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More in education as fundamental right



Just received from Madhav. (posted a little while ago but this bounced for
some reason...)

***************************************************************************
Sanjeev,

Here is some more food for thought (and action). We have started 
planning in Maharashtra, can happen in 5 other states. Yardsticks of 
accountability and litigation are covered in this plan.

The following draft is being circulated to partners in the National 
Alliance for the Fundamental Right to Education. At this time, this is a 
part of Pratham thinking alone. Other states will respond and then we 
will know.

Madhav
-------------------------
Activating People for the
 Realization of the Fundamental Right to Education :

 (A Plan for the National Alliance)

 Activation of People on Large Scale is needed :

 The experience of Pratham, above all, underscores the need and the
 possibility of involving large numbers of people from the underprivileged
 sections in implementing large-scale schemes while also impacting
 governmental functioning.  The Bodh Shiksha Samiti of Jaipur has a
similar
 experience in a relatively backward urban area. In the rural settings,
the
 MV Foundation has succeeded in bringing over 50,000 children into schools
 while working with parents and employers of child labor in Andhra
Pradesh.
 They too have concluded that improving formal schooling and providing
 support services outside school while working with parents is effective
in
 dealing with the problem of child labor. Pratham and MV Foundation, are
 clearly united on the view that effective, joyful learning in schools can
 combat the problem of child labor and dropouts. The Eklavya organization
in
 Madhya Pradesh has not concentrated on people+s mobilization but has
 considerable experience in educational innovations and holds similar
views. 

 All of the above grass-roots organizations are now very keen on working
 together on a national scale, to take their experience to other parts of
the
 country in order to promote similar initiatives including UP. Bihar, the
 North-Eastern states. 

 Funding agencies such as CRY, Aga Khan Foundation, National Foundation
for
 India, and others too have been feeling the need to impact the system. 
Many
 of us hoped that small projects could create models for the governmental
 agencies to replicate. This has not happened partly due to apathy of the
 system, partly due to non-replicable features of the models, and perhaps
 because nobody really tried. Most of these agencies also feel that
  scattered commitments do not lead to any impact-making work. 

 Lager agencies such as the European Union and the World Bank have been
 funding the District Primary Education Project in nearly half of India+s
 districts. The progress of these projects is said to be not so
satisfactory
  mainly because of failure to activate/ nvolve people in implementing the
 program. UNICEF has long held that system-wide changes are needed and is
not
 very pleased with the rate of progress in many regions. 

 Within the government too there is a strong feeling that without
activating
 people/ parents, no major changes are likely. 

 The need for activation of people is acute and clear to all. 


 The National Alliance Can Provide Leadership : 

 At the National Conference on the Fundamental Right to Education
organized
 by Pratham in Delhi on April 24-25, three major political figures (Dr. 
 Manmohan Singh, Ms. Uma Bharati -State Minister for HRD, and Rajesh
Pilot),
 while agreeing that education should be THE top priority of the nation,
 stated that the lack of political will among the politicians was a
 reflection of the lack of will among the people themselves. If people
showed
 the will, the politicians would follow. The same sentiment was echoed by
Mr.
 Padmanabhaiya, Ms. Kiran Bedi, and Justice Seth (Law Commission). Dr. 
 Manmohan Singh spent nearly three hours with the delegates and explained
how
 money could be raised for education by adopting various measures
including
 cutting wastage. Later, publicly and in private he agreed to help in
forming
 a forum of MP s of different parties in the Parliament to further the
cause
 of the Fundamental Right to Education. 

 At the end of the Conference, it was clear to all delegates present that
 mobilization of people on a large-scale to assert the Fundamental Right
to
 Education was essential. 

 On April 23, 1998 all of the above-mentioned organizations (except the
 World Bank) gathered together and resolved to form themselves into a
 National Alliance for the Children+s Fundamental Right to Education.  The
 founding partners, while agreeing to work bilaterally or multilaterally
on
 projects, plans and schemes drawn-up in the Alliance, have suggested that
 ICICI should coordinate and lead the effort. The Government of India,
 Education Secretary and the Joint Secretary are appreciative of the
 Alliance. 

 These developments put the National Alliance in a position of leadership
on
 a national scale. They clearly want to lead from the front and are
willing
 to work with each other. 



 How to lead from the front? 

 A leader must provide a vision and a path that leads to the realization
of
 that vision. In providing the macro vision, the leader should not get
bogged
 down by micro-difficulties which must be sorted out. At the same time, a
 macro-vision which is insensitive to the micro-issues can lead to
 bureaucratic functioning doomed to fail in the long run. 

 In the current context, we must provide a vision of being able to achieve
a
 goal of +every Indian child in school and learning by 2005+.  If this
seems
 a bit too audacious, I must say that in 1994, for a small group to think
of
 universalization of primary education in Mumbai by 2000 was equally
 audacious, but we have progressed considerably. The temptation to do
 "whatever little we can" is likely to be very strong. However, we should
 overcome this temptation. 

 Some calculations : 

 The Pratham calculation of operating with about 1% of the education
budget
 of the Municipal Corporation to catalyze the whole system was thought of
 even before actual programs were worked out. A similar exercise can be
 carried out to project a ball-park figure of expenditure. Nationally, it
is
 estimated that an annual expenditure of Rs. 8,000 crores would be needed
to
 provide education for every Indian child. This means that the catalytic
 figure would be around Rs. 80-100 crore or so annually, at the peak of
the
 program after about 3 years. 

