Monday, 26 February, 2024

Pointless Conflict

In what may seem an unnecessary case of jurisdiction tussle, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology seems to have been rendered handicapped so far as devising plans for the years ahead in absence of relevant data owing to a problem in reporting channel. Under the previous dispensation, the Ministry deployed some 1,300 resource persons to collect education related data from across the country who reported to the District Education Offices. But this channel was broken with the adoption of the federal system under which the States as well local levels are entitled to full autonomy.

With the implementation of the federal system, the Ministry has set up Education Development and Coordination Unit (EDCU) in each district to collect figures from the local levels. However, the Unit has been unable to gather crucial data from the local levels due to an unreasonable conflict between the centre and local levels. The local governments are reluctant to report to the federal unit saying the laws don’t require them to submit the data to the central government. Besides, they say the centre issues orders like a hegemon so they don’t respond positively to the federal government’s call for data reporting and other tasks. As a consequence, the Ministry does not have proper data about the annual expenditure and physical development. And if the conflict continues, a day may come when the Ministry won’t even have the records of teachers, students and schools across the country. Currently, the Ministry relies on data received through the Web Based Students’ Information Management System to provide scholarships and mid-day tiffin to students.

Another reason cited behind glitches in the collection of data from the local levels is dearth of essential human resources. There have been significant problems in employee adjustment; many employees deployed to the local levels have refused to go to the places they have been assigned to though the government has repeatedly warned them of action if they don’t go to where they have been sent. Consequently, many local levels lack the necessary human resource to do. Many local levels may have the requisite employees, but they are new and lack proper knowledge to accomplish their task systematically, giving rise to the problem like this.

To the extent that it is a problem relating to lack of human resource or knowledge deficiency of the employees, it can be overcome gradually. However, when it is associated with the jurisdiction of the governments involved, the issue become quite tricky. In the current federal model, the local levels plan 70 per cent of the total development schemes while 30 per cent comes in the form of conditional grants from the central government. Currently, the Ministry is unaware of what is going on in the local levels and is facing problems about preparing budget estimates for the new fiscal year. So it sounds a bit unreasonable on part of the local levels to cooperate with the central government. The success of federal system hinges on the cooperation of all levels of government – centre, states and local levels. But if the states and local levels are reluctant to share their data with the central government, they themselves will be hurt in the long run. The earlier this truth dawned on them the better.