To realise the goals of achieving Sustainable Development Goal number four (that is, the importance of quality education for all) different participatory development approaches (Cornwall, 2011) are required to improve the public education system across the nations. One such approach is to engage young professionals with the government to bring forth the nuance required to transform the public education system (Checkoway et al., 2003). This blog post highlights the Change Makers in Education (CMIE) programme in Delhi, India, which marked an exemplary illustration of civic participation in governance and its importance. With support from primary research conducted by the authors, an attempt has been made to equate the CMIE fellows as development agents that strive towards improving the public education system of Delhi.
Doing development differently
In Delhi, the Change-Makers in Education (CMIE) programme initiated by the Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, aligned with the democratic values of the country, which encouraged the creation of a space for civic participation in the government system. Such initiatives allow the young workforce to experience the functioning of the government and contribute towards achieving developmental goals. Under the CMIE programme, professionals below the age of 35 years are engaged to work as consultants within the education department of the government. The objective of the CMIE programme was to engage the minds of young professionals from various backgrounds, with the aim of promoting state-level educational reforms. These young professionals were entrusted to conceptualise and understand various initiatives significant for school reforms, to engage in dialogue with policy-level stakeholders, and facilitate and create pathways for transformative partnerships with experts from within and outside the country. Their work throughout was in alliance with high-ranking officials in the government. Major reforms and intervention programmes such as the Happiness Curriculum, Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum, and Schools of Specialised Excellence and Student Advisory Board, introduced by the Delhi Government, have seen substantial contributions from the CMIE fellows. These projects strive towards making the students confident while inculcating in them essential leadership and decision-making skills (Acharya, 2023).
‘The objective of the CMIE programme was to engage the minds of young professionals from various backgrounds, with the aim of promoting state-level educational reforms.’
In order to understand the importance of the inclusion of CMIE fellows within the education system of Delhi, primary research was conducted by the authors in 2022 in which five CMIE fellows and two programme managers of the CMIE fellowship were interviewed. The following outline some of the observations drawn from these interviews:
- The role of fellows was to conceptualise interventions and implement policies while playing a positive role as ‘influencers’ in education governance. The inclusion of young professionals in government machinery allows them to thrive by becoming an extension of government leaders and bureaucrats. It illustrates a potent combination of generalists and specialists in the governance system, opening the opportunity to identify and catalyse the attempts to bridge the policy and implementation gaps.
- CMIE fellows brought quality to education-oriented interventions. Their varied experiences in different professions added fuel to the government machinery in achieving goals with better precision and efficiency. They brought to the government a pool of fresh talent with academic/professional expertise in the education domain.
- There is often a mismatch in policies and their implementation. The inclusion of young professionals plays a significant role in bringing to the forefront prevalent real-life situations and their subsequent effect on policy making. The participation of young professionals is reflective of the democratic ethos of the country, of making decision-making participatory.
The participation of young professionals in civic and democratic spaces is significant because a decentralised participatory approach is imperative for good governance. It can pave the way to develop ‘critical consciousness’ among young professionals and guide them in becoming active citizens of the country. Young professionals have the potential to bring to the table vibrancy and spark a passion for doing better in the governance space. Therefore, a model such as the CMIE programme outlines a different development approach in attaining educational reforms in the public education system where the fellows act as development agents.
Acharya, S. (2023, March 23). Alternative role of the state for education reforms. BERA Blog. https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/alternative-role-of-the-state-for-education-reforms
Checkoway, B., & Richards-Schuster, K. (2006). Youth participation for educational reform in low-income communities of color. In S. Ginwright, P. Noguera, & J. Cammarota (Eds.), Beyond resistance: Youth activism and community change (pp. 319–332). Routledge.
Cornwall, A. (ed.) (2011). Revolutionizing development: Reflections on the work of Robert Chambers. Earthscan.
UKFIET. (2022, June 27). Montessori Model to Build Back Better in Delhi Government School. The Education and Development Forum blog. https://www.ukfiet.org/2022/montessori-model-to-build-back-better-in-delhi-government-school/