M. S. Sarkaria

Jaspal Singh



State Council of Educational Research and Training (S.C.E.R.T.) Punjab, Chandigarh came into existence in July 1981 as nodal agency for bringing qualitative improvement in school education. The main objectives of the Council are:

To bring about improvement in the present educational system of the fields of education.

To undertake and promote investigation, surveys studies and researches in various fields of education.

To provide pre and in service training of teachers and educational supervisors.

To formulate and implement pilot project for bringing about qualitative improvement in different fields of education.

To develop new techniques and methodology in the field of school education.

To introduce implement new policies of Centres/States.


District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) came into existence for the realization of one of the five components of a centrally sponsored scheme namely reconstructing and reorganisation of teacher education, approved in October 1987. DIETs are the most significant educational intervention in the country. While the NCERT came up in the 1960s and the State Councils of Education Research and Training came up in 1970s, the need for a third tier of training and resource support structure, right at the district level was genuinely felt in order to improve the quality of basic education. As a result, DIETs were set up in almost all the districts of all the States in the country. DIETs have been established with the mission to provide academic and resource support at the grass root level for achieving quality and universal elementary education. It was envisaged that DIETs activities would reflect pursuit of excellence. Besides its own excellence, it would help the elementary education achieve excellence. Each DIET would be a model educational institution in the district in terms of meticulous, efficient and effective planning and execution of functions, harmonious and creative organizational climate, and maintenance of a clean and attractive campus.

In case of Punjab, there are 17 DIETs. There main functions are: (i) Training (both of induction level as well as continuing varieties); (ii) Resource support (extension/guidance, development of materials, aids, evaluation tools, etc.); and (iii) Action research. At the district level DIETs have the responsibility for studies to be conducted on district specific problems. In addition, they are expected to support action research at school level. Hence, research is one of the main functions of SCERT and DIETs. While DIETs are expected to undertake research to build an improved understanding of elementary education in the district, the SCERT, being the nodal agency, has the responsibility for capacity building of DIETs in the area of research. It is supposed to provide them guidance on selection of research topics, sampling, and preparation of tools and data analysis. It has to organise workshops and training programmes for DIET faculty members.It is also to identify experts to act as resource persons for such training programmes and maintain a panel of experts for this purpose. DIET faculty members are in a better position to assess the local needs and areas in which studies are needed in view of the problems that are specific to the district. They are to use the SCERT resources and services of experts for their capacity building. A research advisory committee is to be constituted at their level for providing guidance in selection of research topics and implementing research projects.



Regretfully the status of research activities in SCERT and DIETs in Punjab has been far from satisfactory. Punjab Govt. itself supports this view; it acknowledges that there is not much educational research being undertaken in Punjab at the grass root level. It suggests that DIETs will adopt ten schools from their respective district for detailed studies and SCERT will coordinate the research activities of DIETs in consultation with education departments of the universities. It further adds that all the research activities and their brief findings will be anually documented by SCERT. Nothing concrete has come out thus far out of this important exercise. So far, funds allocated for research remained unutilized or under-utilized in SCERT as well as in DIETs. As a matter of fact, Rs. 30,000 was allocated for action research to each DIET in Punjab when DIETs came into existence (MHRD, 1989). But the same remained un-utilized or under-utilized and eventually the funds ceased to be allocated for action research in Punjab. As per the norms of Central assistance, under the teacher education scheme there was a provision of Rs. 5.00 lakh upto 9th Plan for extension, action research etc. for DIETs. During the 10th Plan (2002-07), separate provision for amount for action research etc. is not kept, rather a sum of Rs. 17.00 lakh per year per DIET is provided for all projects . Similarly, for strengthening of SCERTs, Central assistance upto a maximum of Rs. one crore per SCERT is admissible over the Tenth Plan period provided the State Government contributes a matching share on 50:50 basis. This amount could be spent, inter alia, on specific projects including assessment/research related to school education and pre-service and in-service teacher education. 


