Asha for Education










                                                                                                                                                               October 7, 2004.


Dear <Sir/Madam>,             


The government of Karnataka has the excellent scheme of ‘adopt-a-school’ to improve government schools.  Asha for Education, USA (which globally raises $1.6 million dollars today, supporting over 250 projects across 24 states in India), has been working with Deenabandhu in Chamarajanagar district (adopted 75 schools), and Swami Viveka Youth Movement in H.D. Kote taluk in Mysore district (adopted 384 schools).  The ‘adopt-a-school’ scheme has enabled Indians living abroad to contribute to the improvement of government schools.


A particularly good component in the recent years has been the formation of SDMC committees (School Development and Management Committee) for each school.  It encouraged excellent community participation, and we have seen parents get involved in the above schools.   Community participation is the essential first step in improving quality, reducing dropouts, and increasing attendance in schools.  What was especially good about the SDMC committees was that the members were elected from among the parents whose children go to the school, with reservation for women and disadvantaged sections of society.  I visited several of these schools recently and was able to see first-hand the impact of the SDMC committees on the functioning of the schools.


It has come to our notice that on the completion of the three year term of the current SDMC committees, letters have gone to the school headmasters saying that the list of parents has to be sent to the MLA, who will recommend the members to be appointed to the SDMC committees.  We strongly feel this undermines the involvement of the community.  The community knows best who is able to conduct the SDMC matters well, and are best able to elect members accordingly.   It is impossible for an MLA to individually know the parents in every village in his or her constituency and select members appropriately.  This new approach is not democratic, and does not empower the parents like the previous approach did. 


The value of democratic participation of parents in the functioning of a school, without the interference of elected officials, can be seen in many places, for example in schools in America.  US-based organizations like ours in the NRI community find it hard to rebutt questions regarding this undemocratic change from NRIs and the American public who also donate very generously to the cause of education in India. 


We, members of Asha for Education, would like to express our deep concern and urge you to immediately stop this new approach, and follow the old approach for the formation of SDMC committees for the next term.  The government has many wonderful schemes for the public to get involved, but if the basic democratic rights of the villagers in the functioning of their schools is not upheld, the entire scheme is undermined. 


We urge you to take necessary action immediately. 


Melliyal Annamalai

(Director, Asha for Education, MIT/Boston)

(President, Asha for Education, USA ’02-‘04)

Asha MIT/Boston

Asha Silicon Valley

Association of India’s Development, Boston