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The role of education in National Development has widened its periphery from the framework of gain in percapita income to much broader conceptualization of capabilities. In this context the role of education in National Development has been tremendously widened its scope and significance. Along with this the need for the educational planning and its convergence/integration with overall development plans needs a holistic understanding of the overall international and national educational policy frameworks. In the mean time one has to understand the local level practices and planning process which may have its origin in the respective local communities. Otherwise also, there is need to understand the linear top-down policy approach designed in the form of  bottom up strategies for educational planning process at National level.  Five decades of experience of planning in India reveals that planning at macro level has not necessarily resulted in the reduction of disparities in education. Hence educational policy planners particularly after 1990, are urging for the micro level planning coupled with enabling policy frameworks at different hierarchical levels viz, International, National, and State level.
Since after 1976, in India education became a subject matter in the concurrency list , there has been significant stimulus is noticed from national, state and local level administration in terms of taking responsibilities. Responsibilities both in terms of quantitative expansion and giving emphasis on the quality of delivery of elementary education.
In India, very impressive gains have been made in this arena of elementary education. Yet goal of Universialization of Elementary Education (UEE) is still seen as a doubtful task. About 95% of villages have a primary school with in the walking distance; also on the other hand some 69 million children between the ages of 6-14 years are yet out of school.
Community Participation in Education.
Community participation in educational processes builds a sense of ownership. Any effort made in consultation with the community will have a lasting impact. However, this cannot be ritualistic, but should aim at creating avenues for true participation by the community in a more democratic manner, so that priority for education cannot be relegated to a secondary position. In essence, community sensitization and mobilization provides scope for owning the process and leads to real empowerment of the community. At this stage of UEE, it may be expected that the community would demand education and the shift its focus from supply-side mechanisms to demand-side mechanisms. Now the focus is on quality education at the elementary level, community is expected to have strong stakes in ensuring such a process at the village level.
Given India’s size and diversity, decentralization is very important for the country’s strategy for improving educational situations. From the first Central initiative to establish local governments in 1957 to the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment in 1992 and 1993, the country has moved in this direction. The two constitutional amendment established mandatory provisions for decentralization to local governments in India. The subsequent State and Municipal Acts created a policy conducive to decentralized governance, and these are being strengthened through devolution of resources, such as centrally sponsored schemes and finance commission block grants. PRIs play a more dynamic and proactive role. These structures have been providing voice to women, Scheduled Castes and Tribes, minorities, parents and educational functionaries. They have also, been delegated with responsibilities with regard to location and relocation of existing primary and upper schools on the basis of micro planning and school mapping. In this regard, decentralization of school management to grassroots level bodies is an important policy initiative. Decentralized planning and management of elementary education is a goal set by the National Policy on Education, 1986. The Policy visualizes direct community involvement in the form of Village Education Committees (VECs) for management of elementary education.

Local Communities, through appropriate bodies, will be assigned a major role in programmes of School Development.
                                                                                                                               Para 10.8
                                                                                  National Policy on Education- 1986
The basic function of democratic decentralization is to ensure that the development planning is more responsive and adaptable to regional and local needs of the population. It ensures people’s participation- the fact recognized by all for the success of developmental programmes. Further, it is also based on the premise that the people at the grassroots levels have a better perception of their requirements.
                                                                                                                               Para 1.10
 Central Advisory Board on Education; Committee on Decentralized Management of Education-1993
National Programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(SSA) was launched in 2001-02 in response to World Conference on  Education  For All (EFA) held in March 1990, in Jomtien, Thailand; and a set of eight Millennium Development Goals in Dakar, Senegal. Important among the Goals are Goal 2 which ensures that  all  boys  and girls  complete a  full  course of Primary Schooling  by the year  2015.It also laid emphasis on the participation at different levels to ensure the mandate of World declaration of Education for all.
National, regional, and local educational authorities have a unique obligation to provide basic education for all, but they cannot be expected to supply every human, financial or organizational requirement for this task. New and revitalized partnerships at all levels will be necessary: partnerships among all sub-sectors and forms of education; . . . partnerships between government and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, local communities, religious groups and families. . . . Genuine partnerships contribute to the planning, implementing, managing and evaluating of basic education programmes. When we speak of ‘an expanded vision and a renewed commitment’, partnerships are at the heart of it .

