Elementary Education being the foundation of pyramid in the education system has been accorded high priority. To ensure “Education for All” the Department of School Education and Literacy has a multi pronged approach. Two flagship programmes are being implemented viz. the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Mid-Day Meal Programme (MDM).
While the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan aims to achieve universal elementary education of satisfactory quality by 2010, the MDM supports it by way of enhancing attendance of children and simultaneously improving their nutritional status. Owing to increase in the number of students completing at elementary stage, there is a surge in demand for secondary education. It is, therefore, essential to be prepared to meet it through improving access at secondary level. Also, the challenges of non-literacy adult population have to be squarely met by adequately revamping our basic literacy programmes.
The funding pattern of SSA has been modified in a tapering off ratio between the centre and the Sates. Starting with the ratio of 65:35 in the first two years of 11th Plan it will become 50:50 in 2011-12 (last year of the 11th Plan). The strategy will be to close the infrastructure gaps as well to improve the quality of learning in government and government-aided schools in which more than 80% of our children study.
Under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan we have not only been able to improve access to 98% at primary level but have also been able to reduce out of school children to 3-4% of 6-14 age cohort. During the X Plan the basic infrastructure has improved through the opening of 1.87 lakh schools, appointment of 8.12 lakh teachers, construction of 1.70 lakh buildings & 7.13 lakh additional classrooms. Also, 1..72 lakh drinking water facilities and 2.18 lakh toilets have been created. Due to the efforts made under the SSA, the access to schools has improved to 98% of habitations at primary level and 86% at upper primary level. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has improved enrolment by 25 million between 2001 to 2005, thereby reducing the out of school children to 3-4%, hardest to reach in the 6-14 age group. The dropout rates at primary level are declining and that of girls is declining more sharply. The gender parity has improved from 0.81 (2001-02) to 0.93 at the elementary stage of education. The transition rate from primary to upper primary (class V to VI) has improved to 83.72%.
More emphasis is being given to quality under the SSA, as specific provision for learning enhancement programme, remedial teaching and emphasis on teacher training is being placed. In fact, 50% of the SSA outlay is now going towards quality.
Till now 2180 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) have been sanctioned in Educationally Backward Blocks. Seeing the successful implementation of scheme, 410 new KGBVs will be set up in blocks/ urban areas uncovered hitherto.
At primary level 9.7 cr. children under Mid-Day Meal Scheme are being covered. Since 1st October, 2007 the scope of scheme has been enlarged to include upper primary schools in educationally backward blocks which will cover additional 1.7 cr. children. All Government and Government aided schools and Employment Guarantee Scheme(EGS)/Alternative & Innovative Education(AIE) Schemes under MDM are being covered from 2008-09 onwards.
To provide access to secondary education with special focus on the weaker sections of the society, the educationally backward, the girls, the disabled, children residing in rural areas and other marginalized categories like SC, ST, OBC and Educationally Backward Minorities (EBM) are to be given special attention. Not only universal enrolment, but universal retention and satisfactory quality of learning should also be a priority. New initiatives during the 11th Five Year Plan for Secondary Education are, inter-alia,
- Scheme for universalisation of access to and improvement of quality of education at secondary stage (SUCCESS).
- Prime Minister in his Independence Day address for 2007 has announced that the central government will support setting up of 6000 model schools throughout the country, one school at each block, to serve as benchmark of excellence.
- A national scholarship scheme is proposed to be implemented during the 11th Five Year Plan. In order to arrest the dropout ratio and encourage students to continue their education beyond class VIII, it is proposed to introduce a National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme. Selection will be made through a national test from among students who have passed class VIII. Each student will be given Rs. 6000.00 per year for study in classes IX, X, XI & XII.
- ICT in schools: A revamped scheme of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Schools will be implemented in partnership with the States and Private providers. The scheme provides computer-aided education and ICT literacy with broadband connectivity I about one lakh secondary and higher secondary schools of Government, Local Bodies and Government-Aided Schools.
In a nutshell, the strategies for entire school education are aimed at:
- Addressing residual access at elementary level and improving access at secondary level.
