The RTE Act of India (The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education) is an act to provide for free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years. It is a detailed guideline about what all factors impact education and what are the minimum prescribed requirements for imparting a standard level of education to all the children in this age group. The act details the requirements mainly for the elementary school education, i.e. from first class to eighth class. Though it is quite thorough and gives several guidelines about all the factors involved in education, these requirements are not met in a large number of schools in India.
Concept of Adopt a School:
The idea is to create a system where schools can be analyzed based on several parameters that impact the quality of education imparted at a school. One the system is in place, and we have the necessary data, we can assign priorities to each of the metrics and generate overall scores for each school. It would be easier for us to show some data to those who wish to help by actually letting them know which is the weakest of the schools in their vicinity. It might just help in raising the standard of the most underprivileged schools first, this narrowing the gap between the different standards of different public schools.
Factors that affect the standard of education:
There are several factors that impact the standard of education, For example, student to teacher ratio is a major factor in judging the quality of teaching at a school and has a direct impact on what the students learn. Then come parameters like qualifications of the teachers, as this has a direct connection to them being able to impart proper education. There are several factors associated with this parameter, like number of graduate teachers, number of teaching staff holding multiple degrees. Then come infrastructural factors like student to desks ratio, number of students to classrooms ratio, other facilities, etc that can help judge the status and quality of a school.
The RET act states the minimum requirements about number of teachers, infrastructure and other facilities in its gazette - http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/RTEAct.pdf [Page 12 onwards]
The initial plan is to allow the volunteers to submit one standardized form which covers all basic aspects of a well run school. It might help us rate the schools in the order of most underprivileged to most privileged. This would at the same time make it easier for the volunteers by just having to fill blanks on a form or select one of the multiple choices. Also, this would make the early adopters find out exactly what is lacking from the input formats and provide more valuable feedback.
The long term objective is to crowd-source the information that this system can use. We have an objective to involve ordinary citizens into this project. We want to enable people who have not acquired any special skill set to be able to use this application. The application interface can be either web or mobile or both. Both have their own advantage as users find it easier to add text data over the web, but images can be captured and added to the application relatively easily over the mobile interface.
The project is currently in a brainstorming stage. We are looking for people to join us in mapping out the structure for this project as well as start the implementation. There are a number of surveys including census, ASER, PROBE, Annual survey's of education, etc. that provide statistics on education from many different perspectives. We are still analyzing these sources and come up with a definitive list of metrics that we can use to rate the schools and the standard of education they impart.
Here are some of the key challenges we have identified:
1. A key challenge in developing a comparative metrics system would be on getting feedback from some of the worst schools - that would inevitably be in socially remote areas. How to reach them - and what kind of devices will volunteers in the area have to provide the feedback.
2. Besides comparing various metrics to identify the schools in the worst state, there has to be a mechanism for engagement with the students and parents to lead to action points that are meaningful to them. We also need to engage with the teachers, identify their problems and help them do their job better.
A Planning Tool for Performance Monitoring
The National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), established by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, is a premier organization dealing with capacity building and research in planning and management of education not only in India but also in South Asia.
It was seen that the educational statistics collected by the states were not only inadequate to meet the growing needs of the decentralized planning but were characterized by inordinate delays, highly aggregative and were not amenable to validation and reliability tests. Since school statistics formed the core of educational statistics, it was rightly recognized that major reforms in school statistics both in terms of their scope and coverage as well as availability and use have to be carried out. To solve this pain point, the District Information System for Education (DISE) was created.
However, the data available on these websites and agencies isn’t easily accessible and have not contributed to the public debate on education in India, or spread awareness in individual districts about their district’s performance. We also don’t know how far each district and school is from fulfilling the goals of the right to education program, and what particular indicators are lacking, and thus, finally, what is needed to bridge the gap.
The Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University wants the hackathon attendees to attempt to develop a planning tool that can solve the pain points mentioned above. This can be through visualizations based on the data on the websites above as applets or mobile apps, and district based reporting mechanisms which help the citizens get involved with their district’s metrics, and demand better results! This planning tool can also be used to compare actual data from these districts with the expected performance and criteria listed in the Right to Education bill, and evaluate the best methods to improve and build compliance into the system.
Project Idea by Karl Mehta
- Shishir Kinkar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Noorain (email@example.com)
- Roshan Shankar - roshankar [at] gmail [dot] com
- Jyotsna Jha (jhajyots [at] gmail [dot] com)