|SCHOOL CHOICE CAMPAIGN: RIGHT TO EDUCATION OF CHOICE!|
The first School Choice National Conference (SCNC) on Quality Education for All: Policy Solutions for Better Schooling was organized by the School Choice Campaign on 16 December 2009 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The Conference had an excellent blend of top-level national and international academics, policy makers, eminent speakers and education experts and advisors as well as a very good representation of delegates comprising of development workers, corporates, academicians and school leaders, government officials, civil society, social activists, youth and the media.
The Conference focused on the key provisions of the Right to Education Act and their potential impact on the future of Indian elementary education- implementation of the 25% in Section 12 of the RTE, Graded Recognition System: Positive Regulation and Strengthening Government Schools.
Featured session speakers included Mr Kanwal Rekhi, Mr Sam Carlson, Dr Parth J Shah, Prof R Govinda, Mr Anders Hultin, Mr Karthik Muralidharan, Mr Amit Kaushik, Mr Sridhar Rajagoplan, Ms Molly McMohan, Mr Baladevan R, Ms Anu Aga, Mr Vijay Chadda, Ms Neelima Khetan, Mr Gurcharan Das, Prof James Tooley, Mr Vijay Thadani, Ms Rashmi Krishnan and Mr Oscar Fernandes.
The Conference provided a much needed platform for educationists, policy experts, activists and government officials to sit together, identify critical issues in the education sector, review existing programs, explore strategies to face the challenges ahead and ideate on ingenious solutions to provide quality education to all children in India. The recommendations for the implementation of RTE as a follow up of the conference will be presented to the government.
For details visit www.schoolchoice.in/scnc2009
School Choice Recommendations to MHRD for PPP in School Education
School Choice Campaign presented to the Ministry of Human Resource Development its recommendations for Public Private Partnership (PPP) models of school vouchers and management contracts in School Education. PPPs have displayed great potential in leveraging the innovation and specialization of the private sector to create public goods. This submission proposes the PPP models of vouchers and management contracting to address the existing issues facing education. These two suggestions offer great promise for government intervention in the demand side (voucher scheme) and supply side (management contracting) of the schooling equation. The two PPP models proposed here offer a great potential for the government to achieve their goals of universal education whilst retaining the focus on quality and accountability of education.
STUDENT FIRST! Dialogue Series on Quality Education for All
The School Choice Campaign and India Habitat Centre launched Student First! Dialogue Series, a monthly forum for debate by the nation's foremost experts on national education policies and solutions to problems of quality in the education sector on 8 July 2009. The series will usher, for the first time in the country, a sustained constructive collaboration of ideas between the policy makers, leading economists, school leaders and other key stakeholders like parents, educationists, civil society bodies, NGOs working on education and the youth.
November: Book Launch “The Beautiful Tree”
The School Choice Campaign and Penguin Books launched Professor James Tooley’s new “The Beautiful Tree-A Personal Journey into How the world’s Poorest People are Educating Themselves" on 11 November 2009 at the India Habitat Centre.
The launch of the book was followed by a panel discussion between the author, Mr Madhav Chavan, Co-founder and Director, Pratham; Ms Reshma Lohia, Correspondent for Lohia’s Little Angels School, Hyderabad; and Mr Ashish Rajpal, CEO, idiscoveri. Madhav Chavan spoke about the importance of the book in a time when the national parliament has passed the Right to Education Bill. Ms Lohia spoke passionately about the role of budget private schools in educating children from disadvantaged communities. Mr Rajpal impressed upon the need for quality education and applauded the Prof Tooley’s work in this regard.
The members of the audience participated in a lively discussion of the educational challenges facing the nation in this day and age. This session was moderated by Mr Baladevan Rangaraju, National Director – School Choice Campaign.
The book highlights a wave of change sweeping the nation and the role of numerous small but inspiring private schools run by good samaritans from the communities themselves. The book tells us numerous stories of how the hope and aspirations of the poor and the enterprise of the new school owners come together to offer an alternative to the government education system.
The School Choice Campaign brought together three experts, Mr Vijay Thadani, CEO, NIIT Ltd and Chairman of CII National Committee on Education, Ms Rashmi Krishnan, Additional Director, Directorate of Education (Delhi) and Director, SCERT and Mr Oscar Fernandes, senior leader, Indian National Congress and Chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development for the December dialogue which focused on the assessment of the nation’s preparedness for the Challenges Facing India’s Education Section in 2010.
