Communitisation report card

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/20/2020 12:13:23 PM IST

 As commented on several occasions in this column in the past, the hype over ‘Communitisation’ was too early and 16 years later, the experiment hasn’t actually been a huge success. Grassroots planning through community participation as practiced by village councils has existed since time immemorial among Nagas and officially taken note of during the mid-70s. Communitisation was inspired by the practice in some villages of Phek district (as well as many other villages of other districts) who adopted their traditional administrative system of grass root participation in decision making. It was around 1980s that this concept was picked up by A.M.Gokhale, then DC Phek. However, the Village Development Board(which later went on to be copied and renamed as panchayati raj) got a kick start when late Vamuzo was finance minister during the NNDP regime. Gokhale studied the practical aspects of the VDB concept and incorporated it into the district planning and development board. It was during 2002 that then chief secretary R.S.Pandey took the concept to another level by having it adopted as ‘communitisation’ policy. The government of Nagaland enacted it as The Nagaland Communitisation of Public Institutions and Services Act, 2002, to cover power, water supply and education sectors to empower the community to own, manage and control government schools by vesting them with legal powers and responsibilities. Under the concept of communitisation, the government in phases out and hands over ownership and management of education, health care, water supply, electricity, tourism and bio-diversity conservation to the communities. The concept envisaged that through communitisation of some government activities in the field of education and power, would lead to improvement in promoting effective governance. In education, the village community was made to understand that schools belonged to the community and therefore, they had as much stake and responsibility to ensure that the schools functioned for the betterment of the children and youth. Today, precisely in 2019 a review of communitisation admitted that the policy applied to government schools has been showing a rising trend of ‘proxy teachers’ mainly since the truant teachers enjoyed the patronage of the Village Education Committees(VECs) which were vested with more powers than the department over school management. On the flip side, while communitisation provided shared responsibility, yet the village committees who are in the field have to play the bigger role in supervising the schools. The VECs are expected to give voluntary service and feel proud of their contributions, while the officers are more than pleased to share the responsibilities with the VECs. The review in 2019 noted that owing to rise in the phenomenon of ‘proxy teachers’, decline in the quality of education. This is a cause for serious concern since providing quality education has become a priority. If so much money is invested but ultimately failing to deliver because of a flawed policy, then there is a need for review. Also in the power sector, the VECs are expected to collect payments from consumers then deposit the amount with the department after taking 15% commission. On the other hand, those involved as members of VECs earn nothing. Communitisation may be practicable and effective with regard to village level planning and execution of works through community contracts but not quite the same in areas that demand some special qualities. Communitisation need not be thrown but reviewed and used only where it can be effective.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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