A Research Proposal
Education and Socio-economic Mobility
in the Long-term Transformation of Rural India
Subject: Research Methodology
Education: Expectation and Reality
The increasing expectation toward education (and getting ‘qualifications’ and ‘English’ ability) is visible almost all over India, even among those who have not been able to access to education. New schools, especially so-called ‘public’ schools, recognized and un-recognized, are being set up, and the enrolment ratio at the primary level have reached almost 100% (in some states, over 100%), though the drop-put ratio at primary level is still alarmingly high in some states. But do we have enough data to think the results and reality of this enthusiasm and expectations? For example, Are those who have some years (5ys, 10ys, 12ys…) of schooling actually getting good (better) jobs in the labour market where most of jobs are still in ‘informal sector’ and do not require strict educational qualification? Is there any actual difference of job opportunity and income according to the different type of schooling? Although it is widely recognized that the indicators relating to education, such as literacy and schooling years, are closely connected with regional development (such as income level, diversification of economic activities, family planning and welfare, so on), and macro level statistics of these indicators are available, it does not mean that we have accurate understanding about how it happens and who are the winners/losers in this process. The available statistics still are not enough to understand the reality between education and socio-economic mobility in rural India. Aims:-
What we are trying in this project is to create a kind of data set, focusing on:- 1. From abstract ‘education’ to concrete ‘schools’, 2. Connecting schooling to income and economic activities at household level, 3. Mapping of various data so that we could understand regional patterns and disparities. Point 1: Systems
Colonial background of Indian education with relatively well organized higher (English medium) level and scanty condition of primary to middle level with big regional disparities have made the system plural, if not fragmented. This trend has been further accelerated by the educational policies after independence. The need to develop human resources tended to put priorities in higher education, especially that of science, besides the policy focus on primary to middle level was ‘to spread’, stressing quantity than quality, inclining to welfare programs rather than integrated educational systems.
Point 1: Systems 2
After the introduction of ‘Education for All’ in the mid-80s, especially from 90s onwards, the various ‘reforms’ have been promoted in primary to middle level schools. But most of the reforms are to ‘add’ new types of ‘reformed’ school, to make the system more complicated, rather than to reshape the system itself. Educational system has ‘inertia’ everywhere in the world and Indian government, both of central and state, are not ‘strong’ enough to regulate various vested interests. One of the best examples might be the recent arguments on ‘unrecognized schools’ in Delhi. Point 1: Systems 3
Privatization of various levels and forms has been accelerated since the 90s to meet people’s educational demands. It includes huge investment of foreign and domestic capitals to a tiny ‘public’ schools set up at backyard of private houses. Government has also introduced new approaches, including tie-up with NGOs. Thus, the actors in educational systems have been considerably widened. Point 1: Systems Point 1: Systems 4
It is no doubt that these changes have mobilized aspirations of people, but at the same time, 1. ‘School choice’, largely depending on resources and information the parents can utilize, become more important. There is a good possibility to widen disparity at household/individual, as well as regional levels.
2. it may result in vast wastage of resources, both of government as well as household/individual level, unless schooling is properly connected to labourmarket
Point 2: schools Thus, one of our points is ‘school’ rather than education as an abstract concept. The basic data of size (number of pupils and teachers), year of establishment, category (government, aided, non –aide) have become available, though coverage is not 100% by School Report Cards recently started by NUEPA. But most of un-recognized schools are out of reach. Tentative hypothesis is the presence of aided private (public) schools, such as mission schools with relatively larger in size and stable management, holds up the standard of other schools in the localities . Point 3: job opportunity and placement
How school education is actually connected to job opportunity is still a myth, especially those who attend school but below 12thstandard (SLC). As the system is quite disintegrated, the value of school education of 8thto 12thstandard for those who are not intending to proceed higher education is vulnerable unless it can give a better opportunity in labourmarket. Similarly, the value of qualifications such as diploma and any certificate of training should be tested. I hope that the colleagues collect data which show how schooling is counted (or not counted) in recruitment process of local factories, shops, government offices, so on. Point 4: access to information
From wider view point, education is a part of ‘penetration of information’ of rural India, not a mere gateway to diversification of income. From where, and through which channels, people are getting meaningful information for their agricultural and other economic and political activities? Information relates to many factors: spread of radios, TVs, cinemas, then mobile phones, activities of the government/NGOs, migration, etc. We also try to grasp the spread of print-media, local newspapers and popular magazines. Beside circulation data from INS, readership data of each newspaper/ magazine from National Readership Survey will be useful. Mapping data
Our final hope is to map these various data into one, so that we could understand regional pattern of development (or non-development). As education is a double edged tool for mobility by nature, and the qualification and ability required in the globalized world is more ‘good-starter-good result’ type, the simple expectation that education brings more chances to the weaker section is misleading. We wish to understand the situation more precisely. From Japanese view point: National Education and beyond
Indian experience is a big challenge in modern school system from view point of Japanese. Japanese educational system after the WW II has been highly standardized, almost uniform all over Japan. It is true that this system has been acting as an crucial factor of human resource development, economic growth, and social stabilization, but its firmness and standardized nature has become major bottle neck in the era of globalization. In China, on the contrary, highly stratified system with very strong government/party control has been posed. After the introduction of liberalization policy, this system combined with privatization has brought excessive competition. Comparing to Japan and China, Indian system(s) is characterized by ‘weak’ control of the government. It means, in one sense, people have much freedom and choice, as well as much more disparity and risk in education. If India could somehow promote universalization of education and create a society (or societies) in which people can believe mobility and ‘equal’ opportunity in education, it will be a really unique achievement in the history of modern education. Watching the current ‘noisy’ but lively situation, I personally begin to believe that co-existence of various (or fragmented) channels will mobilize aspiration of people, and Indian way of modern education system will be shaped in the future.