student profile: Mr Bharat Deep Singh Malhi


Thesis work

Thesis title: Punjab Education through Planning and Performance: Case study of Parrho Punjab in North India (2007-2012).

Supervisors: Timothy ALLENDER , Alexandra MCCORMICK

Thesis abstract:

Primary education is crucial for spreading mass literacy, which is a basic requirement for the effective functioning of democratic institutions, economic development and modernization of the social structure. It also represents an indispensable first step towards the provision of opportunity to all citizens of the country (World Bank, 1997). In India primary education is the concurrent responsibility of the central government and the provincial states. To achieve national policy objectives in education, the Indian states plan policies and resources for primary education and, at least in the medium term, the central government will need to continue to support state efforts.«br /» The proposed study aims to investigate a specific state based educational intervention in the North Indian state of Punjab. The literacy rate in Punjab is 76.7% as per the 2011 census, which is slightly higher than the national average of 74.04%. Primary and Secondary education of the government schools in the Punjab is mainly affiliated with the «a href="" title="Punjab School Education Board"»Punjab School Education Board«/a».«br /» The study is set against the historical background of Punjab education where the social construction of gender and changes henceforth have shaped the models of education offered to both girls and boys in the government and private schools. A broad overview of the education models adopted by British rule in the state around 18th century to 19th century laid the foundation of the schooling system which has played a critical role in shaping the framework of education in Punjab.«br /» India's education system today is in large part a consequence of its past. (Allender 2006) mentions that the education historically offered to Punjabis by the British rule went through many systemic stages. However through the complex workings of raj governance, some fundamental decisions shaped the future course of education in this state for decades to come, well after Partition in 1947. To prevent the wealthy from monopolizing education at the expense of poor village children, the Halkabandi model led to the creation of a model whereby every Punjabi would live not more than two miles from one such school (Allender 2006:283-284). The status of women in that part of the century is also important to be linked with the present day girl child school enrolment ratio. The colonial mentalities that shaped and were shaped by women living in colonial India between the late 18th to the mid- 19th century were critical to the gender positioning in Indian society including its impact on education and schooling patterns (Allender 2016). In current times, the preference for private schools, as the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) suggests, is largely attributed to their English medium education which can be linked to the 19th century trend. Bilingual skills (Punjabi and English) and Western education became a form of capital in a colonial society that could be effectively used to acquire power, privilege and the ability to strike political bargains (Oberoi 1994:262)«br /» Taking Tim Allender’s study as base and combining it with relevant studies of the era by Harjot Oberoi (1994) and Imran Ali (1988), this research will outline the contours of the present day education in Punjab with particular focus on Parrho Punjab initiative (Read Punjab, Learning excellence model implemented by the state with aim to improve basic learning competency at Primary level). I propose to undertake a study to analyse the Parrho Punjab model, in which the government schools were part of the intervention, assessing its subsequent success (or lack thereof). An important aspect of this study is an emphasis on discourse creation, in particular the role of the Parrho Punjab in shaping primary education. For about 5 years, the program showed significant improvements in basic arithmetic and reading skills, an unusual outcome in the broader context of the primary education system in Punjab. What drove these impressive achievements, and why were they temporary? This research aims to answer that question.«br /» «br /» However, there is also an important historical aspect to the proposal. The Punjab education department as part of the larger Federal governance rolled out Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) - a nationwide movement to promote education sponsored by government in 2000-2001. This policy focused on interventions like opening primary schools and alternate schooling facilities, as well as the construction of adequate toilets and drinking water, stronger provisioning for teachers, regular teacher in-service training and academic resource support, free textbooks, uniforms. This intervention resulted in a strong focus on building infrastructure across the country including Punjab (ASER) – Annual Status of Education Report. Physical progress being the most visible, it was at the forefront of the departmental works, often leading to a neglect of student learning outcomes. The ASER Report (2007) concluded that the learning levels of children in the age group of 6-14 did not provide them with the foundation to make progress toward the desired reading and arithmetic levels. The study asserted that without the ability to read and comprehend basic language, new class material was presented without appropriate preparation and this made student drop-outs more likely. In the Indian context, it is important to understand that a considerable number of students do not complete their school years and their lack of interest in education contributes significantly to this scenario. As a result of student disengagement and flawed curriculum, students lag behind on even basic skills of numeracy and literacy. This means that education activities do not result in strong learning outcomes. The Parrho Punjab program worked on correcting basic deficiencies of the schooling system in the state but what remains to be researched are the decisive factors which actually shaped this productive and promising change.«br /» Given the nature of this model based study it is also important to compare public schools with a set of private schooling (operating in same socio economic and cultural conditions) so as to come up with operational functionality details which make private schools perform better than their public counterparts. Therefore I propose to study one other privately managed schooling system; Satya Bharti Schools (schools run by Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of corporate telecommunications company) to assess the operational differences between the two set of schooling. By undertaking such a study I will be able to assess the procedures and policies which will allow comparative analysis of this private schooling system with that of the government schools. In such a way firmer conclusions can be made about what can supplement initiatives like Parrho Punjab as an internal support to the government education system. The study will explain the current situation and suggest future directions for primary education. In essence, therefore, this is a study with two broad themes that interrelate: How did Parrho Punjab create successful change in government schools which were facing an education crisis; and how does a private schooling system tend to be different from the government school case. «br /»

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.