“How do we go from policy to action, how do we handle education as a concurrent subject, where will the resources come from and what do we expect the role of the private sector in order to ensure a win-win situation for all,” said Mr Vijay Thadani who expressed the need to create a new standard and structure which the rest of the world could emulate. Mr Rasmi Krishnan highlighted the need for vocalization, skill development, better teaching materials and teacher quality, technology upgradation and infrastucture development in order to address the acute challenge of poverty in India. Mr Oscar Fernandes emphasized on the role of the local government to ensure that every child in his/her district goes to school. He summed up with the belief that the role of the private sector was huge and that more public private partnerships would lead to a better educated India.
The highlight of the discussion, an animated interactive open forum saw mixed views from representatives of schools, NGOs, education consultants, government departments and the youth.
For details visit www.schoolchoice.in/sfdialogue/december2009.php
Parents had a cause to cheer this admission season as the Directorate of Education, Delhi brought about a Common Admission Schedule in place for admission to pre-primary classes in private recognized schools of Delhi. The Parents’ Charter prepared by ASAR and presented to the Directorate had the Common Admission Schedule as the most important reform to make the admission system more time-bound, and hence fairer. The schedule released by the Directorate on 28 Oct, 2009 directs all schools in Delhi to start admissions from 15 December and has fixed dates for closing admissions, for releasing the list of selected children and finally the final date for closure of the admission process. Thus, schools can be flexible within the broad dates given, but have to keep the schedule, notably; the Directorate took action against a number of erring schools which had started admissions before the stipulated date. It is a relief for parents who now at least have some fixed dates so they can plan queuing up forms and taking time out for all schools around the same period instead of having to adjust their routines to an erratic admission schedule. The Directorate has also activated an admission complaint mechanism to facilitate parents to address and dispose off complaints in five working days.
The Parents’ Charter has also suggested reforms in payment of fee and deposit at the time of admission and the refund of it within a stipulated time frame, abolishing ambiguous criteria when it comes to selecting a child for admission and displaying the break-up of points gained by each child when the admission list is released.
Please write to us at email@example.com or call us at 09952059097 to get assistance regarding any complaint in nursery admissions. You can log in at www.schoolchoice.in/nurseryadmission/ to file a complaint online and know more about the initiative.
|REMOVING BARRIERS TO LIVELIHOOD|
Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth a national centre for ecclesiastical training (JDV) and CCS organized the Jeevika Documentary Film Festival at the Papal Seminary Hall, Ramwadi, Pune on 20 and 21 November 2010. The Chief Guest for the inauguration of the festival was Mr Babu Pathare, MLA of Vadgaonsheri constituency and Mr John Paul, former Corporator was the Special Guest.
10 Jeevika films were screened during the two-day festival which included Hearts Suspended, Tales of the Night Fairies, Disposable, All the World’s a Stage, The Female Nude and Amma amongst others. After each film screening a 15 minute discussion on the issue was organised and the floor was open to the audience for discussion.
For pictures of the festival visit http://jeevika.org/jeevika-pune.html
|DEVELOPING NEW LEADERS WITH NEW IDEAS|
17 Hindi Media Professionals from ten media houses across eight cities in northern India went back to school at the three-day residential Certificate Course on Public Policy for Journalists organized by CCS from 13-15 November 2009.
This new initiative supported by the Friedrich Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit (FNF) provided journalists an opportunity to inquire, learn, critically analyze and advocate the principles of sound public policy thereby providing them a tool for evaluation of current and future public policies. Research toolkits provided a framework to analyze each story/ issue/ problem from a policy angle thereby facilitating better and informed articles.
Key sessions of the Course focused on Poverty Alleviation & Wealth Creation, Governance: Accountability, Transparency and Delivery, Role of International Institutions in a Globalising World, and Education: Access & Technology. Expert speakers of each session were Mr Sanjay Kumar, SEWA Bharat, Mr Shailesh Gandhi, Central Information Commission, Ms Yamini Aiyar, Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research, Mr Bipul Chatterjee, CUTS Institute for Regulation & Competition, Dr René Klaff, FNF, Mr Vinod Janardhanan, Delegation of the European Commission to India, Bhutan and Nepal, Mr Madhav Chavan, Pratham, Mr Gautam Puri, Career Launcher India Ltd, Dr Parth J Shah and Ms Swati Chawla, CCS.
The participants were awarded the Certificate on Public Policy at the Graduation Ceremony on the 15 Nov 2009. Many participants were eager to get back to their offices to share these learnings among their teams, to work on stories on the topics discussed, to initiate longer term campaigns on some of the issues closer to their hearts; to share their writings on CCS’ liberal Hindi portal, www.azadi.me and to continue their journey to re-educate themselves.
