Enough is never enough – moving the needle on quality education: Turn the Bus in Bihar
Curating the problem in achieving quality education
The National Population Policy 2020 aligns with transformative knowledge for young people in India (NPP 2020). The NPP 2020 is one of the steps that the central government of India has taken towards realizing the Sustainable Development Goal-4 ‘quality education’. The policy focuses on increased critical thinking abilities, higher order thinking and deeper learning, mastery of content, problem solving, team work and communication skills besides general engagement and enjoyment of learning.
The government has also developed the SDG-4 Dashboard for the country to map and rank states taking lead in efforts towards realization of quality education (based on the availability of data at national and sub-national levels). One of the most alarming indicators of the national dashboard is the gross enrollment ratio in higher education (18-23 years), which stands at 13.6% for Bihar. The country has set the target is to increase it to 50 per cent by 2035.
The state adopted a multi-pronged approach towards curbing the barriers towards quality education (i) teachers’ recruitment and availability in schools and investment in school infrastructures intensified under since 2010 (ii) “Mukhayamantri Balika Cycle Yojna” or the scholarship scheme to incentivize attendance in schools (iii) appointment of quality Co-ordinator at the district level to implement “Samjhein Seekhein” [understand learn] program. The coordinators were expected to monitor schools and in particular devise innovative tools to improve learning (iv) promoting civil society organizations and the government’s willingness to partner with them, and engage in regular discussions and dialogue on the challenges facing the state.
Turn the Bus – A model - Extrapolating aspirants to address quality in education
At Turn the Bus, the solution to the problem is straightforward and innovative. IAS aspirants, home-makers and professionals and college students are reached and brought onboard to prepare learning videos for students in Bihar. Onboarded teachers prepare video lessons and submit to the tech-team of Turn the Bus. The videos undergo quality assurance and syllabus coverage and uploaded on application and YouTube channel for students. Approximately one year time is given to students, for one complete academic session, to cover the syllabus, take various tests to check progress and engage in study groups, doubt clarification sessions for better understanding and wholesome approach to studies. During this time student appears for mocks and pre-boards kind of short exams to check preparedness for finals.
The uniqueness of this effort provides fertile ground to answer important policy questions related to the implementation conundrum and education reform in India and in the state. What does it take to institutionalize education service delivery reform in India? When and under what conditions do reforms get integrated and absorbed into the education system of the state? The only way these questions can be addressed is through long term sustenance of this initiative, that addresses social inequality in the education landscape in Bihar.
 Working Paper, education reforms, bureaucracy and the puzzles of implementation, A case study from Bihar, Yamini Aiyar, Ambrish Dongre, Vincy Davis, 2015