government schools, they end up spending R200-300 per month on private tuition anyway. This is also a pointer to how it would be better to hire lower-paid para-teachers who are more devoted to their jobs, and being on contracts, tend to take it a bit more seriously.

Not surprisingly, all surveys give the same reason for the poor performance. Highly-paid—relative to general salary levels—teachers don’t come to school to teach, the spending is more focused on infrastructure-creation than it is on buying teaching aids; and, to the extent the expenditure is mostly controlled by bureaucrats, school committees and parents really have very little control over the way the money is spent. Given the way learning disabilities continue from junior classes into senior ones—the Aser report has an interesting cohorts analysis on this—it is evident the current system is completely dysfunctional. And with a largely illiterate work force, coupled with anti-industry labour laws, it is not surprising, as the latest ILO report points out, that new jobs being created are largely in the unorganised sector.


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