This report was published in The Times of India on 27/03/2023
Primary students in aided, government high schools and higher secondary (HS) schools under the district panchayat receive lesser support compared to their counterparts in government primary schools managed by grama panchayats, says a study by Kochi-based think tank, Centre for Socio-Economic Studies (CSES).
The study on decentralisation in Kerala’s school education has found that one of the reasons for the undesirable prioritization is the societal perception that student performance in board examinations is the yardstick of school quality.
In a system where all students are given promotion up to Class IX, only Class X (SSLC) examinations receive public attention.
The study led by CSES director N Ajith Kumar recommends that some panchayat-led initiatives for primary school students could be extended to students in primary sections of government higher secondary schools, with the financial support of district panchayats.
“The organic connection between panchayats and primary schools is generally missing in case of district panchayats and secondary schools. One option is to bring government high and HS schools under grama panchayats and develop them as knowledge hubs of a locality,” it said.
A budget analysis of sample local governments for 2018-19 to 2021-22 period reveals that local governments must improve the efficiency of utilizing funds for education. Only two- thirds of the funds earmarked for education by the sample grama panchayats and half of those allocated for education by the sample block panchayats and district panchayats were used.
More than half of the funds earmarked for education by local bodies is spent as state share of the centrally-sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha and the state-level scheme for providing educational scholarships to students with disabilities.