DPEP: Progress Towards Achieving Goals
By Sumit Bose, Joint Secretary, Elementary Education and Literacy Department, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi in DPEP Calling, April-July 2000, MHRD, New Delhi (Extract from a presentation made to the Eleventh Joint Review Mission of DPEP, on April 1, 2000). Copy Right: EDITOR, DPEP CALLING
With the expansion of the programme to 38 more districts in Uttar Pradesh, DPEP now covers 214 districts (242 including bifurcated districts), spread over 15 states. Expansion of the DPEP to 28 more districts - six in Gujarat, nine in Rajasthan, eight in Orissa, and five in West Bengal - are in the pipeline.
A new Department of Elementary Education and Literacy has come into existence and for the first time in the coming fiscal year a separate budget for the Department has been presented before Parliament. The budget for Elementary Education has been enhanced from Rs. 2852 crores (1 Crore = 10 Million) in 1999-2000 to Rs. 3608 crores in 2000-01. The budget outlay for DPEP in the fiscal year beginning today has gone up by over 40 percent to Rs. 976 crores, up from our actual expenditure of Rs.673 crores this year. In 1997-98 the provision was Rs. 545 crores and in 1998-99 it was Rs.549 crores.
Moving towards the super-goal of ensuring universal access to all children, we have started more than 30,000 alternative schools in un-served habitations. Now, in all we have almost 41,000 alternative schools covering some 1.6 million children. Of these 5600 alternative schools were set up in the last six months. The task of universalisation is now centred on reaching the most deprived and disadvantaged groups.
Recently a National Workshop of Alternative School Co-ordinators discussed the interventions for education of the most difficult of these groups such as children who migrate, working children and deprived urban children including street children. To achieve universalisation, such groups have to be included in formal or alternative schools on a priority basis. It is expected that there will be a renewed thrust to reach out to such children.
Learning from tile experience from alternative schooling in DPEP as well as many of the innovations carried out by Non-Governmental Organisations across the country, the national Scheme of Non-formal Education (NI-E) has been recast to allow a variety of interventions, such as the Education Guarantee Scheme, Back to School Gamps, Special Intervention for Adolescent Girls and remedial teaching.
Special Focus Group
There has been considerable progress in universalising physical access in tribal areas, d he enrolment rates of tribal children also increased significantly in most districts. However, in some areas the dropout rates of tribal children are still high. There is a need for effective strategies in these pockets to help retention of tribal children. However, on the quality front much needs to be done. Training of teachers on attitudinal issues, development of locally relevant materials and effective classroom strategies to address the language issue need to be undertaken on a much wider scale.
Data, which has been shared with previous missions has shown that under DPEP there have been substantial gains in girls enrolment and that we are moving steadily towards the DPEP goals. Girl’s enrolment has indeed increased faster than that of boys. Most phase I districts have already reduced enrolment gaps to specified levels. Repetition rates were generally lower among girls than boys. There are, however, pockets that need to be reached.The challenge before us is to completely remove the barriers to the education of girls from particular socio-economic groups. Many states have already started moving in this direction with more efficient strategies and the results have been positive. An area which now needs greater attention is the retention of girls. In this context lack of female teachers remains an area of concern.
In regions where enrolment gaps have been minimized the focus needs to shift to classroom processes. It is encouraging that states like Uttar Pradesh and Kerala have already initiated this process.
We cannot achieve the goal of universalisation of primary education unless children with special needs constituting about ten percent of the child population are brought under the education system. Half of the children identified in the catchment area of the programme of Integrated Education for the Disabled (IED) in DPEP are now in schools. But we still have miles to go. The programme has to be up-scaled to all blocks, resource support strengthened and aids and appliances are to he provided to all children who require them.
