Deliberating international trends and domestic paradigms of policy implementation: The case of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in Odisha, India

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    Description of Activity

    Education for tribal children in India has long been characterized by under-resourcing, low quality and discourses of failure. The ‘solution’ to these disconcerting problems of policy implementation has involved a deliberate, incremental shift towards decentralised approaches to implementation and monitoring. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan ((SSA) directly translates as campaign for universal education) a flagship programme of the Government of India is one such efforts that promotes community ownership of school systems, a centrally sponsored scheme executed through a sharing basis by the Government of India and State governments. The solution includes an increased focus on bridging social, regional and gender gaps, promoting provision of greater quality to basic education and community-based evaluation. While policy makers have seen these shifts necessary, implementing these in marginalised indigenous communities has led to increased exclusion, bureaucratic oversight, broad-based ‘benchmarking’ of SSA’s goals, and a problematic emphasis on achieving goals within a limited timeframe.

    Results from an empirical study conducted in tribal villages of Odisha, India will be presented to emphasise how deep seated socio-cultural influences and political rationalities define SSA’s implementation and evaluation structures. The results of these practices that underpin policy interpretation and practices in tribal communities will be explored within this context. The presentation will highlight how: economic structures are triggered by class structures and increase distributive injustice, disallowing people the resources they need to participate with others as peers; institutional hierarchy can cause status inequality or misrecognition through cultural values and thereby hinder parity; and political dimensions of inequality, that in many ways constitute and determine the access to both distributive and recognition inequality. In discussing this, the need to shift epistemic assumptions of roles and power defined by policy makers and governments within the policy process in marginalised indigenous communities will be argued.

    Data discussed in this talk will also focus on unpacking the approach to policy evaluation undertaken by local level educational leaders (in both community and government levels) to help recognise and highlight that policy problems recognised in the community/local level are actively produced as part of policy making. The need for evaluating evaluation methods to ensure reports reflect the fullness, complexity and importance of local issues to meaningfully contribute to decision-making within the policy process will be deliberated. I argue that recent notions about ‘the way forward’ can lead to the development of poor policy decisions and hinder Indigenous educational ambitions. While demonstrating the need for demystifying policy processes in marginalised, indigenous contexts, the presentation will challenge the traditional starting point of policy makers and policy evaluators. Thus, the normative socio-cultural and political assumptions that permeate Indigenous educational discourses, epistemologies and policy decisions will be challenged.
    Period25 Mar 201829 Mar 2018
    Event typeConference
    LocationMexico City, MexicoShow on map