The STARS Project Needs a Revamp | UPSC

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IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 30 June 2020

“No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist.” –Anonymous

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020.

EDITORIAL HUNT 96 :“The STARS Project Needs a Revamp | UPSC

The STARS Project Needs a Revamp | UPSC

KIRAN BHATTY

Kiran Bhatty is Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, and Martin Haus is an independent researcher working on public sector reforms

      HEADLINES:

The STARS project needs an overhaul

      CENTRAL THEME:

Instead of building state capability, the World Bank education project gives a larger role to non-state actors

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Education

      MAINS QUESTION:

Should money be invested in improving the capability of the system to improve learning or in testing infrastructure. Critically Comment  -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Education vs Technology
  • World bank Stars Project
  • Loopholes
  • Way Forward

      INTRODUCTION: 

  • Atmanirbhar Bharat calls for an India that is able to produce and deliver local goods and services to its citizens.
  • This applies equally to education for all children.

Delivering a service, like education, requires a capable state, especially given the scale and complexity of its large and diverse population.

  • STATE CAPABILITY : Building state capability involves a process of learning to do things on one’s own.
  • Fundamentally, therefore, it cannot be outsourced.

  State capability is about getting things done in the government by ensuring effective implementation.

WORLD BANK’S STARS PROJECT

  • The World Bank’s STARS project, a $3 billion project to improve education in six Indian States, has the mistaken understanding that state capability should be built by giving a larger role to non-state actors and by increasing the use of technology.

Both these premises are misguided as they do not contribute to the capability of the state to deliver better education.

  • The reason is that there are some preconditions for effective governance within the public sector that must be met before either technology or non-state actors can be useful.

      BODY: 

FOR EFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE

  • ADMINISTRATIVE TOOLS : The administration must be equipped with adequate physical, financial and human resources.
  • OVERBURDENED BUREAUCRACY : An overburdened bureaucracy with vacancies and without basic equipment cannot be expected to be effective.
  • JUDICIOUS USE OF RESOURCES : Often one hears that increasing inputs is a waste of resources as they are used inefficiently.
  • PRECONDITIONS : This criticism neglects the fact that for efficiency, a critical minimum level of resources is a precondition.

  Unfortunately, in the education sector we are short of that level in all areas.

  • DISCRETIONARY POWER : Governance reforms must give greater discretion to the front-line bureaucracy to address local issues and innovate if required.
  • DECENTRALISATION : This is as much a function of better resources at the local level as of greater decentralisation of decision-making or political authorisation.
  • TOWARDS ACCOUNTABILITY : The movement against corruption and towards accountability has had an unfortunate fallout on innovation for fear of misuse of an increased room for manoeuvre.
  • TRUST WITHIN THE SYSTEM : There needs to be trust within the administration among peers and across different levels within the administration.
  • SUSPICIOUS ARRANGEMENTS : If suspicion is the guiding principle, institutional arrangements will be geared to monitoring and surveillance, not support and improvement.

  The goal must be to improve, not to judge and punish.

A FLAWED APPROACH

STARS FAILS TO ADDRESS THE BASIC CAPACITY ISSUES

  • VACANCIES : major vacancies across the education system from District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), district and block education offices, to teachers in schools, remain unaddressed.
  • MOTIVATION LAG : Without capable and motivated faculty, teacher education and training cannot be expected to improve.
  • INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT : An already overburdened bureaucracy cannot be expected to perform miracles without a substantial increase in trained manpower, support staff and other forms of institutional support.
  • DEVOLUTION OF FUNDS : Bank ignores that decentralising decision-making requires the devolution of funds and real decision-making power.
  • SURVEILLANCE : Greater decentralisation can allow accountability to flow to the people rather than to supervising officers.
  • THE RIGHT INVESTMENT : It requires not just investment in the capacity of the front-line bureaucracy but also in increasing their discretionary powers while fostering social accountability.
  • OVER RELIANCE ON ICT : Instead, the Bank displays yet again an over-reliance on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a panacea that lacks any backing in evidence.
  • TECHNOLOGICAL GAPS : In fact, technology does not address most of the systemic or governance challenges; it simply bypasses them.

      IASbhai Windup: 

Schools in India need improvement.

  • DEVELOPING SKILLS : While state structures need to develop more skills to enable them to solve both local and structural problems more effectively.
  • REFORMS : In its current form, STARS is bound to fail to deliver its core objective: to reform the governance architecture in order to improve the quality of education.

Lastly, outsourcing basic governance functions by “expanding private initiatives” and “reducing government tasks” will not make education “more relevant to local needs” .

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL | The STARS Project Needs a Revamp | UPSC

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