Community Involvement in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan: An Assessment of the Village Education Committees in India

By Shankar, K. Girija | Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences, January-June 2008 | Go to article overview

Community Involvement in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan: An Assessment of the Village Education Committees in India


Shankar, K. Girija, Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences


Introduction

Since the Independence of our country, the Government of India has been striving hard to involve the community more and more in the system of administration and process of development. The establishment of Community Development Blocks in the 1st Five Year Plan and the creation of Panchayati Raj Institutions at Gram Panchayat, Block and District levels were the initial attempts to ensure community involvement especially in development and administration. During the first 25 years after the Independence, it was realized by the Government that the involvement of community has remained more on pen and paper than in the real system of administration and development. Some of the major reasons identified to explain this situation were: (1) high rate of illiteracy especially among the Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes and Women, (2) lack of any policy and programme to empower the community in respect of development and administration (3) non effectiveness of the system of devolution of power etc. This realization led the Government to give more emphasis upon ensuring functional participation of community in administration and development. Hence the Government enacted the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 to confer constitutional status on the Panchayati Raj Institutions and thereby made it mandatory to involve community in the process of development and administration. Since then, in all kinds of development programmes, involvement of community has been taken up as an integral component. During 1990s, in the field of education, a few programmes like Lok Jumbish, Education Guarantee Scheme and District Primary Education Programme were implemented involving the community and the experience gained from these programmes reinforced that community can play a significant role in education. Keeping in view the vision of the Constitution (73rd and 74th Amendment) Act, 1992 and the output of these programmes, the Government of India launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a nationwide, time bound educational programme to promote elementary education by involving community at various levels and in an institutionalized manner to sustain their involvement.

In Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, several kinds of community based institutions have been involved such as Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Mother Teacher Association (MTA), Village Education Committee (VEC) and Gram Panchayat. The VEC has the most significant role to play in implementing SSA at the grassroots level. This paper has delineated (i) the role and responsibilities given to VEC (ii) discussed the various steps taken in different States so far for the capacity building of the VECs; (iii) presented the critical assessment made by the Monitoring Institutions regarding the functioning of VECs; and (iv) suggested a few corrective measures to improve the quality and quantum of community involvement through VECs in SSA.

Role and Responsibilities of VEC under SSA

Structurally VEC is the executive body of a school and is represented by some members. The number and kind of members that make a VEC is State--specific and hence defined by each State Government separately. In different contexts, functionally equivalent to VEC, some other institutions also exist. For instance, the Parent Teacher Association in Madhya Pradesh, the School Management Committee (SMC) in Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh, the Vidayalay Shiksha Samiti (VSS) in Bihar, the School Development and Management Committee (SDMC) in Karnataka and Rajasthan, and the Ward Education Committee (WEC) in urban areas of West Bengal functionally play the same role under SSA as is played by the VEC in other places of the country. Under SSA, the VECs have been bestowed with several tasks, the important among them are as follows:

(i) Receipt and utilization of all the grants given under SSA following the guidelines and keeping records of all kinds of expenditures made out of these grants. …

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