The Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan aims to adopt a holistic approach on school education. Thus, the Centre now wants to open pre-schools in the country—after having merge the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the Rashtra Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and the teachers’ education schemes. Given how the government already runs anganwadi centres, the HRD ministry is evaluating if anganwadi workers can be trained to teach pre-school children or new teachers have to be recruited, as per The Times of India. Getting rid of the segmented approach to school education policy should prove a blessing, especially in tackling high middle-school dropout ratios.
The Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan will also be incentivising states—there will be performance-linked grants—to work towards certain goals identified by the Centre, including improving learning outcomes and rationalising teacher redeployment. States, on their part, are starting to look at improving various indicators of the soundness of their school education policies. Some are taking large strides while others are taking measured but sure-footed steps. Karnataka, for instance, has asked school teachers to work on improving student strengths at their schools or be prepared to receive transfer orders—the state’s department of primary and secondary education had recently found that 261 lower primary schools and 57 higher primary schools in the state had no admissions in the past academic year. Apart from incentivising teachers with cash awards for improving learning outcomes, Punjab is also rolling out a `900 crore smart school project that will equip 2,800 primary and secondary schools with laptops, projectors and high-speed internet. A similar project is in the offing in Madhya Pradesh, with the aim of digitally enabling teaching in 15,000 middle-schools. The Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan could spur more such steps by the states as they compete for the central incentives. Students, however, could end up the big winner.