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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th March 2019

  • IASbaba
  • March 20, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th March 2019

Archives


(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL/EDUCATION

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Important aspects of governance and related issues.

Transforming education outcomes

Context:

  • The education department has the largest share of employees. Besides the frontline service providers (teachers), there are a number of other officials and administrators who form an important part of the educational set-up.
  • Therefore, given the size of the education department, any effort to introduce education reforms must ensure that the incentives of all stakeholders are aligned throughout the system to ensure their participation.
  • A successful example of implementing such a road map can be seen in Haryana, which has created a race among its administrative blocks to be declared as ‘Saksham’ (which means abled/skilled) i.e. have 80% or more students who are grade level competent.

The Haryana Case Study: Saksham programme

  • After a string of poor results in the board exams, the Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER) and the National Assessment Survey (NAS), Haryana decided to go for systematic transformation and a Quality Improvement Programme was launched from 2014 to 2017.
  • The Saksham Haryana programme was started in 2017 on a mission mode.

How Saksham scheme has brought transformation?

Student assessment tests

  • In the new scenario, the state conducts student assessment tests (SAT) for all classes every two months. The State Council of Education Research and Training prepares the tests.
  • The performance at the level of a school and a teacher can be monitored online through a dashboard to which District Education Officers, teachers, and school heads have access. The tests are both objective and subjective.

Saksham Ghoshna

  • Under this campaign, State officials nominate their block for the ‘Saksham Ghoshna’ once they are reasonably confident that their block has achieved the 80% target — as a result of remedial programmes, teacher training and internal assessments.
  • This self-nomination is then followed by rigorous rounds of third party assessments to vet their claims.

Third party assessment

  • On the basis of the performance in SAT, schools are nominated for the Saksham test conducted by a third party, again every two months.
  • A scientific sampling method is used to choose schools, which offer best representation of rural, urban, boys, girls, primary and secondary schools.

Remedial teaching

  • Under the Learning Enhancement Programme (LEP), remedial teaching is done for all classes for an hour in the morning.
  • Under the Digital Learning Enhancement Programme (DigiLEP), 28,000 primary teachers have been connected through 145 WhatsApp groups. Videos of subject experts are shared on these chat groups.

Monitoring

  • The Saksham programme is reviewed by the SDM at the block level and by the Deputy Commissioner at the district level every month while at the state level it is reviewed by the Chief Minister quarterly.
  • Then the Additional Chief Secretary Education conducts a bi-monthly check with Deputy Commissioners every month.

Do you know?

  • According to the latest third party assessment in February 2019, 94 blocks out of a total of 119 in Haryana have been declared ‘Saksham’ and overall grade competence has been assessed at 80%, which is a giant leap in learning outcomes when compared to the overall grade competence of 40% in 2014.
  • Given these early successes, many other States are also embarking on such programmes.
  • NITI Aayog has developed the State-level ‘School Education Quality Index’ (SEQI). It gives scores to States based on their educational performance and puts this data out in the public domain.

About ‘School Education Quality Index’ (SEQI)

  • The SEQI is a composite index that will report annual improvements of States on key domains of education quality, conceptualized and designed by NITI Aayog and the MHRD.
  • SEQI seeks to make improvements in learning outcomes a focal point of governance.
  • The SEQI uses three data sources – including the National Achievement Survey (NAS)
  • In order to precisely report the quality of education imparted across India, the SEQI is divided into two categories: Outcomes and Governance & Management.

NITI Aayog’s Aspirational Districts programme

  • It was launched in early 2018
  • This landmark programme recognises the disparities in development across states and districts
  • It focuses on transforming 115 districts across 28 states that have witnessed the least progress along certain development parameters.
  • Here, 112 under-served districts across the country compete with each other in order to achieve targets in five crucial sectors; these include education, which has among a weightage of 30%.
  • These districts are monitored real-time and ranked on the basis of their progress.

Conclusion:

The valuable lesson from all this is that inducing competition among administrative units helps invigorate key stakeholders to work in tandem in order to achieve intended outcomes.

Competition also makes abstract goals such as ‘learning outcomes’ more real.

Further, with encouragement from above, such campaigns lead to a shift in the mindset of a State’s education administrators, many of whom otherwise believe that high learning outcomes are almost unachievable.

Political commitment to improving the quality of education backed by strong review and monitoring mechanisms can spur meaningful activity in States.

Improvement in learning outcomes is an immediate goal for India to fulfil its aspirations of playing a greater role in the global economy and a systemic transformation is the best solution that we have so far.

Connecting the dots:

  • The Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) is a radical departure from the country’s previous development strategies in its scale, scope and ownership. Analyze.
  • Improvement in learning outcomes is an immediate goal for India. Discuss recent measures taken by the government to meet that goal.

NATIONAL/POLITY

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Functions and responsibilities of the Government; Separation of powers between various organs
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Governance issues

RBI governor bats for permanent status to Finance Commission

According to RBI governor Shaktikanta Das –

  • While it is important to adhere to fiscal deficit targets (fiscal consolidation roadmap), it is equally important to undertake robust expenditure planning to address the socio-economic challenges.
  • Geopolitical risks have necessitated higher expenditure on defence and internal security. Natural calamities and disasters have called for higher expenditure on relief and rehabilitation. However, in order to fulfill the aspirations of people and the country as a whole, the government needs to spend more on developmental programmes.

RBI governor on Finance Commission

  • According to Das, finance commissions have over the past several decades adopted different approaches with regard to principles of tax devolution, grants to be given to states and fiscal consolidation issues.
  • He called for framework where the focus is on fresh and innovative thinking by every finance commission.
  • There is a need to ensure broad consistency between finance commissions so that there is some degree of certainty in the flow of funds, especially to the states.
  • RBI Governor also said that there is a need to give permanent status to the Finance Commission and constitution of State Finance Commissions every five years.
  • According to him, a commission can function lean till the next finance commission is set up in a full-fledged manner.

Conclusion:

India’s great wealth rests in its diversity. To recognise this diversity is also to recognise that States will follow diverse paths of development.

The Finance Commission must facilitate diversity and a democratic path of development by respecting principles of equity and fairness in allocating resources between the Centre and States in India.

Connecting the dots:

  • Examine the significance of Finance Commission in the post GST era.
  • The concept of cooperative federalism has been increasingly emphasised in recent years. Highlight the drawbacks in the existing structure and extent to which cooperative federalism would answer the shortcomings. (UPSC mains 2015)
  • There must be recognition of the potential of State Finance Commissions in building regional equity. Critically examine the present status of fiscal federalism at state-local government level.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ is under the aegis of

  1. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
  2. NITI Aayog
  3. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  4. Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare

Q.2) Which article of Indian Constitution lays down that a Finance Commission (FC) should be constituted “…within two years from the commencement of this Constitution and thereafter at the expiration of every fifth year or at such earlier time as the President considers necessary…”?

  1. Article 180 (1)
  2. Article 280 (1)
  3. Article 380 (1)
  4. Article 80 (1)

Q.3) Consider the following statements with reference to Finance Commission

  1. It is a quasi-judicial body.
  2. The chairman of the commission is not eligible for reappointment.
  3. The qualifications of the members of commission are not specified in the Constitution.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 1 and 3
  3. 2 and 3
  4. 1, 2 and 3

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