We propose significant changes to the administrative reforms suggested in the draft document of the New Education Policy: simplify and put the focus on core functions.
We propose a clear separation between learning (green) and schooling (red).
All learning-related actors should solely be responsible for academic tasks. No administrative tasks shall be conducted by them. The interface with the administrative chain (red) must be regularized and limited to learning-related actors demanding resources to fulfil their functions. Demands for data and other assignments in the reverse direction (from administration to learning-related actors) will be prohibited. Only clearly stated activities, e. g. for cooperation for child-labor related projects with outside departments, will be permitted. This will be done in the form of a whitelist which will explicitely state what is allowed. Everything else is prohibited.
All schooling-related actors shall ensure a smooth functioning of the administrative machinery. To avoid the current practice of irregular interaction with outside departments at the Block and lower levels, a regularized interface at the District level shall be created. This ICT-based interface will allow other departments to interact and will shield lower levels from being assigned tasks they are not supposed to fulfil.
The entire communication between schooling-related actors shall be digitalized. No paper shall be used any more. All administrative actors will be equipped with electronic signatures.
Data collection will be consolidated and regularized. Currently, ad-hoc orders request data in an unregular and inefficient manner. Similar data is captured in various formats at different points of time. This must end. Instead, all data collection exercises shall be consolidated. Any new data collection requests will need a justification and permission from the State or District level.
Orders must be limited. Faddism and ad-hoc changes have harmed the functioning of the administrative apparatus as well as schools. Therefore, schools and lower levels of the administrative chain must be protected from unnecessary orders. A centralized data pool will make most requests unnecessary. Instead, data can be obtained without any time-lag from the central pool.
Roles and responsibilities must be clear and compressed. Elaborative descriptions and overlapping responsibilities harm efficiency and accountability. The principle must be to keep things simple and to focus on core functions.
We propose a new post at the Complex level: an administrator. The administrator will take care of all administrative tasks of the schools. S/he will visit the schools of a Complex frequently, collect all required data and put it into the digital database. S/he will be equipped with a motorbike and a tablet computer. S/he will also have the duty to look after the administration of the mid-day meal. Funds can be drawn from SMSA (Para 6.6.5 a) iv)) which stipulates one accountant-cum-support staff for 50 schools. The number of schools should be amended to be in sync with the size of a Complex.
The administrator will take over administrative tasks of the HM and teachers. The HM and teachers will not have to handle entitlements anymore. These will be replaced by Direct-Benefit Transfers (DBT) and handled by the administrator. No money or entitlements will be administered by either teachers or HMs.
A Single-Window-System shall be installed to speed up infrastructure provision (on current issues regarding fundflows, see this illustrated example from the National Health Mission).
HMs will mainly focus on school leadership, teaching support and cooperation with SMCs. Looking after the MDM and administrative tasks will be taken over by the administrator at the Complex level.
The academic chain QC <-> BRPs <-> CRP must be trained to systematically track learning levels. They must be analyzed at school, Complex, Block and District level. Data visualization is key to make things comprehensible. Based on the analysis, the QC together with the DIET shall set priorities for in-service training in each District. According to these priorities, the DIET shall design modules. For every academic year, a range of modules shall be offered. Teachers will be able to register for modules via an ICT-based system. This allows for choice and individual priorities at the teacher level but is more realistic than comprehensive teacher development plans. Those might ultimately only be another sheet of paper to be filled up.
One thing is clear: ICT and technology can be helpful to limit the administrative burden and to make things more efficient. But this requires two things: Massive retraining efforts for the existing staff and filling all vacancies in the two chains outlined above. Technology without adequate staffing will not solve the problem (on this point, see this and this).
Block Education Officers are expected to become leaders in the New Education Policy Draft. Their perception is in sharp contrast to this envisaged role (see this excellent study). It will therefore require a major overhaul of the recruitment and training process of this staff and a reorientation of those who are already posted. This reorientation and training must either be conducted in an existing institute at the State level or in a newly established training institute. It will be a major task to uplift the esprit de corps of the existing officers. But this will be required to rejuvenate these crucial units at the Block level.
Our suggestions are realistic but radical. Without a major restructuring and a proper staffing of the school governance architecture, any reform efforts are bound to fail. Our simplifications and clarifications can ensure that they will succeed.