In order to achieve these objective, under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, multi-varieties of programmes were launched targeting each child, even specific intervention for disadvantaged social groups to achieve the super goals “to bridge all gender and social category gaps at primary stage by 2007 and at Elementary stage by 2010”. The flagship programmes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has brought almost all programmes such as mid day meal scheme, DPEP, Janshala, Mahila Samakya under one roof. These developments have brought huge opportunities as well as problems in administration, execution and policy level discourses for the disadvantaged population of the country. But so far India’s progress suggests that still we haven’t responded adequately. More interestingly there has been more significance and importance has been laid for the Community Participation as an effective strategy for increasing the educational scenario in the Country.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan calls for community ownership of school-based interventions through effective decentralization. This will be augmented by involvement of women groups, VEC members and members of Panchayati Raj Institutions.
                                                                                                                              Para 1.7.3
                                   Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan : Framework for implementation-2008
During the 8th plan period several innovative efforts have been made under the ongoing projects to establish decentralization. For instance, the District Primary Education Programme has shifted the planning mechanism from the state to the district level, and Lok Jumbish has gone one step further by assigning decision making processes to a block level committee. At the village level, a VEC has the main responsibility for community mobilization, school mapping, micro planning, renovation and construction of school buildings and improvement of pedagogical curriculum. In fact, the VECs of Shiksha Karmi schools have been activated as a result of the Lok Jumbish programme.
Therefore, the most challenging dimension of ensuring Universialization of equitable quality education to all children is implementing institutional reforms and community participation in school education. Most reports have categorically suggested that a system of decentralized management of education is the only effective strategy for sustained improvement.

  In tune with above phenomenon, Karnataka also made substantial efforts to decentralize the education to lowest possible level. The Task force report by Raja Ramanna Committee on Quality Improvement of Elementary Education underlined the importance of management and community participation for ensuring quality education and emphasized “community ownership of the school should be ensured through legislation providing for the establishment and empowerment of School Development and Monitoring Committees.”
Community ownership of the school should be ensured through legislation providing for the establishment and empowerment of School Development and Monitoring Committees….and de-centralize functions from higher levels. Legislation should be brought in urgently to give teeth to these bodies.
                                                                                                                              Para 10(a)
                                                          Interim Report of Task Force on Education, GOK
Karnataka has been one of the pioneers in adopting School Development and Monitoring Committees. In 2001,the Government of Karnataka ordered all schools to set up SDMCs replacing the earlier Village Education Committees to bring about “qualitative change” and also to reaffirm the role of the community in the school education and administration in the state.
The SDMC circular specifying the composition, objectives, duties, responsibilities, and procedures was disseminated to all schools. Accordingly, every school now has School Development and Monitoring Committee equipped with clear cut powers in every school. The School Development and Monitoring Committee executive order entails an evaluation study at the end of the three year term. Now that these committees have completed their two terms successfully it would be interesting and useful juncture to reflect upon the usefulness, changes and development brought by them on elementary education in Karnataka especially among the disadvantaged population of the state. Therefore the present study focuses on the role of the community in the School Development and Monitoring Committee with respect to UEE. It’s focus is on the SDMC’s in the Lambani Tandas of Karnataka.
The Lamani habitations are concentrated in the districts of Bijapur, Shimoga, Chitradurga, Raichur, Bellary, Dharwar, Davanagere and Gulbarga districts. According to 1991 census their total population in Karnataka is 8,23,505 ( 4,26,982 males and 3,96,523 females).They speak Banjari dialect among themselves and use Kannada as script. Majority of the Lambanis are landless laborers, wage laborers also some depend on forest produces for their survival, but in the recent times there has been increased land ownership among them. In Karnataka according to 1991 census 46.8% of them are reported as workers (51.1% males and 42.3 females). Informal Panchayath to settle down the disputes among the communities has been developed a very strong social network among the community.
This study will focus on the formation and functioning of the SDMCs in Lambani Tandas to identify the strengths, weakness and suggest steps for further community partnerships in the process of UEE
The current proposal will be focused towards answering some of the research questions raised, which are as following:
a. How much successful the SDMC’s in the Lambani Tandas in terms of understanding their roles and functions?
b. Whether Lambani communities in Karnataka understand the roles and functions of SDMC’s
c. What are the changes brought by SDMC’s in increasing the enrolment and retention in schools?
d. How much effective these SDMC’s in Lambani tandas in bringing the empowerment of Women and Children?
e. What are the changes in the educational situations of Lambani community in the State of Karnataka after the formation of SDMC’s?