School quality remains the paramount importance in DPEP States have continued various pedagogical renewal processes such as textbook development, teacher training and development of TEM. We now seek to institutionalise these processes. At the IDR Mission in 1999, reports based on the case studies of CRCs, BRCs and DIETs, which were functioning well, were presented. A major motivation for preparing these reports was to share these positive practices with states and stimulate them to improve their own resource institutions. In line with the recommendations that emerged from these case studies, a special focus area has been capacity building of- Block and Cluster Resource Centres. States have been helped in defining the roles of these centres and evolving plans for l heir capacity building.
At the same time, an attempt" has been made to keep the debate on various pedagogical issues going. Issues regarding early reading were discussed intensively in a national workshop on school libraries in February 2000. An issue of the journal brought out by the Pedagogy Unit devoted to the theme of "Story Telling" will be shared with the states. More such thematic areas will be taken in various way in the coming months.
Strengthening of teacher education, especially DIETs, is a priority for the Department extending beyond DPEP. The centrally sponsored scheme of Restructuring and Reorganization of teacher Education has been revamped. More resources will now be available for infrastructure as well as training and research components of DIETs, Colleges of Teacher Education and Institutes of Advanced Studies in Education. It is also proposed to enter into MOUs with the State Governments to ensure fulfilment of such commitments as formulation of recruitment policy and tilling up of vacant posts and other measures to help in the functioning of SCERTs and DIETs.
The Distance Education Programme
(DEP) has reached the stage of producing print, audio and video materials for the use of teachers and other primary education personnel. Through one way video and two way audio interactive tele-conferencing and TV, longer groups have been accessed in a number of states. Two way audio and two way video tele-conference will be now used on a pilot basis. Radio, a companion media, which is cheap and has almost 100 percent coverage-in the country, is proposed to be used in a big way for classroom instruction and also for two-way audio interactive training programmes for teacher and other primary education personnel. Karnataka has initiated a programme of classroom instruction through radio broadcasting in Gulharga. This is planned to be replicated in other states.
Community mobilisation and participation has remained an integral intervention in DPEP cutting across different functional areas. This builds on the national thrust of democratic decentralisation, evidence of which may lie seen in the fresh round of Panchayat elections in several DPHP States. Developments in the last six months in DPEP have shown several interesting instances of interventions based on community participation. The distance education mode of providing an outreach to the VECs has been successfully used in many states. A beginning has been made in the use of research data in targeting community participation. For example, in Tamil Nadu, the cohort study has been disseminated and used by the community mobilisation coordinators to elicit block-wise strategies.
Evidence of widespread involvement and voluntary contribution of communities are now seen across all States. The challenge ahead lie in assisting and sensitising States to re-focus strategies so as to stress on the phenomenon of repetition and dropout as well as carrying out systematic process documentation. An attempt has been made to integrate need based and grassroots planning of "micro planning" undertaken by some states in the formulation of annual work plans. This issue was discussed with the states at length in a workshop in December 1999. The indications are that this year states have made greater effort to involve block reams and various other grassroots functionaries in the preparation of the annual work plans. There has been an attempt to make better use of information available from the micro planning process in formulating annual work plans. We have also requested the state secretaries to facilitate more integrated plans. The JRM may like to go into the-planning process in the various states and provide us with feedback.
DPEP has succeeded in establishing an Educational Management Information System, which is tar superior to any other educational statistical system in the country. In spite of these considerable gains, there are still many issues that need to he considered. The need to improve the Management Information System was also emphasised by the last JRM. In the past few months, initiatives have been taken in two directions. Firstly, an attempt is being made to revise and refine the existing school based data system so that is yields more relevant information. Particularly, attempts are being made to incorporate information about student retention in the new system. Secondly, a committee has been constituted to explore the possibility of building a data system based on household surveys, which will provide more information about out of school children. There could be many possible problems with such an exercise. The data collection job is vast, there is no well-defined agency that can collect such data and the cost implications could be high. However, the committee will consider ways of using household surveys while minimizing these constraints. Case studies are also being undertaken of household surveys conducted by states and their consequent use. Results of these case studies will be utilised in the deliberations of the committee.
