Understanding of capability in formal education and the role of comprehensive outcomes in education: case study of ujjwal programme

Jha, Shashi Ranjan; Sharma, Shalender; Ashraf, Reem (2018). 'Understanding of Capability in Formal Education and the Role of Comprehensive Outcomes in Education: Case Study of Ujjwal Programme' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.




Education is fundamental to centrally important beings and doings (Sen, 1992). Scholarly work of Alkire (2002); Saito, 2003; Vaughan, 2007 and Terzi 2007, have established education as basic capability that has instrumental value and lack of which can substantially put an individual to disadvantage. In current context, education of inadequate quality would mean that other capabilities would inherently remain deficient or might not get an opportunity to be formed.In context of the right to free and compulsory education for children in India (RTE Act, 2009), every child under age 6-14 years must have equal opportunity to quality education.


The study is situated in context of an under-developed state in India, Odisha. The state saw shrinking gross enrollment ratio – from 101.31 percent to 96.50 percent) and Net Enrollment Ratio – 93.27 percent to 87.57 percent over the period of 2011-12 to 2015-16. The quantum of children who left the school before completing elementary levels of education during 2009-2014 remained more than 6 lakh (CAG, 2014). Out of all 65 lakh children of 6-14 years enrolled, children from the disadvantaged groups – scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) constitute 12 lakh and 17 lakh respectively with drop-out rates among SC and ST remaining comparatively high (UDISE Report, 2015-16).

The system of education is further constrained owing to low level of learning, especially for the students from the disadvantaged groups and lack of trained teachers in constructivist approach to teaching-learning. State intervention must be such that ensures equitable learning opportunity by creating enabling conditions for children to develop grade-specific basic competencies (functionings) to realize capability in formal education.

About the intervention

To address the persistent gaps and improve the performance level of students in Grades III, V and VII, Govt. of Odisha has designed a holistic programme entitled “UJJWAL” to ensure the minimum learning achievement of the children and effective classroom transaction by the teachers. The main focus of the programme is to remove learning deficits and ensure -all students attain fluency and competency in Language, English and Mathematics along with good values and basics of good conduct.

The programme tries to touch dimensions of the quality education having implications for students, teachers and school that shape the capability in formal education by development of basic competencies (functionings) and compensation for learning deficit (stunted capability, proxied by inadequate or constrained functionings):

  • Learning indicators (LINDICs) for children in Language (Odia and English) and Mathematics (prepared class-wise in detail) 

  • Performance indicators for teachers (PINDICs) developed in line with the PINDICs prepared by the National Council for Education Research and Training. 

  • SAHAJ- earlier initiative by the state for the slow learners through remedial teaching support ensuring grade appropriate learning. 

  • Adoption of schools by all officers of the School and Mass Education Department  


Conceptulisation of Comprehensive Outcomes and Capability in formal education


Education of poor quality culminates in to a lifetime disadvantage (Terzi, 2007) and sense of failure at school diminishes chances of future agency and freedom of an individual (Unterhalter, 2003). Its not only resources and equal opportunity that explains nature of quality, but school experiences including curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and culture of a school become important determinant (Terzi, 2007) Given the fact that children in elementary education, specially the disadvantaged children, suffer from learning deficit which means that certain basic competencies (functionings) are inadequately formed and which will lead to stunted capability in formal education.

The study focuses on Sen’s Comprehensive Outcomes and Culmination Outcomes (Sen, 1997) and argues that stunting of basic capability to be educated is a policy concern which cannot be addressed until school experiences are understood in terms of comprehensive outcomes. As defined by Sen (Sen, 2009), comprehensive outcomes, refers to the process aspect including – actions undertaken, agencies involved, processes used, in this context, the comprehensive outcome refers to the processes that shape functionings (basic competencies) and compensates for under-formed functionings (deficit in learning).

The study proposes to conceptualize potential capability in formal education (Cp) as a bi-product of opportunity to be into formal education and the mediation of teaching-learning process (comprehensive outcomes, explained by intervention). Thus understanding comprehensive outcome in an ecosystem of interactions will determine to what extend the intervention could compensate for stunted capabilities (Cs) i.e. if minimum level of competencies are acquired as against the control group.



1)    To understand the extent of compensation of deficit learning by the magnitude of change in identified competencies (functionings in language and numeracy)

2)    To understand the extent of school processes shaping the formation of competencies

3)    To understand the difference in learning levels attributed to the intervention as compared to the control group with reference to comprehensive outcomes


Data and Methodology

The study will use data obtained under Ujjwal programme, covering sample of 300 schools distributed across 3 revenue division, 6 districts and 12 blocks of the State, covering 4,500 students from grade 3, 5 and 7. For children to develop across various ages and grades, certain learning standards are fixed which provide articulate descriptions of what students should know and be able to do based on National Curriculum Framework (NCF 2005) and the syllabi developed as a follow up for various curricular areas. The study will use mixed method approach; qualitative and quantitative for understanding of the effect of various intervening variables on learning. A two level Hierarchical Linear Model (HLM) or Multilevel model will be developed to explore the comprehensive outcomes that affect learning  at individual and school levels. 

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