Studies on quality of education in government primary schools have revealed that the both the quality of learning and level of involvement of community is very poor. Government efforts to revive community participation in education cannot be undermined. In many instances, however, the various committees School Betterment Committee/Village Education Committee/School Development and Management Committee formed and the activities they have engaged in have remained merely ritualistic. In this sense, the efforts of the government have not been able to achieve complete and true community participation in all aspects of education. Capacity building initiatives for these institutions have also been largely ritualistic. Another major lacuna in previous attempts at ensuring community participation is the absence of focused efforts to engage the community in issues relating to quality of education, to truly understand their needs, aspirations and expectations from education and incorporate the same into mainstream systems of education.
It is in this context that a strong need to understand the complex dynamics of community participation and their real impacts on Quality of Education was felt by the Karnataka Government and initiatives such as formation of SDMC’s for the active participation of Local people at the grass root level was very significant to note after 2001. The operationalization of SSA by Government of India in 2001 and simultaneous executive order of Karnataka State Government is very interesting and significant phenomenon in the area of Primary and Elementary Education. SDMC’s have successfully completed their two terms. The study conducted by Government of Karnataka, Policy Planning Unit and Centre for Child and Law during 2004 i.e at the end of first term completion of SDMC’s, has shown the significant improvements in the perception of the communities regarding SDMC’s. The study was very positive towards the role of community in the School Development and Monitoring Committee with respect to UEE. Hence present study is designed to study the functioning of SDMC’s particularly in the Lambani Tandas of Karnataka. Lambani Tandas have been selected as these are very backward habitations inhabited by the poor Lambani communities.

Also as Lambani’s are Scheduled castes in state of Karnataka, their educational status is very poor. The total literacy rate among Lambani community in Karnataka according to 1991 census is just 28.9%, male literacy being 41.1% and female literacy being just 15.5%. In this context the study regarding such a community will be very useful for the policy dialogues regarding the educational decentralization process among these marginalized people. So that one will be in a position to say whether the initiatives of forming SDMC’s are meeting the needs of this group of people or not. Hence, the present study will be helpful in understating the composition and functioning of SDMC’s among Lambani tandas of Karnataka.

“To study the Role and Functioning of School Development and Monitoring Committees in selected Tandas of Karnataka.”  Here the SDMC’s referred are spread across four districts of Karnataka.

The study will delimit it self to the Role and functioning of SDMC’s and will not go much deeper into understanding of the political dimensions encircling the SDMC’s.

Also the intended study is limited and carried out only among the SDMC’s functioning in the Lambani tandas of four selected districts of Karnataka.The above limitation has been justified in terms of time and geographical considerations in the study.

1.6.a. Local Community: Hillery’s classic paper (1955, p. 113) noted ninety-four alternative definitions of community, and observed that the list was still not exhaustive. Without going too deeply into this matter, it is useful here, based on the observations by Wolf et al. (1997, pp. 9–10), to note that a community has at least some of the following features:
_ a network of shared interests and concerns;
_ a symbolic or physical base;
_ extension beyond the narrowly-defined household; and
_ something that distinguishes it from other similar groups
In the present study community referred is Lambani Tandas    in the State of Karnataka.
1.6. b. Elementary Education: In the context of Karnataka Elementary Education refers to study only up to class seventh.
1.6. c. School Development and Monitoring Committees: In 2001, School Development and Monitoring Committees (SDMCs) replaced the Village Education Committees (VECs) in Karnataka. An SDMC has a 3-year term. SDMCs comprise nine elected parent members, four ex-officio members and six nominated members (including students) to ensure parental and community involvement and participation in the day to day activities of schools. A committee meets once a month to review the functioning of the school.

1. To study the awareness and participation of SDMC members towards the objectives, powers, functioning and duties of SDMC in Lambani tandas of Karnataka.
2. To study the perception of the government functionaries and teachers on functioning of the SDMC’s in Lambani tandas of Karnataka.
3. To assess the perception of the community, parents (other than core committee members) and students(other than the members) regarding the existence and functioning of the SDMCs in Lambani tandas of Karnataka.
4. To map the contributions of SDMC in enrolment, retention and enhancing quality.
5. To understand the aspects of empowerment from the participation of women, children in SDMC’s.

