Boostrapping : EDU.02 - Saatya System for Maths Education
Main Page     Feedback?

Proposed administrative procedure - EDU.02
Saatya   System   to   Improve   Students'   Maths

: To improve Maths education

Pre-requiste readings : EDU.01


  1. Overview of EDU.02
  2. Administration of Exams
  3. Question "Bank"
  4. Cost of conducting exams
  5. Cash rewards
  6. Conducting Tests in Remote Areas
  7. Practice Centers
  8. Preparing first lists of questions
  9. Extending the list of questions
  10. Selection of Maths teacher
  11. Teaching Techniques
  12. How EDU.02 improves Maths
  13. Advantages of EDU.02
  14. Draft of the act to create procedure EDU.02

Details of EDU.02

EDU.02 is system by which the District Education Officer (DEO) can improve the Mathematical skills of the students in that district. I will describe the setup for a district of population 20,00,000 with about 800,00 school students. Following are the main items :
  1. The system will have a list of about 1-2 lakh Maths questions for classesI-XII. Questions will be multiple choice. I will later describe CHEAP administrative setup needed to create such a list of questions.

  2. The list will be published and will be in public domain.

  3. Depending on the resources DEO has, he will ask students to appear in 1-4 exams per month.

  4. Each exam will have 30-120 questions randomly chosen from the list of questions. Duration would be 1-3 minutes per question.

  5. There would be monthly cash rewards for students and teachers based on the student's performance in the exams.

  6. The rewards may be as follows: Say Rs. 10 for each student and his teacher who gets above (Average - 10%) marks for each of the exam and Rs. 20 each student and his teacher who gets above (Average + 10%) marks.

  7. These cash rewards will be the ONLY funding that maths teachers will get from the district government.

Now, I will go over the details.

Administration of Exams

The reader may wonder :
  1. is it economically feasible to take 1-4 exams a month
  2. how can so many papers be graded in a short time?
  3. what will ensure that there is no rampant cheating? etc. etc.
I will answer these questions as I describe the examinationís setup.

The DEO can administer 1-4 Maths exams for every student as follows :
  1. The DEO will arrange for the buildings, desks, computer terminals, servers, printing reports, allocating rewards etc. for the testing centers using the taxe revenue he obtained.

  2. The DEO would appoint clerks, supervisor, assistants etc. to run test center. The citizens may expel an employee using Jury Trial.

  3. The DEO, or his clerks, using random choice, will instruct a student to go to a perticular room/desk at perticular center near his home. For each month, the testing center can be different. This is to ensure that same group of students are never assigned the same room/desk and testing center again and again. Due to this, each students in the center will be a stranger to most other students around him in the room. This reduces chances of nexuses and hence reduces chances of cheating or disruption.

  4. Each examination center will have 500-100 terminals connected to one server computer. Each student will get questions on a terminal. The server computer, upon the instruction of the supervisor or the assistant, will randomly choose say 50-60 questions from a list of lakhs questions meant for that age group whose students are scheduled for the test.

  5. The serverís software will put the chosen questions in a different random order for each student. So each student gets the same 50-60 questions in different order. Thus two students sitting next to each other will be getting questions in a different order. This reduces the chances of cheating

  6. The server will not allow the student to change the answer to a question after he has answered it. The server will allow at most 5 minutes per question. After 5 minutes, the question will automatically change. This and the fact that students are getting questions in different order will make the exam cheat proof.

  7. The terminal will stop taking inputs from the student when the exam ends.

  8. Each student will get the list of questions he was asked, his answer and the correct answer by email. If the student does not have a computer, he may obtain the mail at a cyber-cafe.

  9. The center would use cheap vt-100 terminals and attach them with heavy steel cover so that it does not have much market value and it be difficult to steal them.

  10. I request the reader to note following shortcoming : say a district has 50000 students in class-X. Say there are 50-100 exam centers where the 50000 students have gone to give exams. Now ALL 500-1000 students in one center will get SAME questions, as their terminals are conncted to SAME server which selects the questions. But if the exam centers are NOT networked, the students at different exam centers will get DIFFERENT questions. Is this an injustice. NO. Why? Each group of 500-1000 students got questions from a computer server, which had selected 50-60 questions at random from the SAME list of 1000s of questions. So basically, each student got almost equally difficult question paper. even if not the same.

  11. As resources become available, the DEO should network the exam centers using WAN anyway, so that students get SAME questions. Now the servers in exam center can work with following logic ---- they will take the list of questions from a centrally located server over the WAN ; and in case of WAN failure, the server will randomly select questions on its own.

With this setup, the students can get results within 5 minutes after the test. The DEO will pay the rewards to ALL students/teachers for all the tests of that month before say 10th of next month.