Research and evaluation has now been increasingly used in the monitoring and implementation of interventions in DPEP a large number of research studies have been generated. We have shared with this mission four of these studies. The focus is how to disseminate and use the findings across various levels in programme implementation. Institutional development will have to be encouraged through the research agenda particularly in the DIETs, BRCs and CRCs. Further, the moment, it appears, has now come to expand the base of networking with institutions and disseminate findings of DPEP studies to the larger research community both within the country and internationally.
Orissa and West Bengal have been "special watch" states for some time. The last JRM could not visit Orissa in November 1999 because of the cyclone. Consequently, we launched an internal supervision mission that visited Orissa in January 2000 and a report of the mission has been prepared. It was heartening to note that in the last few months the programme in Orissa has picked up considerably. The state has, within the last three months, started 694 new schools and 380 alternative schools in un-served habitation. The state has also set up cluster resource centres and made them functional. We have attempted to provide special inputs for the cluster resource persons to ensure centres, which function well. These developments in Orissa are an extremely positive signal. We have constantly taken up with the Government of Orissa the need to avoid frequent transfer of project functionaries who have been trained with some care.
The implementation of DPEP has improved significantly in West Bengal. The activities that have been implemented in the past six months include training of all teachers which is likely to he completed by March 2000, establishment of CRCs, undertaking of house-to-house survey and civil works activities. The State society is now also the nucleus for the UPE effort for the whole State.
The Mission may like to consider whether one or both of these states should now be taken off the "special watch" status, which would be a way of acknowledging the special effort made.
The proposal of enhancement of the ceiling on civil works from the current level of 24 percent to 33 percent has now been approved by the Expenditure Finance Committee. The plan for enhancement will he appraised at the national level and it would be ensured that other essential programme components remain unaffected, both from the financial and management point of view.
We have been in dialogue with the Ministry of Rural Development in our efforts to ensure that cost effective technologies and designs developed under DPEP are put to use in construction works which are taken up across the country under other programmes, such as, Jawahar Gram Samriddhi Yojana and Rozgar Ashwashan Yojana.
The funds earmarked by the Government of India for DPF.P have shown a consistent upward trend over the last few years.
Expenditure trends under the programme have been varied. Expenditure under DPEP - II has been encouraging. Cumulative expenditure is over 90 percent of the budget. Forever, expenditure for Phase - I districts is 72 percent of IDA targets and 82.6 percent for EC assisted Madhya Pradesh DPEP The slowdown in expenditure over the last two years remains an area of concern.
Expenditure for DFID funded Andhra Pradesh is 56.4 percent, West Bengal 34 percent, Phase - III (Bihar) 29 percent and Phase - IV (Andhra Pradesh) 74.38 percent. Rajasthan expenditure is only 7 percent of the target.
Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra, Assam, Bihar and West Bengal will need to accelerate the pace of expenditure. It is expected that with the increase in the limits for civil works from 24 percent to 33 percent, which was recently approved by the EEC, expenditure would show an upward revision.
Following our intervention, some of the defaulting states, namely Haryana and Bihar, have released their full state share while some other states like Maharashtra and Rajasthan have made partial releases.
Phase-I states have now prepared utilisation plans for the anticipated savings. These plans are currently being appraised by the Bureau.
Uttar Pradesh (UPBEP) and DPEP-I sates have undertaken sustainability study/report. These states have identified activities and processes of DPEP, which they would like to contribute, identified structures and institutions that will support these activities and have worked out the financial implications. All sates are unanimous in their expressed need to continue and retain the core interventions, structures and processes of DPEP including BRC's/CRCs, new schools, As centres, teacher grants, teacher training programmes, VECs, resource groups, community participation programmes and initiatives for special groups.
The total additional expenditure is only a small percentage of the total outlay for elementary education in the state and it is not difficult for states to meet it. Some states have decided to earmark the additional expenditure in their budget as in the case of Uttar Pradesh.