The Annual Status of Educational Report (ASER) 2017 brought to light the Beyond Basics survey conducted on students between the age group of 14-18. Founder president of the Centre for Civil Society, Parth J Shah, demands that the entire data be uploaded on public domain as a lot of it is lost in processing.
Talking to News18's Eram Agha, Shah explained the various stages of data, what is lost in processing and data models practised worldwide for evidence-based policy:
You went on a silent protest when ASER unveiled its 2017 report because they put up processed data. Why?
The Right to Information (RTI) Act provides an almost perfect template for any law that guarantees a particular right to citizens that is justiciable. It provides a reliable architecture for effective and accountable governance of any rights claim within the Indian context. With more than 12 years of experience, the foundations on which the RTI is built have been proven to be solid. By all accounts, RTI has been successful in fulfilling its basic purpose.
2018 will be a historic year for Indian education policy. The Kasturirangan Committee will release the New Education Policy, outlining the principles, policies and, perhaps, specific programmes and pilots that will guide education delivery in the country. This year will also usher in a new era of evidence-based education policy discussions and debates, based on systematic annual assessments. The latter, to my mind, can permanently change the nature of the discourse on education policy in the country. It will reduce the influence of anecdotes and ideologies and compel people to confront the reality on the ground.
India's Constitution, in its 68 years of existence, has been heralded as a "living document". The constituent assembly was emphatic in ensuring that future generations do not suffer from the absolutism of the old men from the 1950s. With more than 100 amendments, India has the longest Constitution in the world. While fostering these changes is one part of being a "living document", discarding the waste is the other critical part. The plethora of static, obsolete and often colonial laws make it seem, even after 70 years of independence, that the exiled colonial master is still in power.
Let citizens, not the state, decide the allocation of public money to civil society organizations
What is the best way to help others? Basically there are three options:
- Help myself—directly help others with my time, energy and money
- Help a charity—give my time and/or money to a charity
- Help the State—give my money as taxes for the government to provide help
When I ask which of the three ways is better for helping others, the overwhelming majority selects the options 1 and 2.
Hardly anyone chooses the third option of government-run welfare. Between the first two options, usually a younger audience prefers the first one and a more mature one, the second option.