State Intervention in Education and the Role of SIEMAT
Dr. Sudhanshu Bhushan,
paper presented in a Seminar on State, School and Community – Role of
Educational Management and Training in a Changing Perspective held at SIEMAT
Bihar, Patna, March 20-21, 1999 and Edited by Dr. Sudhansu Bhusan, Additional
Director, SIEMAT Bihar, Patna.
is difficult to understand the dynamics of state intervention in terms of
education policy and planning without a conception of the state. It is thus
imperative to analyse the dynamics of progress in education in terms of social,
political and economic inner-connections and the emerging contradictions which
the apparatus of state mechanism attempted to resolve. If the contradictions of
state intervention reflect in terms of dualism of policy and planning, the
recent shift in the paradigm of policy and planning from the centralisation to
the decentralisation, too, may be the resultant of the loss in the relative
autonomy of the state. If this is so,
then the question is whether this shift amounts to the retreat of the state or,
in fact, it is the genuine effort to restructure the state intervention by
establishing the links with the community for improving school effectiveness.
The potent danger is that if this restructuring fails, education will be thrown
open to the market forces.
objective of the paper is to briefly understand the dualism of policy and
planning. The establishment of SIEMAT, too, may not be free from the above dualism
of policy and planning. If SIEMAT fails
to be established in various states it may reflect the failure in the
restructuring of the state to meet new challenges in developing plan
competencies and the administrative preparedness in the context of decentralisation.
Therefore, it is pertinent to seek answers of state intervention through SIEMAT
only in terms of dual role of state. The role perception of SIEMAT in developing plan competencies needs
to be brought into sharper focus against this background.
Adam Smith notes that 'The education
of the common people requires, perhaps in a civilised and commercial society,
the attention of the public more than that of people of some rank and fortune'
(Smith, Wealth of Nations, p.718).
The justification of state intervention in education is nonetheless not free
from the contradictions that a capitalist state may have to face. Adam Smith's
candid view that the "civil
government is instituted primarily in the defence of private property"
(Bhaduri, Macro Economics, p.245)
raises an important contradiction. The contradiction consists of the fact that
the role of the capitalist state in curbing the power and privilege of private
property is severely limited by the logic of its own existence.
this point of view, the analysis of socio-economic and political
inner-connections throw sufficient light on the nature of state intervention.
The political aspect of the state is that a democratic state in terms of a one
man-one vote principle may reflect the interests of the masses. The economic
aspect of the state is that in terms of unequal voting of the market mechanism,
it may reflect the interests of the economically powerful sections. A socially
and culturally heterogeneous society still throws a greater challenge to the
state apparatus to serve and oblige the interests of the varied groups of the
society. The democratic state which attempts to reconcile the political and
economic aspects of democracy through continuous redistribution of income from
propertied to the property-less can only do so up to a point beyond which it
faces severe contradictions. The dynamics of state intervention must thus
reflect in a gradual loss in the relative autonomy, paving the way for the
dominant sections to pursue their our interests.
Dualism of Education Policy and Planning
the realm of education policy and planning, the role of state in trying to
resolve the demands of politically dominant, economically powerful and socially
heterogeneous groups of society reflects in the dualism of policy and planning.
dawn of independence, the planning models relied upon the commodity - centred
approach to development. To support the capital intensive process of
development, education was supposed to create a skilled manpower. There was
thus great reliance upon higher education as an engine to growth. Although
economic strategy was in favour of higher education, the political and social
compulsions of constitution makers pointed towards different directions. It
declared to achieve the goal of UEE within ten years in the hope to pacify the
social and political interests of the people who would have otherwise
challenged the state prioritisation of higher education. It was, however, a mere
wishful thinking on the part of the state to achieve the goal of UEE within ten
years. The efforts made in this direction were mindless expansion of schools.
The centralised planning exercise in this direction later showed that
government effort in this direction was non-sustainable as the state was caught
in a web of contradictions that in the realm of economics was reflected in
terms of financial crunch.
state, on the other hand, fuelled the process of growth by developing
universities, engineering, medical and other technical institutions. It was
also instrumental in developing and managing schools to cater to the interests
of its own employees.
The UEE remained simply a pipedream to be realised at
some unknown future date. The dualism of policy and planning reflected in the
failure of centralised planning in creating huge infrastructure without a
proper institutional planning at the micro-level as well as the failure of
managing the huge infrastructure.
I shall not go into the aspects of various
contradictions that were reflected in the content and choice of subjects in
education. Various educational thinkers have touched upon these aspects in
I shall refer here to the problems
of dualism of policy and planning in respect of the recent shift in the policy
of decentralisation in planning. The community was the reference point of
educational planning in its own way for a long time. The colonial policy was
later responsible for alienating the community from the process of educational
planning. After independence, the initiative of the community to manage schools
was further restricted due to state dualism of policy and planning. In this
process, privileged section from the community withdrew themselves completely
from the government schools. The education policy of fulfilling the goal of
UEE, therefore, primarily amounts to reaching the target group.
The essential elements
of education policy are following :
reach the target group to achieve UEE.
2. To make
an effort towards decentralisation of planning and management.
establish links with the community through Panchayati Raj institutions.
Failure of the state to mobilise
financial and physical resources required to achieve UEE itself is a reflection
of the fact that there are compulsions that restrict the state to pursue
egalitarian objective of fulfilling UEE.
