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Your Voice - Your Issues

Your Voice - Your Issues


The role of an active civil society in forming public opinion and effective public policy interventions is well established. Your Issues, Your Voice is an attempt to tap into the knowledge resource of you, the voting public and use your emotions, thoughts and ideas to create consensus for action. I will ask you questions on this forum through our ‘Poll’, give my views on issues of contemporary relevance through the interactive blog and ask for your inputs every step of the way. I want you to stand up and get counted, give your aspirations an expression, reach out and connect.


Your Voice - Your Issues
26 April 2013

Parliamentary Questions Series

User Rating:  / 7
Written by Saanya Gulati

Questions and Answers–Making Parliamentary Procedures More Accessible

Question Hour has become a well-established part of the proceedings in Parliament. All Members of Parliament have this tool at their disposal in order to hold the Executive accountable, whether it is to inquire about the progress of public projects, the status of schemes, the utilization of public money, or virtually any issue that impacts policy making at a national and state level.

Apart from the 20 Starred Questions that get answered by Ministers on the floor of the House, replies to most Parliamentary Questions are rarely publicized.

230 Unstarred Questions are asked in the Lok Sabha, and 175 in the Rajya Sabha each day that Parliament is in session. These questions receive written responses from concerned Ministries. The data provided in these replies is usually the most recent figures on the progress of a scheme, information on Government decisions, and the status of various reports, surveys, as information is typically updated more infrequently on Ministry websites. A huge repository of data exists on both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha websites, archiving thousands of questions asked by Members of Parliament over the years, yet few are aware of it.

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Your Voice - Your Issues
24 January 2013

Learning from the ASER Survey: the outcome of our education policy in India

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Written by Saanya Gulati

Learning from the ASER Survey: the outcome of our education policy in India

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) of 2012 — the largest nationwide survey that tests the learning levels of children across all rural districts —was released last week.

Last year I had the opportunity to conduct, albeit a very small part of this survey, in some villages of the Gautam Buddh Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh, as one of the 25,000 volunteers that ASER recruited. Apart from being able to reach out to 3,00,000 households and 7,00,000 children, through this massive volunteer network, ASER also manages to spread a vital message to the young people of this country, on the importance of learning outcomes. While communicating this message to every household that you survey can become cumbersome, seeing the response of the community — in most cases a mother or father’s anxiety to understand how his or her child is performing, whether he or she is learning English well, a primary concern in the villages we surveyed, or eager friends and siblings eagerly gathering around to see the math sum being solved or the sentence being read — only confirms that learning levels are seen as an important outcome of the education system for those at the consumer-end as well.

The results of the latest ASER survey show that learning levels are declining across the country, whether it is in reading or arithmetic, the primary areas in which children are assessed. From 46% of children in Std. V who could not read a Std. II level text, this has increased from 52% in 2011 to over 53% in 2012. More than half of all children in Std. V are at least three grade levels behind where they should be. Similarly,from 29% of children in Std. V who were unable to solve a simple subtraction problem in 2010, this has increased from 39% in 2011 to 46% in 2012.

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