Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Passing it on

Oscar Wilde wrote: "The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on."

On the theory that the same principle applies to links, here are a couple of interesting articles that showed up in my mailbox this morning.

Crazy Snake Man writes in with an article about a new drive by the Maharashtra State Education Department to test quality of learning outcomes in schools and set up penalties / incentives for teachers in low performing / high performing schools. There's clearly much that could be done to make the effort more comprehensive, but it's heartening to see the quality of outcomes finally being given priority, and as I said in my earlier post, setting up appropriate incentive systems for teachers is key to improving the primary school system.

Meanwhile, B. points to an editorial in the HT that argues for the importance of primary education reform (rather than reservations in elite institutes) for achieving social equality. I'm not sure I agree with everything the authors are saying (some parts of the piece sound too much like they're just ranting) but the overall point - that elite institutes should be privatised and the funds allocated to them spent on reforms in the primary sector - is one I support.

Finally, this is probably as good time as any to mention a mail S. sent me in response to my reservation post, saying that in her experience, the government's a lot more responsive than I give them credit for in my post. Citing a number of examples where state governments have been very open to new initiatives her organisation is working on, S. writes:

"Wanted to say that at least in my limited experience, the govt has been terrific- very open, pretty grateful for the added insights, connections- I mean it took some time to build those relationships, but once you rope in both the political and the administrative cadre, things move both well and fast. Yes there are petty ego issues sometimes, but I think those kinds of things happen as much in the Indian pvt and non profit sectors too...Maybe it's because we already have a very strong rep in govt systems, but maybe it's also because policy makers are really fairly open to quality, non-threatening help and support."

That doesn't necessarily square with my own experience, and I still feel there's a lot more the government could do to encourage private participation, but it's good to keep in mind that there are organisations out there that have had positive experiences and instances when the government has been open and supportive.

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Heh Heh said...

Actually her observations square quite well with the experiences we had in Bhuj after the Guj earthquake.

Especially the "policy makers are really fairly open to quality, non-threatening help and support" part.

Anirudh said...

A question:

How do you judge which schools/teachers are performing well?

Falstaff said...

heh heh: Good point.

anirudh: read the article. You see whether the kids who have supposedly been learning English for three years can fill in the blank between d and g in 'd_g'. If they can't, then it's safe to say they're not performing well.

Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Waiting for more. »