Needless to mention that as per the guidelines for DIETs, the lecturers of DIET are encouraged to bid for funds for specific research projects from NCERT, NIEPA, MHRD, ICSSR, State government, other sources/ agencies/ schemes and for this purpose, it is understood that the institutes receive 7.5% of the total sanctioned amount of the project apart from the books which the researchers buy to carry out the research project. Further, NCTE appraises the status and functioning of DIETs, inter alia, on the basis of research studies carried out at the DIET Level. It is pertinent to mention here that, as funds allocated for the research to DIETs and SCERT remains unutilised. MHRD in association of NCTE organised a national conference of directors of SCERTs and principals of DIETs on Feb. 8th 2006. Its main agenda was on role of SCERT and DIET in research and evaluation. Now sufficient funds are available for research relating to SSA under the Research, Evaluation & Monitoring head of SSA. It is important to plan research activities at the state level and district level properly. To make much of the funds available for research in SCERT and DIETs some suggestions is given in the ensuing paragraphs.



Taking account of the sorry state of affairs of research in SCERT and DIETs in Punjab, the following suggestions are put forth: Programmes of capacity building of staff should be undertaken from time to time. The staff members who are actively engaged in research or who are likely to be assigned research projects, should get necessary orientation on the sampling, drafting of research proposals, preparation of tools and data analysis. In particular, they need training in carrying out multivariate analysis of data, which is generally required in educational research, but is not  undertaken due to lack of expertise. Also the needed software for analysis of tests data and data of educational studies or surveys should be procured and some faculty members should be specially trained in the use of such software. Research oriented staff should be posted in DIETs and SCERTs. As of now the teachers get themselves transferred in DIETs for convenience/proximity.  As far as the post of head is concerned, DIET as also SCERT is considered as the dumping station. This mode of staffing these institutions should be done away with. Fairly good numbers of M. Phil and Ph. D. teachers are working in schools they should be given a chance to work in DIETs and SCERT. Priority areas and topics for the studies to be conducted at state level: should be listed. A Research Advisory Committee may be set up to deliberate on the priority areas and to select topics of research. The committee should meet 2 or 3 times in a year to discuss research issues and to consider the problem that require research, arising from findings of previous studies. Generally not much attention is paid to the findings of research studies after their completion. A system for critically examining the findings of research studies and dissemination of the findings should be set up. The Research Advisory Committee would suggest the follow up action to be taken at different levels. Both SCERT and DIETs apart from utilizing the findings of research for improving the quality of education or bringing about improvement in any area in which there is deficiency, they should have a programme of scanning information on whatever is available in research journals, research or survey reports, on internet. It should document the findings that could be of use to teachers and other functionaries. They should publish bulletins or monographs on specific areas of concern to teacher, administrators, teacher trainers and others who are expected to provide academic support to teachers.


Ensuring quality of research: It is important to ensure the quality of research. For that it is necessary to have a system of monitoring the quality of research by checking how the data sampling is done, how data are collected and how the analysis is done. The research reports should be evaluated by experts and discussed in seminars before the findings are disseminated for follow up action at various levels. Often national level organizations such as NIEPA, NCERT and Ed. CIL conduct studies and surveys that cover several states. Mostly NGOs and commercial organisations get associated with such studies. SCERT should develop the capacity to participate in such studies actively. It has been participating in Achievement surveys conducted by NCERT, but its contribution should not be confined to data collection, it should also do some analysis on its own. Organising state level achievement surveys: SCERT can organise state level achievement surveys covering all the districts for once in 2 or 3 years. The national surveys organized by NCERT do not provide information for every district; also these surveys are based on common elements of the syllabi of various states. In the state level surveys, tests based on specific state syllabi can be developed for use in survey. However, for conducting such surveys, SCERT needs to develop expertise in sampling, preparation of tests and analysis of test data.



This paper takes stock of the research activities in SCERT and DIETs in Punjab vis--vis provisions and guidelines for research for such institutions. Research activities in Punjab are negligible. Nothing concrete has come out so far out of this important exercise. Funds allocated to these institutions for research remained unutilized or under-utilized. What is more disturbing is that the Education Department of Punjab does not seem to add much significance to the research activities in the state. If the situation is to be improved the Education Department should immediately initiate measures such as staffing these institutions with research oriented teachers and improving their competence through programmes of capacity building in research.