Question "Bank"

The DEO will prepare list of lakhs of Maths multiple choice questions with 4-5 options. Following is the nature of question bank : (I will later specify a proedure using which the DEO can do this seemingly volumnious task inexpensively)
  1. The DEO will decide the languages for the Maths test.

  2. Questions will come from a specific syllabus and a set of formulae.

  3. The questions will be grouped into following 12*4 = 48 groups
    1. Group01 for Class I - First Quarter -- suggested age on the day of exam : 5 years to 5 years, 3 months old (on the day of exam)
    2. Group02 for Class I - Second Quarter -- suggested age on the day of exam : 5 years, 3months to 5 years 6 months old (on the day of exam) and so on

  4. The questions would be on a CD-ROM and they will be freely available to anyone. Any one can print all or part of them and distribute it. Anyone can make textbooks based on them.

  5. The questions of varying levels of difficulty.

Cost of conducting exams (At Feb-2004 price level)

Consider that the district has 20,00,000 citizens and 800,000 school students (class I -XII).

Suppose tests are 1 hr long. So a terminal will be able to accommodate 10 tests per day. If the center is operated 25 days a month, be able to test 250 tests a month. But lets not assume 100% efficiency. Say the DEO would conduct just 160 tests a month using 1 terminal.

So to conduct 1 test per month, for 800,000 students, the DEO would need less than 800,000/160 = 5000 terminals. A simple terminal would cost much less than Rs. 5000. Thus total cost of equipment will be Rs. 5000 * 5000 = Rs 2,50,00,000 = Rs 2.5cr.

Lets calculate the cost of building.

One center can accommodate upto 500-1000 terminals. So DEO will need to setup 3-10 testing centers, each consisting of 20-30 large rooms. I will NOT count the cost of land, and I will later explain why this will not upset my calculations. In general, one terminal will need less than 4 sq. yards of floor space. For a cheap but reliable construction, one needs Rs. 2500 per sq. yard. So the cost of the buildings will be Rs. 2500 * 4 * 5000 = 10,000 * 5000 = 5,00,00,000 = Rs. 5 crore.

So total cost of terminals and buildings is Rs. 7.5 cr, plus cost of land to conduct 1 test per student per month in a district with 800,000 school students. So cost per student is less than about Rs. 100 . Considering some other factors, it may go upto Rs. 150 per student (plus cost of land).

So DEO can start with infrastructure just sufficient to take 1 test per student per month, and the upgrade it to 4 tests per students per month. The infrastructure cost (land, buildings, terminals, servers etc) will NOT exceed Rs 600/student. This will be one time cost.

The salaries will be a very minor cost. 10 full time junior system administrator and 1 full time system administrator are sufficient for these 5000 terminals. At salary and benefits of Rs. 7,000/mo for junior and Rs. 20,000/mo for the senior, total salary is less than Rs 100,000/mo. Add travelling expenses of Rs 100,000/mo, as the exam centers are scattered all over districts. It is less than Rs 0.50 per student per month.

In short, the cost of tests is less than Rs 2 to Rs 3 per test (plus cost of land).

Cash rewards

The rules to calculate cash rewards that the students will get are in two parts --- 1)calculation of points 2)calculation of cash based on points Following are rules based on which the DEO will calculate points for each students :
  1. If over 95% students answered a question or if less than 5% students answered a question, the software in-charge of calculating average score will not count that question at all. This way, if a question was way too easy or way too difficult, it will be ignored.

  2. Suppose 50000 class-X students took an exam. Say for example average score is 60. Then there will be 2 bench marks: (Average - 10%) and (Average + 10%) i.e. 54 and 66. The students and his teacher who got above 54 will get 10 points each. For the students who got above 66, the points for student and parent party will be twice i.e. 20.

    Reason : It is better that each person competes with the average. This way the average will keep moving up. Now if the policy says that only 50% will get rewards, then the bottom 50% or bottom 20% will loose the motivation to even give the exam, as they know that they will loose. So if all students do "well", the mechanism would ensure that all of them get reward. This policy requires that they just stay above "below average" bottom line. Now will it de-motivate the smart ones? No because getting above average will get them more cash.

  3. For a particular class-quarter, a student can take at most 50 exams in his life at any age. If the student was over 1 year older than the age group for which the exam was meant for, the reward will be half the points.

    Reason: It is necessary to limit the number of exams as there are cash rewards with each exam. So that a student does not deliberately slow down, the reward would go down if the student slows down. But due to any reason, if he slows down, the rewards would not become zero otherwise he may loose interest completely.

  4. The software will issue the students' points right after the exam.

Now the exact rupee amount for the rewards are calculated as follows:
  1. Suppose DEO has obtained a fund for Rs 180 crore for rewards for Maths education. Than for each month, rewards are Rs 180/12 = Rs 15 crore.

