Effectiveness of academic support structures for elementary education in two Southern states of India.

Author:Tara, S. Nayana
Position:Report
  1. PREAMBLE

    A major emphasis was given to Universalization of Elementary Education in the National Policy on Education of 1986 (Government of India,1986). To achieve the goals laid down in the policy, an ambitious programme of District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) was launched in 1993. Retaining the basic goals of DPEP which were limited in scope was sought to be made more broad based and a major programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), was launched in 2001 (Government of India, 2000). The scope of SSA was enlarged to include upper primary grades. The broad features of SSA include:

    * providing access to all children in the age group 6-14 years through formal primary schools or through other equivalent alternative delivery means by 2003;

    * completion of five years of primary education by all children by 2007;

    * completion of eight years of elementary education by all children by 2010;

    * elementary education of satisfactory quality with emphasis on education for life

    * bridging all gender and social category gaps at primary stage by 2007 and at elementary education level by 2010

    The broad strategies adopted for achieving these goals were: thrust on quality by improving curriculum, child-centered activities and effective teaching learning initiatives, focus on teacher development and recognizing the critical and central role of teachers through setting up of Block Resource Centers (BRC) and Cluster Resource Centers (CRC). In accomplishing the avowed goals of SSA, BRCs and CRCs are visualized as the critical drivers in attaining high quality standards in the overall teaching-learning process at the school level. Huge financial allocations are made by the government on SSA which amounts to a staggering Rs.19320 Crores during 2008-09. Though in absolute terms, the share of outlay on BRCs and CRCs has steadily increased, the proportion of these outlays out of the total outlay for SSA has in fact decreased over the years. The percentage of expenditure on BRCs out of total outlay has dwindled from 2.05% in 2005-06 to a mere 0.55 % in 2008-09. A similar observation can be made with respect to CRCs. Further, trends in the proportion of expenditure incurred on BRCs and CRCs out of total expenditure under SSA also indicates a clear decline from 3.10% and 1.50% during 2005-06 to 1.91% and 1.52% in 2008-09 respectively (www.ssa.nic.in/page_portletlinks?foldername=financial-management)

  2. MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE

    Decentralized academic resource institutions in the form of Block Resource Centers (BRCs) and Cluster Resource Centers (CRCs) have been established across the country to enhance teachers' performance by providing them professional support. About 6395 Block Resource Centers (BRCs) and about 68352 Cluster Resource Centers (CRCs) have been established across the country. While there is a BRC in every block, there are several Cluster Resource Centers (CRCs) within a block, each covering a small number of schools within easy reach, so that they can remain in close contact with the teachers of the schools within their jurisdiction. The BRCs and CRCs are expected to function as vital centers for organizing in-service teacher training, and providing on-site support to teachers in schools and for helping in community mobilization. BRCs are headed by Block Resource Centre Co-coordinators (BRCCs) and CRCs by Cluster Resource Centre Co-coordinators (CRCCs). The BRC Co-coordinator is the academic co-coordinator / facilitator at block level responsible for in-service training of teachers, Village Education Committee (VEC) members etc. and providing guidance to the CRC Co-coordinators. They collect material from the District Project Office for distribution among the teachers, VECs etc. through CRCs and provide continuous support to the schools and VECs while monitoring the implementation of pedagogical and other interventions at school level. The tasks of CRCCs include providing constant support to the teachers, monitoring their performance, identifying their needs both in formal schools and alternative education centers and liaising with the VECs, the community and NGOs working in the area of education. Monthly meetings at cluster level are held and periodic visits to schools by CRCC are made to monitor teachers' performance and to provide them on-site support.

    The 8th Joint Review Mission comprising of representatives of the World Bank, DFID, European Commission, and Government of India looking into the academic roles of BRC/CRC clearly mentioned that the capacity building for BRC/CRC academic role is not sufficient and needs to be given a higher priority within the programme (SSA 8th JRM Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Government of India, 2008). This formed one of the bases for undertaking the study.

  3. STUDY OBJECTIVES

    The following are the major objectives of the study:

  4. To find out the role and functions of BRCs and CRCs as defined at the state level for both primary and upper primary level

  5. To find out to what extent the activities undertaken by BRCs, CRCs and resource persons are in accordance with their prescribed duties, and to assess their workload and time devoted to various activities/tasks.

  6. To assess the nature and extent of support given to BRCs and CRCs by District Institute of Educational Training (DIET)

  7. To study the mechanism of supervision of the work of BRCs and CRCs

  8. To find out the views of teachers, head teachers and VECs on the contribution made by BRCs and CRCs in improving the functioning of schools and SDMCs.

  9. To assess the on-site support given to schools and teachers by CRC...

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