ABSTRACT. This article explores the meaning of community participation in primary education in India, through the lens of various stakeholders like teachers, parents and government and identifies factors that aide and impede such participation. The study was set in Morigaon, Assam and Medak, Telangana and data was collected through Focus Group Discussions with teachers and with members of School Management Committees (SMC), Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) and Mothers Groups and in-depth interviews with government officials. Since there were no PTA and Mothers Groups in Medak, a case study was conducted in Chebarthi village which serves as an exemplar of effective community engagement. Virtually all participants acknowledged the importance of community participation and endorsed community development through an active and engaged citizenry; however, most had very limited understanding of the concept of community participation. Our findings suggest increasing general understanding of the meaning of participation and how people can participate through ongoing trainings that use the language and concepts of participation. Committees such as Mothers Groups, PTA and SMC should develop fixed guidelines for operationalizing their unique roles to avoid redundancy, even as they explore areas for mutual community-building and collaboration. pp. 96–114
JEL codes: H52; H75; I21; I23

Keywords: community participation; rural primary education; India

How to cite: Sharma, Shilpi, Denise Burnette, Anindita Bhattacharya, and Seema Nath (2016), “Community Participation in Rural Primary Education: An Underestimated and Understudied Component of India’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All) Initiative,” Psychosociological Issues in Human Resource Management 4(1): 96–114.

Received 14 August 2015 • Received in revised form 16 November 2015
Accepted 16 November 2015 • Available online 28 November 2015


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Columbia University School of Social Work
Columbia University School of Social Work
Columbia University School of Social Work
Cambridge University

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