CCS Policy Roundtable at the Constitution Club
Policy Roundtable for Members of Parliament is an attempt by CCS to bridge the divide between policy research and policy making. By bringing together MPs and knowledge experts, these roundtables engages legislators on issues of national importance and serves as a platform for policy discussion. Views from domain experts provide both macro and micro level information and thus encourage relevant, realistic and liberal policy making. CCS organized three policy roundtables during the Parliament session between November and December.
National Urban Street Vendors Policy 2009, 18 November 2009
The series opened with a discussion on the National Urban Street Vendors Policy 2009, a policy that allows economic freedom and poverty alleviation for millions. Arbind Singh, National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) and Shalini Trivedi, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), provided an overview of this well-drafted Policy and stressed on effective implementation. Resistance from the administrative bodies, lack of political will and stronger mechanisms to ensure compliance from the states were highlighted as main roadblocks standing in the way. Oscar Fernandes, the former chair of drafting committee of the said Policy, who was present at the roundtable, expressed his willingness to consider any further recommendations and suggestions on the Policy.
Bamboo Cultivation and Trade, 25 November 2010
Bamboo has the potential to create livelihood opportunities for atleast 25 million Indians, however, archaic laws and the wrong classification as a “Tree” have stifled both supply and demand in this sector. Speaking at the second Roundtable on bamboo cultivation and trade, Kamesh Salam, President of World Bamboo Organization and Director, Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre, Guwahati highlighted the potential of bamboo–an extremely important renewable resource –in providing a steady and sustainable source of livelihood, promoting ecological security and building peace and prosperity in Northeast India. Six MPs signed CCS’ petition “Bamboo is NOT a tree” to pledge their support.
Reforms in Higher Education, 2 December 2009
With six bills being finalized by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, there was significant interest among Parliamentarians in the field of higher education. The Policy Roundtable, titled Reforms in Higher Education, took up the recommendations made by the National Knowledge Commission and Yash Pal Committee for discussion among Members of Parliament. The expert speakers for this session were Mr Amlan Goswami (formerly Research Associate, National Knowledge Commission) and Dr Apoorvanand (Consultant, Yash Pal Committee).
The Members of Parliament (MPs) enthusiastically participated in the discussions following the presentations by the expert speakers. The key point of debate was the suggestion by Yash Pal Committee to replace existing bodies such as University Grants Commission and All India Council for Technical Education with a National Commission for Higher Education and Research. Some MPs felt that the new body would fall prey to the same problems afflicting the existing bodies. Present among the MPs were Oscar Fernandes (Chairman, Standing Committee on Human Resource Development), Prakash Javedkar (Spokesperson, BJP) and Sharad Joshi.
The MPs showed keen interest in taking these issues to a larger number of Parliamentarians and will continue to engage with CCS in the coming months.
I Society & Public Policy Hindi Seminar 2009, Delhi
I, Society & Public Policy Hindi seminar was held from 17-19 December 2009 at the Don Bosco specialized training institute, Okhla with 40 enthusiastic participants from across different parts of India. Students from various colleges and universities were selected through a common application procedure.
During this four-day residential seminar, students engaged in endless discussions on the pros and cons of promoting privatization/decentralization and limiting government’s role and understanding how such models have worked for other countries. Experts like Yamini Aiyyar from Centre for Policy reform and Amrita Johri talked about making the government more accountable and transparent, Member of Parliament (RS) PD Rai from Sikkim addressed the issue of public policy flaws with regards to bamboo cultivation in India. On the third day, participants in small groups were in the field cutting across streets and slums around Okhla researching and assessing the realities; speaking to people about basic issues like health and sanitation, transport system, street hawkers and understanding their problems. On the last day they presented their observations and proposed solutions to the issues on the basis of which 2 groups were awarded as best.
all photographs of the seminar click
|BRINGING THE BEST OF LIBERAL THINKING TO HINDIBHASIS|
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Conversations with Gurcharan Das on “The Difficulty of Being Good”
Following the launch of The Difficulty of Being Good, On the Subtle Art of Dharma by Gurcharan Das on the 25 August 2009, catch the author in conversation with Nandan Nilekani, Ashish Nandi, Jerry Rao, Arun Maira, Salman Khurshid, and Kiran Karnik on http://gurcharandas.org/?page_id=237.
Gurcharan Das’s superb exposition of the dilemmas and ambiguities inherent in the Mahabharata shows us how we can come to terms with the uncertain ethics of the world today, a world that is uncannily similar to that of the great epic. This book turns to the Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata, in order to answer the question, ‘why be good?’ and it discovers that the epic’s world of moral haziness and uncertainty is closer to our experience as ordinary human beings rather than the narrow and rigid positions that define most debate and discussion today after 9/11.
For more information visit www.gurcharandas.org
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