ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Primary Education

A recent workshop sought to identify persistent "trouble spots" in the primary education school system in states of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. As it appears, top-down assistance is only one factor among many others that distinguishes a better performing school from a non-performing one. Other vital factors that raised the â??qualityâ? of schooling related to issues of decentralisation and autonomy, the quality of teaching as well as initiatives taken to educate less privileged children.

Debating Quality and Quantity

H ow do primary school teachers view their own professional responsibility, accountability, as well as professional autonomy in making and implementing school-related academic decisions? How do they deal with the challenge of motivating the first-generation learner from whom they often have a huge social distance? In what specific ways do the recent reform initiatives in primary education, such as the DPEP, SSA, the mid-day meal programme, the external evaluation of primary grade students, and the involvement of the neighbourhood/community in school affairs through Village Education Committees (VECs), Ward Education Committees (WECs) and Mother Teacher Associations (MTAs) help the teachers and the street-level education bureaucracy to deal with the task at hand, namely, to improve the quantity as well as quality of primary education? Amidst these diverse decentralisation initiatives, is it possible to envisage a new role for the centre, that is to say, for the supra-local officials at the state and central government levels, in providing necessary professional and other kinds of assistance and inputs to teachers and local officials, without eclipsing local innovations, autonomy and initiatives? Against the backdrop of the recently introduced myriad government school reforms, how do we begin to comprehend the phenomenon of growing popularity of private schools both elite and budget among parents?

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