  2. For all the tests conducted, the DEO will add up all the points obtained by all the students/teachers. Suppose for a perticular month, ALL the points add up to say 30 crore points. Now amount allocated for that month is Rs. 15 crore. Hence monetary value of the point in that month is Rs 0.50. So if a teacher has obtained 20,000 points, he will get (Rs. 0.50 * 20,000) = Rs. 10000 from DEO for that month. And if a student has obtained 160 points, he will get Rs 80/- from the DEO.

Thus teachers and students know the approximate amounts that tests will fetch. But exact amount will be decided later. This will ensure that there is no over-commitment and zero deficit.

Conducting Tests in Remote Areas

Today computer-terminals can be operated on ordinary car-battery so even in remote areas, the test can be managed. In extreme case, the students will be required to travel to a near-by testing center. The above system will certainly cover over 90% of population. The Exam-Administrator of the districts which have remote areas will have to think of some other options. In more remote areas, the students would be asked to walk to a near by center. This will reduce some efficiency, but still will work.

Practice Centers

Over and above testing centers, private companies may establish the testing centers where students can test themselves on their own.

Preparing first lists of questions

I will later publish procedure DEO can create a list of about 4000 questions per class for classesI-XII. It would cost Rs 10 per question, totalling about Rs 50 lakh.

Extending the list of questions

  1. Later, randomly chosen 100 students from top 5% in the city in each exam will be allowed to submit 10 questions for each of the 5 difficulty levels. They will get Rs 10 for each of their questions, if the qustions get selected.
  2. The questions should meet following criteria
      A group of 100 students will be selected at random and asked to solve the new questions prepared. They will get Rs 1/- per correct answer they give.
    1. question of difficulty level-1 should be answered correctly by over more than 70% and less than 90% of the students.

    2. the question of difficulty level-2 is answered correctly by over 50% and at less than 70% of the students.

    3. the question of difficulty level-3 is answered correctly by over 30% and less than 50% of the students.

    4. the question of difficulty level-4 is answered correctly by over 10% and less than 30% of the students.

    5. the question of difficulty level-5 is answered correctly by over 5% and less than 10% of the students.

  3. There is no algorithm to make questions as stated above. But this will make students think carefully and thus they will make appropriate questions.

  4. The questions which the above criteria will be entered into the question bank.

    Thus the DEO can keep extending the list of questions till it is sufficiently large.

Selection of Maths teacher

IN EDU.02, any person can register himself as a Maths teacher before DEO. And the parent of the child will decide which Maths teacherís class his child will attend. This way, a 10th standard student may resister himself as a teacher and start teaching students in lower (or higher) standards. This will drastically reduce number of teachers needed to be hired and teaching costs. The reward of teacher will go to the studentsí teacher as decided by the studentís parents. The parents can change the teacher any month.

Teaching Techniques

In the Saatya Procedures, the student or his parents pick the teacher they like and the reward system ensures full motivation of teacher and student. So that a student can learn at his own pace, the reward system allows student (and his teachers) of any age to get rewards.

Now it is completely left with teacher to pick the teaching technique and if the parents are unhappy, they can switch the teacher. The teaching techniques are NOT part of EDU.02 [Aside : the best Maths-teaching system I have come across is Kumon System and I will describe it in some other booklet.]

How EDU.02 improves Maths

This system will ensure that over 100% students and teachers are fully motivated to study Maths.

For each test, the list of questions is given. Students cannot possibly memorize answers 1000s of questions. But they will have a clear vision about what they will get in the tests. Likewise, teachers too will have clear goal before them. The cash and the prestige associated with getting rewards, will motivate students beyond imagination. The cash will motivate teachers.

Once the citizens have forced the DEO to install the system, the citizens should not give any salary to Maths teachers. The rewards are the only salary. If citizens feel that it is less, they should increase the amount associated with the rewards. But in any case, reward should be the only income teacher should get from the citizen/government. The teacher may or may not charge tuition fee to the student.

Advantages of EDU.02
  1. EDU.02 ensures that students/teachers get paid ONLY if student studies well. This ensure minimal waste and maximal efficiency.

  2. EDU.02 gives direct cash rewards to students/teachers. This ensures maximal motivation.

Draft of the act to create procedure EDU.02

One law needs to be passed in City Council (or District Panchayat) to enact EDU.02. To see the draft, please click here.

     Now citizens can ask City Councilor to pass these Acts. But IMO, it will be wiser for citizens to first enact procedure LM.01 then use LM.01 to pass this EDU.02 draft WITHOUT any help from Councilors. To know about procedure LM.01, please click here.

If you have any other question, please mail it to Thousand thanks in advance.

Next - EDU.03 : Procedures to improve education of some important subjects