Need for comprehensive approach to education
The narrative of education reform in India has seen many changes. After independence, there was a huge infrastructure deficit, which looked like a major uphill. The response to that was that we built schools to enable access. After doing it to a decent extent, we now realized that even though the schools are built, teachers aren't teaching. The paradigm has shifted and now the focus is on 'governance deficit'.
Once the governance deficit is also resolved, the next problem could be standards of quality. After this is solved, the next one could be appropriate classroom procedures and pedagogical techniques. This can continue for long.
If we take one generation each for solving each problem, then we might take long time to achieve the final outcome. The simple truth being, outcome is a function of infrastructure, access, governance, pedagogy and many others and the interlinking between them. I blogged earlier arguing for evaluating multiple interventions administered together, similar to the ultrapoor graduation approach. On the same lines, we should take a comprehensive approach to education by confronting all problems at a time.
A comprehensive approach to education has primarily two benefits (solves two problems). The first problem is that education reformers currently work in a fragmented approach. Pedagogues are working on the problem on their own, economists are working on their own, each exploring different strands. An integrated approach requires people of varied expertise, thus bringing everyone on a common platform. The second problem is that we don't understand yet understand the issues in education. There are individual issues and the issues arising from the interactions of multiple issues. An integrated approach would unpack this black box, throwing light onto these unknown issues. If not, we would realize these issues much later, losing lot of time. Even if there aren't no existing solutions to these newly found issues, it would at least enhance our understanding of the problems.
A comprehensive approach needs laser focus on the final outcome. Everything that is done should be part of a framework which as this outcome as the final goal.