New Delhi: On April 8, 2021, union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal launched the ‘Students’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement through Quality Education’ (Sarthaq) plan as the first step toward materializing the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020). Sarthaq “links recommendations of NEP with 297 Tasks along with responsible agencies, timelines and 304 outputs of these Tasks”, said the Ministry of Education release.
Education in India is on the concurrent list, meaning it is governed by both state and central laws. Under Sarthaq, states and union territories, which have their own education laws, must establish their respective State School Standards Authority (SSSA) to regulate, set standards for and provide certification to private schools. Setting up an SSSA would require overhauling the regulatory architecture for K-12 education at the state level, NEP 2020 says.
Legislative reform can be based on qualitative or quantitative assessment of the law in question. As India undertakes a K-12 overhaul, the RegData India project of the public policy think-tank Centre for Civil Society (CCS), Delhi, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Arlington, US, undertook a quantitative analysis of all 145 state school education laws in India in January 2021. RegData India is one of the first attempts to quantify Indian laws, using custom-made text analysis and algorithms.
State education laws were reviewed on three metrics: law volume (or total word count), the number of restrictions a law imposes, and the complexity of the law. How voluminous, restrictive and complex a country’s laws are, affects its economic growth, productivity and cost to consumers, according to an analysis of laws in Australia, Canada and the United States by Mercatus Center in March 2019.
For state school education laws in India, these metrics may indicate the extent of regulatory burden and restrictions on schools. While quantitative indicators may not necessarily guarantee the best performance on education, they can reveal the ease with which regulatees can understand the law. A law governing schools should be easy enough for students to make sense of.
West Bengal has the most voluminous school education laws and Nagaland the least, this analysis found. Uttar Pradesh has 11 laws regulating school education and Andhra Pradesh 10. Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland and Uttarakhand have just one each.
Arunachal Pradesh has the most restrictive school education law with terms such as ‘seize’, ‘punished’, ‘fine’ and ‘suspend’ appearing after every 231 words. Nagaland and Odisha have the least restrictive education laws.
A law that’s difficult to comprehend may increase costs in terms of effort, time and money for regulated entities to comply with it. Mizoram and Delhi have the most difficult-to-read school education laws, the study found.
How long are state education laws?
There is a strong positive correlation between the volume of a law and its complexity, the analysis found. As the volume of a law increases, it also tends to become more complicated to read. The total word count of all 145 state school education laws is over 650,000 words. On average, an education law is 4,700 words long–more than twice the length of this article. The average word count per state is over 21,000 words.
West Bengal has the most voluminous education laws, with a total word count of 61,458 words, followed by Telangana (43,333), Karnataka (43,267), Maharashtra (42,811), and Uttar Pradesh (41,651). Arunachal Pradesh has the highest average word count. States with the least total voluminous education laws are Nagaland (1,002), Chhattisgarh (4,322), Odisha (6,056), Sikkim (7,006), and Kerala (7,312).