Power to the Parents: Impact of Reforming School Management Committees


Prof Ashwini Deshpande, Professor of Economics, Ashoka University

Prof Emmerich Davies, Assistant Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

About the Study

Decentralizing decision-making responsibilities to the ultimate beneficiaries has often been proposed as a way to align service provision with the ultimate beneficiaries.  Does decentralization improve service delivery and does parental participation improve school governance? The reforms adopted by the Government of Delhi aimed towards mobilising School Management Committees provide an opportune platform to answer these questions. While a participatory school management system is mandated under Right to Education Act in India, Delhi’s reforms aimed at empowering SMCs can provide valuable insights for other states to follow.

Context and Details of the Evaluation

We have been using mixed methods approach to understand the effects of SMC elections on governance and representation. In September-November 2018 we conducted a survey on random stratified sample of 2,000 parents, who send their children to the 50 Delhi Government schools in 12 education districts . We asked questions about the issues they have with their children’s schools, how they evaluate the school and existing SMC’s performance, and how they want to prioritize various aspects of improvements in schools.

In the current phase of research, the research team is surveying SMC members of all the 50 sampled schools. We are also conducting a group decision making activity to evaluate and understand the functioning of SMCs as a group. The project will evaluate and study how group results converge or vary from preferences of individual members of the SMC, and how representative SMCs are as a representative body.

The project is also exploring the patterns of expenditure of SMC funds. The disbursement of these  funds have been decentralised to the SMC, where consensus within the SMC allocates the funds. By analysing data on SMC funds use across the 2018-19 and 2019-20 financial years, the study seeks to provide policy recommendations for better financial management by SMCs. This could help in financial planning at the directorate level and recommending training of SMC members on their fiscal responsibilities.


Project ongoing