Hindu Editorial Analysis 10th November 2017

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HOW TO FIX ACCOUNTABILITY IN EDUCATION SYSTEM :-

Accountability has become the buzzword in school education. Everyone seems to have suggestions about “fixing” education by holding teachers accountable for student test scores.

But the question is :-

  • Whether test scores are the only way to assess how well education systems are performing
  • Whether teachers are the only ones to blame for low-performing systems
  • Whether ‘blame’ itself is the right approach at all.

According to UNESCO’s new Global Education Monitoring Report 2017/18 is a comprehensive and nuanced look at the role of accountability in global education systems in the effort to achieve the vision of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) :- to ensure inclusive and quality education for all, and to promote lifelong learning.

The report points out that providing universal quality education depends not on the performance of teachers alone, but is the shared responsibility of all of us. Hence it is unfair and short-sighted to hold teachers for poor test scores and absenteeism.

Using poor test scores to punish teachers is a bad idea for many reasons

  • Including the risk that it might result in teachers simply teaching ‘to the test’.
  • Examination scores by themselves are an inadequate way of assessing the complex process of teaching and learning because it have the risk of leaving weaker students behind
  • It also leaves academically better-performing students with a narrow understanding of what education is all about.

Don’t blame teachers

  • As for teacher absence, It is unfair to hold them responsible for factors that are not in their hands. For example :- nearly half of teacher absenteeism in Indonesia in one year was due to excused time for study, during which substitutes should have been provided.

If the larger problem is of teacher shortages, perhaps it is time to talk of accountability with a constructive focus on the role of each stakeholder like

  • governments
  • schools
  • teachers
  • parents
  • media
  • civil society
  • international organisations
  • private sector

in the education system & focus should be on :-

How can we better fund and resource schools and colleges? How can we better train and support our teachers? How can we help communities to ensure that every child is in school? How can we support parents, so many of whom never went to school themselves, in helping their children learn?

Conclusion  :- Accountability mechanisms should be developed for education systems that are supportive, constructive and focus as much on the fundamental issues of access, equity and inclusion as on quality.


THE PECKING ORDER :-

Lack of hygiene and cruelty towards birds (poultry), such as confining them in battery cages, has impacted those who consume meat or eggs. The health hazards include a rise in diseases such as cancer.

The Law Commission of India, in its 269th report, drafted two new laws to end the cruelty to birds and pave the way for more compassionate processes in the poultry industry. The rules are :-

  • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Egg Laying Hens) Rules of 2017
  • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Broiler Chicken) Rules of 2017

The rules mandate that a more natural environment of housing that allows hens to perch and move about freely is a better alternative to the existing practice of battery cages. They call for better farming techniques.

The report condemns practices such as

  • Breaking of beaks 
  • Killing of young male chicks in the poultry industry. 
  • Unnecessary feeding of non-therapeutic antibiotics to the birds.

The Law Commission notes that the Indian poultry industry is unable to cater to an increasing consumer base which is demanding cruelty-free meat/organically-produced eggs & It has made it difficult for sellers and the hospitality industry to cater to the business.

On certification :- 

The Commission’s report, further recommends certification of poultry farms by State animal husbandry departments. The certification should make a distinction between produce obtained from cage free egg farming and that obtained from battery cage farming.

In the draft Egg Laying Hens Rules, Farmer duty is to immediately report the

  • Suspected outbreak of any zoonotic or contagious disease or infection to the local authority, the State Board and the State government.
  • Every farm shall have at least one room or enclosure for quarantining sick hens, or hens suspected to be sick.

In the draft Broiler Chicken Rules, the Commission recommends that

  • Chickens should not be housed in cages or kept on wire or slatted floors.
  • Chickens shall be provided sufficient space for movement without any difficulty, to stand normally, turn around and stretch their wings.”

The Rules also mandate that indoor chickens should be provided with a “stimulating environment” to keep them active. Besides, poultry farms should sell chickens only to licensed slaughter houses.


FOR WIDER  COVER : MEETING CLIMATE GOALS :-

In 2015, India made a Bonn Challenge commitment :-

  • To place into restoration 13 million hectares (Mha) of degraded land by 2020 and an additional 8 Mha by 2030.
  • India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) have also pledged to sequester 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent additionally by 2030 through enhanced tree cover. India will need to extend tree cover on at least 28-34 million hectares, outside of the existing forest cover.

As different States work to achieve these commitments, it appears that there is an over-reliance on plantations. In July this year, Madhya Pradesh planted 66 million trees in 12 hours.

Improving ecology :-

The Bonn Challenge lays emphasis on landscape approaches — a model aimed at improving the ecology of a landscape as a whole in order to benefit local livelihoods and conserve biodiversity.
The NDC lays emphasis not only on carbon sequestration but also adaptation to climate change through a strengthened flow of benefits to local communities that are dependent on forests and agriculture for sustenance.

This also reflects the spirit of India’s policy framework on forests which lays emphasis on a landscape approach

  • To manage forest and tree cover, so that the flow of multiple ecosystem services — including food security, climate mitigation and adaptation, conservation of biological diversity and water supplies — is secured.

Where as large-scale plantation drives, which often do not lay stress on :-

  • Species selection
  • The quality of planting materials or survival rates
  • Nor recognise tenure and resource rights to ensure that the benefit flows to communities

Which do not really achieve the goals. However, to operationalise a landscape approach, we must

  • Protect healthy forest areas from deforestation, degradation and fragmentation.
  • Integrate trees into different land uses.

India has numerous models that are suited for different regions and farm household sizes to draw upon, and must not rely on plantation drives alone to secure environmental and developmental outcomes.

Tree-based interventions :-

The nation practises at least 35 types of agroforestry models that combine different trees that provide timber, fruits, fodder, fuel and fertilizers with food crops. This diversifies income from farming, and improves land productivity.
Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) systems where farmers protect and manage the growth of trees and shrubs that regenerate naturally in their fields from root stock or from seeds dispersed through animal manure can also deliver several economic and ecosystem benefits.

In India, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development’s (NABARD’s) ‘Wadi’ model and the Foundation for Ecological Security’s re-greening of village commons project are good examples of tree-based interventions which are proving to have great value in terms of cost-effectiveness as well as the range of benefits they deliver to communities.

An important success factor in large-scale tree-based programmes is security of tenure and land rights. In several parts of the world, securing tenure over forests has been established as a cost-effective way of achieving climate sequestration.
For Example :- In Brazil, for instance, the average annual costs of providing communities with secure rights to their forest is $1.57 (₹103) per hectare (ha) while the resulting carbon-mitigation benefits range from $38/ha to $230/ha per year. That’s a net value of $1,454-1,743/ha for a period of 20 years.

It is also important to have in place a performance monitoring system to quantify tree survival rates and the benefits to communities. This can be achieved through a combination of remote sensing, crowd sourced, ground-level monitoring with support from communities and civil society organisations.

Better to ROAM ?

As we regenerate trees through different interventions, it is critical to ensure that

  • Owners have the right to manage and use these trees.
  • Use of scientific evidence-based methodology with a participatory approach to determine the right type of tree-based interventions most suitable to a certain land use.

A tool called the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) is being used in 40 countries to find the best methods for landscape restoration. The tool includes  :-

  • Rigorous analysis of spatial, legal and socio-economic data
  • Draws on consultations with key stakeholders to determine the right type of interventions.

In India, this tool is being piloted in Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. India has the policy framework, the political will and financing to endorse landscape restoration. What we really need now is innovation and imagination to build replicable and scalable models with a participatory approach to achieve the country’s climate goals through landscape restoration.


 

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