Compulsions were the result of the
state's role in managing various contradictions in the economic, political and
social realm. Policy to achieve them becomes a wishful thinking, nonetheless,
essential on political and social grounds. State's efforts towards
decentralisation then may be interpreted as either of the following :
(a) retreat of the state from direct
intervention (b) restructuring of
state intervention by allowing community to be equal partners in education.
begin with, we interpret that policy
reflects (b) rather than (a), then planning to achieve (b) must reflect state
government's efforts to clearly perceive the process of empowering the
community and to restructure the educational administration to allow the
community to partly share the responsibility to improve school effectiveness.
So long as the process of empowering and restructuring is imposed from above
and through external agencies, through the strategy of (b) the goal of UEE
cannot be achieved. It is important to note that state government resilience
towards this approach shows that (b) would lead the way probably towards (a)
which simply means that social sector, too, may be thrown open completely to
the forces of privatisation. The delay in the implementation of Panchayati Raj
system clearly points to the dualism whereby in terms of policy pronouncement,
the UEE is supposed to be achieved through decentralised planning and
management. However, the state in managing the social, economic and political
contradictions appears to be delaying the implementation of the policy.
The upshot of the argument is that
the shift in the recent policy pronouncements of decentralisation is the result
of the contradiction that the state is managing in the realm of
economics, politics and sociology. If the state fails to resolve these contradictions
satisfactorily in favour of the masses, then again any attempt to restructure
the educational system through decentralisation may fail and ultimately the
state may have to retreat. The retreat of the state may then take the form,
from its role as direct intervenor, to one of managing and regulating the
private education system.
dualism of policy and actual planning is quite evident in so far as SIEMAT's
establishment and its role are concerned with respect to planning exercises.
N.V Varghese in his paper "A note on SIEMAT" notes "while
visualising an institute one may have to keep a long-term development of the
educational system of the state in mind rather than the short-term demands put
by any particular sector of education". He further notes, "the
immediate demand for setting up such an institute, as mentioned above, comes
from the DPEP; the funding support, too, is provided by the DPEP. However, it
may not be a desirable proposition to setup the institute strictly within the
framework of the DPEP. This is very important because DPEP is envisaged in a
project mode.". Dr. Varghese clearly and candidly refers to the
contradiction between institutional need and project mode of establishment of
SIEMAT. I am, in addition, referring to a principal contradiction. It refers to
the need of SIEMAT like institutions; whereas when actual implementation comes
in the wake of Structural Adjustment Programme as a result of new economic
policy, establishment of an institution is bound to face problems unless state
government shows its willingness to develop it as an independent institution.
Even if SIEMAT is established,
another important point concerns the role ambiguity with respect to planning.
SIEMAT is supposed to develop, firstly, the plan competencies at the district
level as decentralised planning is to be followed in the years to come. Various
state governments facing the financial crunch have already dropped various
planning schemes and a state like Bihar has so far not introduced PR system
within which a role specification of planning has to take place. Thus for whom
SIEMAT is supposed to develop plan competencies at the district level ? Of
course, within DPEP district level plan is prepared and it seems State Level
Office as state level agency of DPEP is naturally suited to develop the plan
competencies at the district level or at best it may ask SIEMAT to develop the
plan expertise to support SLO in the district level planning.
area that is open for SIEMAT is to provide support to some sort of block level
planning. The problem here is that BEEOs are ill equipped with necessary
infrastructure so that they can hardly undertake block level planning. Besides,
their role is seen more as an inspecting officer rather then ground level
planner. Most of the time they are engaged in managing the field problems. In the
present situation they can hardly make any planning effort. The utmost that
they can do is to make block level planning on an individual basis by
systematically using the information that they possess within a block.
The most challenging job at present
for SIEMAT then turns out to be in the area of micro level planning and school
mapping and the institutional planning at the school level. The objective of
micro level planning is to induce the community to develop school, health
services, roads, etc. with whatever limited resources that they possess in a
systematic manner. This is a question that relates to the empowerment of
community for communities take over/sharing of the problems of education. This
is necessarily an issue of developing a synergy between state's role in
education with that of community's role in education. This is a problem that
relates to its operational aspects for which various forms of synergy has to be
tried out and experimented with. Given this SIEMAT can at best impart training
to the education officers and the Headmasters. In the latter case, its
resources and infrastructure have to be commensurate with the responsibility,
otherwise it may confine itself to the training of educational officers leaving
it to the sweet will of the latter to spread the message in the field. Other
course could be to train the NGOs in this regard and expect them to spread the
knowledge to their respective field of operation.
The most important area of planning
is the institutional planning at the school level. The role of SIEMAT in this
context seems important. SIEMAT may spread the message of school development
planning to the educational officers. However, the problem does not end here
alone. The spread of primary schools in large geographical areas, the
contextual problems relating to teachers and educational officers and the
infrastructural difficulties always come in the way of effective
teaching-learning processes. DPEP efforts through BRCs, CRCs and VECs will have
to be implemented in a holistic perspective so that teachers ultimately get
prepared to begin proper dialogue with the community, amongst themselves and
with the students. Institutional planning in our context simply means
systematic efforts to make school's teaching-learning processes effective.