Social Equity Audits in Education

Introduction to Audit Tools with Focus on Education Equity Audit (EEA) Tool :-

The CSEI Equity Lens (definition) ensures equitable education and ensuring educational equity and that means necessary policies, budgets, programs & practices are put in place to

i). Eliminate barriers to access, retention and completion of education

ii). Provide equal opportunities & create amenable conditions for the socially excluded.

CSEI Education Equity Lens Focus & Purpose can be put down as –

1) Identify sites & forms of social exclusion/ discrimination in schools for children from above communities

2) Incorporates Gender & Disability as cross cutting factors of discrimination & exclusion

3) Identify exclusion from, by & within education system (to include discriminatory practices, abuse & violence)

4) Identify & Track system’s current practices promoting equity & inclusion (including special measures, materials, financial provisions, cultural practices and specially individual good practices of schools/teachers)

The Equity Lens (equity in education) could and shall map and capture the following exclusionary dimensions:

1. Physical

2. Social

3. Economic

4. Sectoral

With the enactment of the RTE Act and with its various equity & non discriminatory norms being provisioned as the Fundamental Right of every child, it has become vital to initiate an intervention to monitor areas of exclusion and ensure the compliances to these inclusive provisions. This has generated the need of establishment of an equity lens to ensure inclusion at all levels of education & provide an instrument of vigil against any inequity, discrimination and exclusion. The inequity, discrimination and exclusion needs to be captured systematically through scientifically designed audit TOOLs. CSEI has been in the process of developing these TOOLS for some time now which could map violations of rights & entitled provisions and can help bridge gaps including minimizing / helping in eradicating discrimination.

CSEI Education Equity Audit Tool:

Till date an equity lens had not been existent and thus such issues had never been captured and nor have the members from socially excluded communities been ever encouraged to highlight their work on such issues. Above all organizations led by marginalized communities have not had a tool so far to raise their community’s specific issues in education. But there has been a growing awareness among these communities about the need for education as an important means for development. This awareness needs to be supported by a process to enable monitoring & evaluation of equity & inclusion levels within the schools & school education system as a whole. Thus, this proposed equity audits in education would be open learning processes to enable organizations led by socially excluded community members to engage in monitoring – auditing/ evaluating levels of inclusion & equity in education system & institutions.

The Education Equity audits look at education through the lens of the most vulnerable, & socially powerless and equips them to inquire into government’s interventions in education and ascertain whether these are reaching them or not and whether these are adequate to overcome the barriers. It helps to identify & work towards removal of structural constraints that prevent or limit equal access by children of these communities. It helps to identify necessary provisions and mechanisms that can promote their equal access, participation and benefits. The audit should help CLOs develop strategies, programs, plan & design tools to map equity & inclusion.

The Education Equity Audit has Tools coveringState, Block, Panchayat, Habitation, School and Household on the aspects of mapping and recording – exclusions, inequity and discrimination by the target communities. The Tools employ the aspects of availability, accessibility, adaptability and Acceptability for mapping and the sample size of 20% of circular random approach has been employed.

The Education Equity Audit Findings should strengthen the understanding of the CLO’s on how exclusion operates in education system and would prepare them to voice concerns & develop strategic interventions along with their community. These tools would help CLO’s to advocate for effective and efficient implementation of inclusion mechanisms of the education system and make these accountable towards these communities.

Specific Objectives Equity Audit Tools :-

  1. Benchmark current policies, programs, schemes, budgets & institutions against human rights norms & indices.
  2. Systematically analyze social, economic and institutional inequities (i.e. resources, resource gaps, socio-economic conditions, exclusion practices & attitudes) that cause exclusions to access, attend & complete the school by weaker section community children
  3. Build capacities of socially excluded community led organizations (CLOs) to undertake regular equity audits on different aspects of education.
  4. Develop state specific recommendations & undertake planned advocacy interventions to reduce & eliminate inequities, exclusions & discrimination.
  5. Promote equity & inclusion in all spheres of education and ensure equity issues are flagged, discussed and highlighted in education debates. Recommend & advocate equitable & inclusive education policies, programs, practices across states, nations & continents