For education, the new Niti Aayog Index could become a game-changer

Niti Aayog’s School Education Quality Index (SEQI)

  • NITI Aayog recently released the School Education Quality Index (SEQI) 2019 report.
  • SEQI was developed to evaluate the performance of States and Union Territories (UTs) in the school education sector.
  • The index aims to bring an outcomes focus to education policy by identify strengths and weaknesses of States and thereby, undertake requisite course corrections or policy interventions to improve the quality of school education.
  • The index seeks to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices across States and UTs, thereby promoting competitive and cooperative federalism.

SEQI could be a game-changer for education:

  • SEQI has the potential to be a game-changer for improvement in education in India.
  • The index recognizes the importance of State-level leadership for improving outcomes,as education is a subject in Concurrent List.
  •  By laying out a road map paired with increased accountability from states, we now have the potential to bring focus to quality education.

How it could help bring change in education:

  • The index shifts emphasis from solely measuring inputs to measuring both inputs and outcomes of the education system.
  • It provides a clear direction to state governments in their efforts to ensure quality education by defining success metrics.
  • Most importantly, it adopts a systemic view of education reform by stressing both improvements in academics as well as governance processes related to learning, access, equity, and infrastructure.
    • Most surveys in the past have been focused on either access or learning outcomes.
    • In contrast, SEQI measures 33 indicators to gauge the effectiveness of the school education system, 14 of which are related to governance processes.
    • This acknowledges the interconnectedness of the two important pillars of change – academics and governance processes.
  • Example of teacher transfers:
    • Studies show that teachers must make as many as 40 trips to state headquarters for their transfers in the absence of an online transfer system.
    • Given its process and outcomes focus, the priority will be to put new processes in place to reduce that number.
    • This, in turn, will positively affect learning.

SEQI can do to education what EoDB did to business:

  • SEQI can potentially achieve in education what the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Index has achieved in business activity.
  • Case of ease of business improvement through Index and Ranking:
    • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) adapted the global EoDB index to India’s federal structure by introducing state rankings under its Make in India initiative.
    • In 2016, it released a 340-point Business Reform Action Plan (BRAP) with 58 regulatory processes spanning the life cycle of a business that needed improvement.
    • Each year, states are ranked based on their performance in improvement with respect to each of these processes.
    • The results of this exercise have been astounding. Within a year of its rollout, the average implementation by all states of the BRAP stood at 48.93%, a significant jump from 2015’s national average of 32%.
    • In addition, 12 states achieved a greater than 90% implementation score. This improvement was also reflected in the India’s stellar improvement in the global index rankings.
  • SEQI has adopted a similar approach to the EoDB index.
Image result for new education policy

SEQI identified and measures important parameters for education system:

  • SEQI has clearly identified process enablers for quality education, such as 
    • Good quality assessment data
    • Teacher availability in schools
    • A transparent system of teacher allocation
    • Teacher training
    • School level planning
  • These enablers form the very base of a well-functioning education system, without which it is difficult for any public education system to deliver consistently on quality.
  • In laying out these metrics and creating a two-fold ranking system, SEQI has provided an actionable tool for state governments to undertake educational improvements and work toward consistent school quality.

Attempts to improve accountability of states:

  • SEQI also promises to increase the accountability of states to invest in measuring their own progress.
  • The National Assessment Survey (NAS), which is being used to account for learning outcomes under SEQI, may also benefit from the added analysis by states.
  • As SEQI begins to provide rankings, and inputs and outcomes start to become clearer, this data holds promise to become a rich source of knowledge for decision-makers as they focus on policy actions that can achieve the highest impact in their respective areas.

Conclusion

Evaluating education and taking steps to improve is a complex process:

  • Evaluating performance in education is incredibly complex.
  • The absence of a clear action plan, the contradictory opinions on the nature of reforms, and an inability to conclusively measure improvements and outcomes have discouraged efforts towards improvement.

SEQI helps identify lapses and direct actions:

  • SEQI, with its clear clarification of desired actions and intended impact, is well positioned to overcome these barriers.
  • It is poised to bring focus to quality education by facilitating cross learning between states and fostering a competitive spirit to motivate improvement.

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