Primary education in India is predominantly funded and
managed by the government. Therefore,
investment decisions by the Government
determine the pattern of expansion of educational facilities. Over a period of time it is noticed that
certain areas are more endowed with school facilities than other areas. School mapping is an essential planning tool
to overcome possibilities of regional inequities arising from the investment
policies of the public authorities.
School mapping incorporates spatial and demographic dimensions
into the educational planning process.
The major question answered by the school mapping exercise is where to
locate educational facilities. Location
of educational facilities depends on the norms and standards developed by the
public authorities. Even within the
norms and standards, many geographical areas may be eligible for opening of new
schools. School mapping technique helps
us to identify the most appropriate location of schools or their alternatives
so that more number of children can be benefited from the same level of
investment. The major objective of school mapping is to create equality of
educational opportunities by leveling off of the existing disparities in the
distribution of educational facilities.
This technique is useful to plan all levels of education. However, it is more widely used for planning
for facilities at the compulsory levels of education. School mapping is not confined to locating formal schools;
location of alternatives to formal schools is a part of the school mapping exercise.
The methodology of school mapping envisages specification
of norms, diagnosis of the existing educational facilities, projection of
future population, deciding the location of schools, estimates of facilities
required in all the (existing and new) educational institutions and estimation of financial resources required.
One of the first steps in school mapping is
to select a unit for the exercise. The
school mapping exercises help identifying the most ideal locations to open
schools. Given this primary purpose
school mapping exercises can not be undertaken for one village
or habitation. A cluster of villages or a block can be an ideal unit for school
mapping activities. The next step involved is to diagnose or assess the
educational development in the selected area.
The effort is to analyse the present status of education in an
area/region to identify strength and weakness of the system and to understand
the geographical distribution of educational facilities in the selected
For diagnosing the educational situation it is better to
collect data on the selected items during the previous 4 - 5 years or a
decade. We may require data on
population, literacy enrollment, teachers, building, flow rates of students,
infrastructure etc. The population data
are very important in school mapping exercises. Data on total population by sex, caste and age group for atleast
two points of time are minimum requirements.
We may also need to have data on population of age groups 6-11 and
11-14. For diagnosing educational
situation data on important indicators like literacy rate, enrollment ratios,
retention rates and dropout rates are
required. The present status of
teachers position is important and in this respect data on number of teachers
by qualification, experience, training and sex are required. Similarly, teacher-pupil ratio is also
important to assess the present situation.
Another set of information required is on buildings and infrastructure
facilities. Information on the condition of building, number of rooms, type of
building and on other facilities in schools like blackboard, water, toilet,
electricity, playground, etc. are useful to prepare school specific plans.
The next step in school mapping exercise is to assess the
number of children to be enrolled. This
estimate is to be made on the basis of catchment area of school and it requires
projection of total and school age specific population. There are various methods of population
projection. Method of population
projections are classified into three categories namely Mathematical, Economic
and Component methods. Keeping in view
scant demographic data at the block and district level, it is not possible to
undertake detailed population projection exercise. Therefore, growth rates and ratio methods of population
projection are more commonly used at this level.
Enrolment projections are important to decide on the opening of
new schools, up-gradation of existing schools and to estimate the number of
teachers required. The techniques of
enrolment projections can broadly be classified into two-mathematical and
analytical methods. Mathematical
methods require aggregate enrolment data at least for five to ten years, and
only total enrolment can be projected.
On the other hand, analytical methods require promotion, drop-out,
repetition and apparent entry rates.
There are three simple methods of enrolment projections, namely, rate of
growth, enrolment ratio and grade-transition methods. The application of a particular method depends upon the
requirements and the availability of data.
At the lowest level, cohort method for grade-wise enrolment projections
are more desirable. However, at the
local level many information required to make reliable projections are not
available. Therefore, one may have to
depend on the most probable approximations.
For example, the projection method used to derive school age-group
children in this exercise is based on the assumption of a fixed proportion of
the total population.
The next step in the exercise is to specify norms,
standards and catchment area. Opening
of new schools or their alternatives are based on the norms regarding
threshold population, which indirectly defines the potential number of children
to be enrolled in a given locality. In
India the norm that is followed is to open a primary school in areas which have
a population of 300 and above in plain areas and 250 or above in the remote or
tribal areas. Similarly, after the 1986
policy, the norm adopted for the number of teachers is a minimum of two
teachers in all the primary schools irrespective of the size of enrollment. The other important norm is regarding the maximum permissible
distance a child has to travel from home to school. This in the school mapping terminology means definition of catchment
area of a school. The catchment area of
a school is the geographical area served by a school. It is defined as the maximum acceptable
distance a child can travel from home to school. Normally catchment area is measured in terms of area of a circle
or Hexagon. In India, especially in the
remote areas, the settlement is in habitations. One may frequently come across situations in remote areas in
India where one may not find any household for long distances. And where
habitations are located, it may have a cluster of households. Given this pattern of population settlement
in India, we have not adopted the traditional catchment area concept. What we have adopted alternatively is a
distance matrix method whereby the distances between habitations are measured. Therefore, number of habitations and their
distances from the school are considered to decide the catchment area of the
school. It is easy to develop distance
matrix. The only information required
to develop such a matrix is the distances between habitations or villages. The distances are to be measured from the
locations within villages or habitation where households are concentrated. These details can be obtained through a
It is easy to locate schools based on the distance matrix
method. As mentioned earlier, location
of schools is based on the norms and resources available. If the public authorities have resources to
open schools wherever they are required, then prioritization is a less
meaningful technique. However, schools
are opened only in some selected locations.
