The cover story for this issue of EducationWorld was written in mid-May before the verdict of the electorate of General Election 2019 was declared. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which against all expectation was swept to power in 2015 in the Delhi legislative assembly election with a massive 67/3 mandate — the BJP had won General Election 2014 with an overwhelming majority — was adjudged to be a fit choice for our cover story because unlike all other political parties, it has made education reform a major plank of its election campaign.
Since it was grudgingly sworn-in as the government of Delhi state four years ago, the AAP administration has made good many of the promises it had made to rejuvenate Delhi’s languishing public K-12 education system. Its annual allocation for education as a percentage of the budget (26) is perhaps greater than of any of the country’s 29 state governments. Consequently, the AAP government has succeeded in radically improving the infrastructure and facilities provided to students. Moreover, it has introduced teacher training and development initiatives which are unprecedented in the history of public (government) education by sending over 800 government school principals and teachers for training to educationally advanced countries, including the UK, US, Singapore and Finland.
AAP and its education reforms record was chosen as the subject matter of our cover story as a test case to gauge the importance the public accords to education. The reasoning was, if AAP wins all seven or a majority of the seven Lok Sabha seats of Delhi, it would confirm that education reform is an election winning issue. In the event, AAP didn’t win a single seat suggesting that education is low down on the priority list not only of politicians but of voters as well. But perhaps the Delhi state assembly election due next year will provide conclusive proof. Our Delhi correspondent Autar Nehru met with AAP leaders to write the cover feature on the AAP leadership’s education reforms and initiatives, somewhat blighted by its populist interference with Delhi state’s private schools.
Our second lead feature on runaway grades inflation in school board exams is of equal — if not greater — import. Learning outcomes of India’s school-leavers in international cognitive skills and impromptu field tests are unimpressive. But in board exams, there’s no shortage of prodigies. According to managing editor Summiya Yasmeen, India’s school-leaving geniuses are exam writing experts rather than creative thinkers and problem-solvers.
Last but not least, in this issue we introduce our new EW Analytics feature. This is an outcome of our annual EW India School Rankings — the world’s largest school rankings survey — published every September. In this annual survey, the spotlight is on national rankings of schools divided into 14 categories (to avoid apple-oranges comparisons). But state and city rankings — particularly in the case of day schools — are equally important. Ergo, EW Analytics which highlight state and city rankings. We’re sure they will prove useful to all stakeholders in primary-secondary education.