The success of programmes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is fairly visible today. They have reduced the number of children in the 6-14 age group who are out of school to about 5%. Though the quality of education remains a concern, particularly in rural areas, rapid increase in nrolment is a huge achievement given the countryâ€™s weak infrastructure. But enhanced nrolment at the primary level raises another issue: readiness of school infrastructure at the secondary level to cope with the rise in demand. So, the question for policymakers is how to carry forward this momentum in nrolment in the midst of the governmentâ€™s severe resource crunch.
Inadequate infrastructure is the biggest challenge. Enrollment at the secondary level is still very low, with large number of dropouts at each level. The quality of education delivery is a key contributing factor. This must be addressed in areas of curricular framework, classroom processes, teacher performance and so on.
The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), launched in 2009 to strengthen the secondary school infrastructure, was a correct step. Since the initiative by itself is not enough to secure the wider objective of universalisation of secondary education, the government has committed to the setting up of 6,000 model senior secondary schools. Of these, 2,500 are to be set up under the PPP model.
Fact is many PPP initiatives are already running successfully in India the area of education- both at primary and secondary level.
Bharti Groupâ€™s philanthropic arm Bharti Foundation, for instance, runs two PPPs in Rajasthan and Punjab. In Rajasthan, it has adopted 49 government elementary and primary schools. Similarly, at the secondary level, the foundation is running five senior secondary schools in Punjab under the Adarsh school programme. Under the scheme, while capital expenses are shared equally between government and the private partner, operational expenses are shared in a ratio of 70:30. It works out to 1,600 per month per child, with a provision for cost escalation of 5% every year.
Let us look at the three operational variants of the PPP model. The first one is a need-based intervention that requires the private partner to contribute in the areas of teachersâ€™ training and pedagogical processes. Ownership and management of the schools continue to be with the government. In the second, the private partner adopts an existing school and manages it on behalf of the government that funds the operations. The private partner funds teachersâ€™ training, pedagogical inputs, co-curricular activities, effective supervision and monitoring.
In the third variation, the private partner is not only required to construct the new school under a shared funding arrangement, but also manage it with partial operational cost support from the government. This alternative allows the private sector to be the best in terms of efficiency, besides helping ensure a strong accountability framework. Yet, the second option may emerge as the best since it facilitates the use of existing infrastructure effectively to deliver quality education.All successful PPPs are built around well-thought-out regulatory frameworks. Key Performance Indicators for the concessionaires must be simple to measure and be easily quantifiable. We also need tangible parameters whose assessment cannot be left to individual discretion. Targets and expectations set out in the concession agreement must be realistic and achievable. Only then will it attract the right private partners.
Questions to be answered:
Â· Explain in detail How the PPP model can help boost enrolment in secondary schools?