The norms form the basis to prioritise such decisions. Based on the distance norms and the
resources available, decisions regarding opening of new schools, if any
required, can be arrived at. As part of
the school mapping exercise, one may have to assess the requirements of
facilities in schools. While the
facilities to be provided in the new school can be easily assessed, the same
in the existing schools need to be based on an assessment of the existing
facilities in these schools. Based on
the population growth and potential growth in enrollment, additional
infrastructural facilities may be required in the existing schools. It may be important to incorporate not only
the infrastructural facilities but also other requirements of teaching learning
materials to be purchased in the school.
Based on these requirements cost estimates can be made and proposals can
be prepared for funding.
Planning at the lowest spatial unit can be termed as
micro level planning. In the Indian
context micro level planning can mean planning carried out at the village level
or even at the habitation level. While selecting a unit for micro planning one
has to consider the availability of educational facilities like a school or a
non-formal education center. In other
words, while we try to develop micro level planning in education we may have to
select a unit centering around an educational institution. This may be a school or its alternative
which is already existing or planning to be opened. The objectives of the micro
level planning are: i) to mobilize local community to prepare village level
plans; ii) to provide a support system to the schools and teachers so that
schools become more functional; and iii) to ensure that all eligible children
from the locality attend the schools.
The major objective of the micro planning exercise is not on issues
pertaining to allocation of resources but on issues pertaining to better and
efficient use of resources which are already allocated to a particular
locality, area or school.
Micro planning should not be seen as a one shot
exercise. It is a continuous process
and it unfolds itself in the process of implementing and operationalising plans
prepared either at the local level or at the higher levels. Micro planning focusses more on the
operational details of achieving a specified plan target.
Micro planning exercise can be undertaken by
local people. In fact the object and
subject of micro planning is local people.
How to make schools community based?
How do we ensure accountabilities of the school to the community it
serves? What is the mechanism to
channelise social forces towards education?
These are important questions in micro planning exercise.
Micro planning exercise involves less of technical skills
and more of social skills. How to
interact with the community for a common cause? How to bring them together on a common platform? How are we going to deal with the existing
social hierarchy in a given locality?
These are the issues which make a micro planning exercise successful or
failure. How to organize micro planning exercises in villages can not be based on a single
model. Each locality may have some
characteristics which may make micro planning exercise different across
The steps involved in operationalising or developing a
micro planning exercise are as follows:
i) Understanding the Village: This may be a first step to
identify the problems faced by the village so that basic intervention strategies can be clearly understood.
ii) Preparation of a Village Map: A village may be having many
facilities and educational facilities may be one among such facilities. It may be better if these facilities are
plotted on a map so that people of the locality will be able to visually
observe their village and allocation of the facilities in their village. A discussion based on such a map may be a
iii) Identification of Non-enrolled and Dropout Children: Normally
household survey becomes a part of micro planning exercise. Household survey provides details about the
children to be enrolled, retained in the school or dropped out from the school. This will be a very useful information to
initiate activities under the micro planning efforts.
iv) Village Education Register:
Based on the household surveys, one can develop a village education
register clearly indicating the households which are not sending children to
the schools. This will help us to adopt
corrective measures to encourage the parents of these households to send their
children to schools.
v) The village may have a school. If the village has a school then one has to relate the efforts
made during the micro planning exercises with the facilities available at the
vi) Preparation of a Village Education Plan : Once the community
inputs and the school inputs are identified then it is possible to prepare a
village education plan focussing on the specific educational problems faced at
the household level and at the school level.
Preparation of such plans and monitoring of activities thus identified
in a village plan make micro planning
exercise an effective tool in making the best use of the resources
available at the local level.
One of the major questions in micro-planning is: who will
initiate a micro-planning exercise?
Unfortunately, there cannot be a single answer to this question. The pattern may be varying in different
localities, given their specific feature.
The co-operation from the elected representatives, functionaries and
people at large are essential.
Therefore the organizational arrangement need to evolve locally, rather
than super-imposed from outside the village.
A common pattern found in areas where micro planning exercises are
seriously initiated is to form a core group consisting of different segments of
population of the village, orient them to the idea and help them in the initial
stages, to organize some of the activities under the micro planning exercises.
Finally it is important to distinguish school mapping
from micro-planning although they are exercises complementary to each other.