- Addressing equity by way of incentives for girls and students belonging to SC/ST/ Minority etc.
- Improving quality by focusing on acquisition of basic competencies in numeracy & language in schools at primary stage and improved learning level in Science and Maths particularly thereafter.
- Computer Aided Education both at Elementary & Secondary level.
The XI Plan outlay for Higher Education is roughly Rs. 85,000 cr. which marks an over 9 times increase (at current prices) over the X Plan expenditure. Priorities for Higher Education in the XI Plan are expansion of access (i.e. of institutional infrastructure), equity (i.e. to ensure effective participation of disadvantaged groups, and to correct regional imbalances), improvement of quality, and optimal use of Information & Communication Technology to promote achievement of these objectives. The XI Plan aims, inter alia, to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio for the 18-24 years age group to at least 15% by the end of the Plan period.
The major initiatives which will be implemented in the XI Plan are:
- Establishment of 8 new IITs, of which the process for establishing 3 IITs in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan is already underway. The 4th IIT is going to be set up in Himachal Pradesh.
- Establishment of 7 new IIMs, of which the first, at Shillong, would start functioning through temporary premises from the next academic session.
- Establishment of 3 new Indian Institutes of Science Education & Research of which one has already started functioning at Mohali and two more would come up soon in Bhopal and Thrivananthapuram. This is over and above the 2 IISERs at Pune & Kolkata which were started in the last year of the X Plan
- Establishment of 16 Central Universities in States which have no Central University at present, (viz., J & K, Punjab, Haryana, HP, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and Goa), and another 14 Central Universities aimed at attaining world class standards.
- Establishment of 20 Indian Institutes of Information Technology- as far as possible in the Public-Private Partnership mode.
- Providing assistance to the State Governments for the establishment of 370 Colleges in districts where access and participation rates are lower than the national average. Many of these districts have also concentration of SCs, STs, and Minorities.
- Providing assistance to the State Governments for establishing a new Polytechnic in such districts which do not have one at present. Also assistance would be given to encourage setting up of about 700 Polytechnics through PPP/ Private mode. This would again benefit particularly those districts with a concentration of SC, ST, and Minorites.
- Establishment of an Indira Gandhi National Tribal University with countrywide jurisdiction to promote study and research into tribal history, economy, society, culture, etc. and to look into tribal issues, as well as to promote education of Scheduled Tribes.
- Providing assistance for the establishment of Women’s Hostels for Universities, Colleges and Polytechnics on a large scale.
- It is also proposed to launch a National Education Mission through Information and Communication Technology which will provide Broadband connectivity to all the institutions of higher learning numbering about 400 University level institutions and over 20,000 degree colleges besides making available high quality e-content for dissemination through the connectivity to be provided under this Mission.
The XI Plan would also accord priority to promote research of high quality across the Higher Education system, regular updating of curricula and emphasis on regular evaluation, enhancing coverage of the accreditation process, and introduction of necessary reforms in apex institutions like the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) so as to make them more responsive to current and future challenges and needs.
The National Board of Accreditation of India has been admitted as a provisional member of the Washington Accord during 2007. With this, Indian students graduating from programmes which are accredited by the National Board of Accreditation of the All India Council for Technical Education will have easier access to education and employment opportunities in member countries of the Accord like USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, Korea and Singapore.
The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions was set up by the present Government in 2004 through an Act of Parliament. The Act was also subsequently amended to strengthen this body. The Commission has, over the last 3 years or so, granted certificates of minority status to about 1000 educational institutions. A national level Committee under the Minister of HRD is regularly monitoring minorities’ education and giving valuable inputs for the formulation and implementation of the Ministry’s policies and programmes for minority education.
The present Government has paid special attention to the educational needs of the North Eastern Region. Every single State of this region now has a Central University (with Assam having two). Besides the existing IIT at Guwahati, an IIM will, as mentioned earlier, start functioning in the year 2008 through temporary premises at Shillong. Also, besides the older NIT at Silchar, an NIT has been established in Tripura and establishment of a third NIT in the region (in Manipur) is under active consideration.