Hypothesis 1. The educated SDMC members have better understanding of the functioning, roles and powers  of the SDMC’s than the non educated SDMC members. 
Hypothesis 2. The government officials and teachers are advocating for the formation of SDMC’s in the Lambani tandas.
Hypothesis 3. The community is not aware of the existence of the SDMC’s in their village and they do not see any importance regarding the SDMC’s
Hypothesis 4. SDMC’s play a very significant role in the enrolment, retention and enhancing quality of elementary education in Lambani tandas.
Hypothesis 5. The aspects of empowerment of women and children is understood through the participation and decision making in SDMC’s meetings as well as educational decisions at community level.

Review of Literature in this study is carried out for the following purposes.
• To conceptualize aspects of decentralization and community participation in educational planning and administration
• To understand the different policies and legal framework which enables community participation in education?
• To derive the understanding from different studies regarding the role and functioning of the School development and monitoring committees. In this different forms such as Village education committees, School Managemnet committees and any other possible forms of community participation are studied both at the national and international levels.

The discourse connecting decentralization to democratization and educational quality has become ubiquitous and has been reproduced across jurisdiction. Empirical studies in Egypt found that effect of decentralization on student outcomes has been insignificant also it creates a pyramidical hierarchical structure which is authoritarian and non-consultative power structures in reproduced at every level. Thus decentralization will more likely lead to the creation of a system with multiple pyramids. Each with its own strict hierarchy, than open the way for a new culture of consultation and participation (Herrera .L, 2008).
Williams (1994) stresses that until the middle of the last century, responsibility for educating children rested with the community. Education takes place not only in schools but also within families, communities, and society. Despite the various degree of responsibilities taken by each group, none can be the sole agent to take 100 % responsibility for educating children. Parents and families cannot be the only group of people for children’s education as long as their children interact with and learn from the world outside their families. Communities and society must support parents and families in the upbringing, socializing, and educating of their children. Schools are institutions that can prepare children to contribute to the betterment of the society in which they operate, by equipping them with skills important in society. Schools cannot and should not operate as separate entities within society. Since each group plays a different role in contributing to children’s education, there must be efforts to make a bridge between them in order to maximize the contributions. Education takes place most efficiently and effectively when these different groups of people collaborate. Accordingly, it is important to establish and continuously attempt to develop partnerships between schools, parents, and communities. Many research studies have identified various ways of community participation in education, providing specific channels through which communities can be involved in children’s education.
Study by Bjork (2003), focuses on a reform launched in Indonesia in 1994 in educational administration and decentralization policies. At the central level, policy rhetoric was strong for the process of decentralization, but when investigated extent of implementation there has been high level of constancy rather than the changes in the schools in terms of decentralization. Study also found there is need for major reconfiguration of the education system to induce any significant changes at the institutional level decision making process. Desire of the central government is very high in terms of delegating the power to the local level but it has remained just a promise and remains on the papers and rarely the needed assistance has been provided to the local authorities. Civil servants see themselves as answerable to the government rather than to students, parents or local school boards.
Osborne and Gaebler ( 1993, 19-20) point out among a diverse set of guidelines, that entrepreneurial governments:
  …………..empower citizens by pushing control out of the bureaucracy into the community; decentralize authority embracing participatory management;…..focus not simply on providing public services, but on catalyzing all sectors- public, private and voluntary- into actions to solve their communities problems. 
Rodall.C.A.S and Martin.C.J (2009), argue that linear models such as top-down promotion of bottom-up policy design, implementation and evaluation leave out the crucial dimensions of inclusive policy-making; to achieve   these, governance practices are necessary to give voice to communities and legitimacy to government actors. The above argumentative understating has been the result of administrative de-concentration process which took place during 1992 in Mexicio.
Colletta and Perkins (1995) illustrate various forms of community participation: (a) research and data collection; (b) dialogue with policymakers; (c) school management; (d) curriculum design; (e) development of learning materials; and (f) school construction.
Heneveld and Craig (1996) recognized parent and community support as one of the key factors to determine school effectiveness in Sub-Saharan Africa. They identify five categories of parent and community support that are relevant to the region: (1) children come to school prepared to learn; (2) the community provides financial and material support to the school; (3) communication between the school, parents, and community is frequent; (4) the community has a meaningful role in school governance; and (5) community members and parents assist with instruction. 

Continued .... For next part of the article please click here:  Pradeep Ramavath-2