 This entire sum cannot come from industry and donors alone. 
International
 agencies and the government can perhaps pick up 2/3 of the cost or more.
 There can be other ways of raising funds. 

 The funding arrangements need not be centralized. In fact fund-raising
and
 utilization can both be decentralized through bilateral or multi-lateral
 arrangements brought about by a facilitating body such as the National
 Alliance. 

 A Simple Vision : 

 Solution of the most complex problem often comes with a simplification of
 the problem.  How to ensure that every child goes to school and learns? 

 If every village Panchayat and every urban community were to be activated
in
 implementing the Fundamental Right it would be implemented. Afterall,
83rd
 Amendment or not, the Supreme Court has ruled that education is a
 fundamental right of every child up to the age of 14. 

 In the 1930's Gandhiji picked up a fistful of salt and so did the nation.
A
 new challenge was. The action was preceded by wide dissemination of broad
 information about the injustice heaped by the salt tax. Each one could
pick
 up some salt. This was followed by the non-cooperation movement.  The
 Government was challenged. 

 Obviously running schools and getting children is not the same as picking
up
 salt. But there is an anti-parallel (!). 

 The Fundamental Right exists. Villagers or slum-communities can get
together
 and decide to implement it. Their optimum resource needs have to be met
by
 the Government. If these are not being met, the Alliance can talk to the
 Government- one village micro-plan at a time.. first in scores, then in
 hundreds, and by the end of 2000 in the thousands.  If the government
cannot
 meet the demand, we can supply some grants to start with but let people
also
 raise the issue in the Supreme Court. This democratic articulation can be
 facilitated by the Alliance. 

 This is an "advocacy" of a different kind. It does not rely on
"lobbying". 
 It looks at every micro-reality against the backdrop of the Supreme Court
 judgement. It encourages people to find solutions while supplying some
 skills, know-how and catalytic finances... for a large number of
villages. 

 The question is, can villages actually resolve to implement the Right? 
Will
 they? Can they implement?  The experiences of MV Foundation and Pratham
 indicate that this is possible. The processes may differ. It may or may
not
 involve every person in a community, at least not in the beginning. But
over
 a period, when people see changes occurring, the movement will send loud
and
 clear signals. 

 To the question, "can this actually happen?", my reply is, tell me some
 other way that we can make large numbers of people actually get down to
 changing the reality. If there is another way, let us consider it. 

 I would call this the movement of cooperation. Helping the administration
 implement what is fundamentally guarenteed ...  It is a movement because
 "unwanted" cooperation can be perhaps more threatening to those in
control
 (and inert), than the non-cooperation movement in India today. 



 A Plan to Start Work : (this can be summarised and modified, expanded
later) 

 It is possible to implement the following short-term test plan almost
 immediately : 

 Objective : Have at least 1000 villages resolve and being to implement
 "every child in school and learning" by November 14, 1998. 

 Goals : 
 o Disseminate information about the right to education, education
policies
 etc. Discuss various issues related to education in the village and
 encourage villagers to come up with solutions. 
 o Prepare micro-plan for ensuring education for every child with the help
of
 villagers. 
 o Have the village call a "gram-sabha" and pass the micro-plan. 
 o Operationalize the micro-plan with some financial assistance while also
 approaching the Government with legitimate expectations. 
 o Send each village micro-plan to CEO of the District and begin
implementing
 the micro-plan. In case reasonable financial expectations cannot be met,
 file a petition on behalf of the villagers against the government for
 violation of the fundamental right of the child. 
 o If financial and other needs of the micro-plan are met, proceed with
 implementation. 

 Strategy : 
 Work with groups of about 10 villages, 100 such groups mobilized by 100
 young people draen from the Alliance partners and other NGOs. 

 Project Area : 
 5 DPEP (World Bank Support/ EU Support) Districts, and 5 non-DPEP
districts
 spread in 5 or 10 states.  100 villages in one block (roughly the whole
 block/ or taluka) in one district. 

 Organisation : 
 Pick one block and one town/city each in Andhra, Maharashtra, UP, Bihar,
 Tamilnad, and one state in the North-east.  State coordinators of the
 Alliance could take a lead and develop their own model.  Cost in each
state
 could be borne by one or two funding agencies. 

 Direct Costs : (6 month period- August 15- Jan 26) : 

 For a group of 10 villages : 

 Honorarium for activist (max)  Rs. 3000 x 6 mo.  Rs.  18,000
 Traveling, postage, phone(STD)  Rs. 1000 x 6 mo.  Rs.  6,000
 *Village assistant one per village Rs.  500 x 6 mo. x 10 Rs.  30,000
 **Provisional grant to start
 implementation of micro-plan Rs.  10,000 per village Rs.  1,00,000

 Training and other overheads Rs.  10,000 Rs.  10,000
 (group of ten villages) 

 Total Rs. 16,400 per village Rs.  1,64,000

 For 100 groups of 10 villages each Rs.  1.64 cr. 
 for 6 months for 1000 villages

 * The village assistant may be an educated youth who will help in
starting
 an activity and also in organizing the villagers. 

 ** The provisional grant is purely so that some immediate needs can be
met
 and people are encouraged to move forward. Also, this can be tied to a
local
 fund or in-kind contribution by villages. 

  It may be noted here that except for the expenditure on an activists+
 expenses, the rest of the funds will be directly useful to the people/
 children of the village. 


 Possible Contributing agencies : 

 1. ICICI/ Pratham
 2. National Foundation for India
 3. CRY
 4. Aga Khan Foundation
 5. UNICEF
 6. Others