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Sub-committees to recommend ways of school improvement: But are such committees really needed?
"We have got into the culture of forming committees even on the apparent issues and postpone things or put the problems in cold storage. If it is done on educational matters like making provisions for education of school children despite the fact that projects are already in place to look into those things and make such provisions," a Jaipur-based educator said while reacting to news reports that a decision has been taken at the recent CABE meeting to form three sub-committees to consider issues such as mainstreaming out-of-school children; improvement in the school infrastructure; and technical education.
According to the decision, the sub-committees, each with representatives of states, academia and experts would give their report and recommendations within a year.

"As we know that a committee has no power per se, except to make some recommendations which may not be accepted at all or partially accepted. By the time some action is to be organized, some new serious problems crop up to form another committee meeting the same fate. I like to quote Barnett Cocks who had once said that a committee was a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled," he said with a cynical air.

It made me to wonder that efforts of mainstreaming out-school children has been taken in project mode for last 20 years under various Education-for-All projects and successful models developed by a few well-meaning NGOs, but the problem of never-enrolled and drop-out students continues despite the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan being run by IAS officers with loans from the World Bank in place for the last so many years.

During an EFA intervention in Rajasthan called Lok Jumbish, the village level education plans were created and funds were transferred to the Village Education Committees (VECs) headed by academicians with membership from local community-based organisations and parents who received funds for school repairs and to run alternative centers called Sahaj Shiksha Kendras as part of the plan to mainstream out-of-school children.

There is need to learn from that project and empower VECs to do exercises like school mapping, child-level micro-planning and make local educational plans with alternative education initiatives to mainstream children as well as good classroom practices. The model was found viable and the sub-committees of CABE must have a look on the Lok Jumbish model, I suggest.

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