Free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of fourteen is the constitutional commitment in India. Despite spectacular quantitative expansion in every sphere of elementary education, the goal to achieve universal enrolment is still a far distant dream in a real sense. While adopting the constitution in 1950, the goal of UEE was to be achieved in ten years i.e. 1960. Keeping in view the educational facilities available in the country at that time, the goal of UEE was far too ambitious to achieve in a short span of ten years. Hence, the target date was revised several times.
During the decade 1991-2001, a number of Centrally Sponsored Schemes, as well as, new programmes and projects were initiated across the Country. The Operation Blackboard (OBB) Scheme initiated in 1987 also got momentum during this period so as the large number of District Institutes of Educational Training (DIETs) established across the Country. The Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Project (APPEP), Bihar Education Project (BEP), UP Basic Education Project, Lok Jumbish and Shiksha Karmi projects of Rajasthan and District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) were the main state-specific programmes initiated during 1991-2001. The mid-day meal scheme was also initiated during this period. Primary education remained the focus of all these programmes.
The DPEP which came to an end in 2000 was implemented in 272 districts across 18 states. The most recent ambitious programme, namely Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) was launched by the Government of India in 2001 envisaged covering all non-DPEP districts before the end of the Ninth Five-Year Plan with a focus on the entire elementary level of education. Initially, the focus of SSA was to further strengthen infrastructure in schools which was later shifted initially to increase enrolment (in terms of enrolment ratio, drop-out, and transition rate) and later focused more on improving quality of education. Under the aegis of SSA, a number of programmes were launched and several studies were conducted (mostly by the Technical Support Group of SSA) in the beginning but later the momentum couldn’t be maintained.
One of the significant visible achievements of SSA was strengthening the Educational Management Information System (EMIS) through DISE/U-DISE initiatives which had later acquired the status of the Official Statistics in 2012-13. Initially, the aim of SSA was to bring all the out-of-school, never enrolled, and dropped-out children back to school by 2003, achieve UPE by 2007, and UEE with satisfactorily Quality of Education by 2010 but nobody knows what had happened to all these targets, how much they achieved and what is the amount of the unfinished task.
Targets of 2003, 2005, and 2010 show the National commitment but no state-specific targets were set down in the process of which all states including Kerala and Bihar were given the same year to achieve the objectives of SSA. Neither district-specific target was set down. A thorough diagnosis exercise would have revel how many years a state and district would take to achieve the goal of UPE and UEE but the momentum of data analysis couldn’t be maintained barring an initial period of SSA. Later the concept of participatory planning lost focus so as the development of district plans in a decentralized mode.
A number of capacity building programmes with an emphasis on the data analysis and use of indicators in planning were conducted across the county. Barring the initial period, later district plans started formulating at the State level and planning teams remained on paper. In most of the cases, Block Development Plans as envisaged in SSA couldn’t be developed so as the School Development Plans based on which District plans were envisaged to be developed. In 2007, SSA extended to the secondary level of education in the form of Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA).
In 2009, Right to Education was enacted ensuring that every child of age 6 to 14 years is enrolled because of which there is no target year by which UPE and UEE are to be achieved which is still been continued. The local authorities are supposed to identify out-of-school children at the beginning of an academic year which is then to provide special training of 2 months to 3 years and then to make them sit in the age-appropriate class. No data is available as to how many such students were made to sit in a class and how many of them continued and have completed Grade V and VIII. Change in the planning methodology because of RTE is also not available in the public domain but district plans continued to be developed based on the EXCEL Tables.
SSA inherited a legacy of rich experience of DPEP but it couldn’t sustain many of the best practices of the DPEP and it had become a routine and mechanical exercise year after year and lost focus. During the entire period of SSA, 2001 to 2018, it was never externally reviewed barring annual review by the Joint Review Mission even though there was a change in the federal government. For about 15 years, SSA plans were being formulated, appraised, approved and money released based on the 50+ Excel Tables provided by the Technical Support Group of SSA.
In the initial years of SSA, the process of plan formulation was a bit scientific but later everything gained over the previous such programmes lost and plans lack academic flavor. NIEPA is said to be known as an apex body in the areas of capacity building and planning and had played an important role during DPEP implementation. But so far as the SSA is concerned its planning methodology, barring an initial period is not in the public domain. It never took up the issue of plans being formulated based on EXCEL Sheets with the Ministry of HRD in the absence of which the outcome of the capacity building programmes which it had conducted is not reflected in the plans being formulated. But such programmes conducted by the NIEPA have contributed immensely to developing an understanding of both the district and state-level officers in the areas of MIS, indicators of educational development, planning methodology, and data analysis which is true for both SSA and RMSA. In each state, one person well versed engaged in planning over years and have a good understanding of SSA and RMSA parameters, use of indicators, and its implication for planning can be identified but such officers are not large in number.
NIEPA faculty played important role at the beginning of SSA and conducted a good number of programmes on planning methodology and have also played important role in Appraisal Missions constituted by the Ministry but this exercise which was found useful by both the members of appraisal as well states discontinued for unknown reasons; instead, the concept of internal appraisal was introduced which was never found effective.
Whatever one wants to achieve can only be achieved through the active participation of teachers for which provision of in-service was made in SSA. During SSA the focus of capacity building of teachers was transferred from DIET to Block Resource Centers across the County. By and large, DIET continues to engage in B.Ed and Diploma programmes and few programmes it used to conduct were also decided at the State level (generally SCERT) which is generally not found need-based and as per the requirement of teachers but the same was an easy tool to spend a good amount of money allotted. The quality of school education was also badly reflected by the provisions of RTE, namely no detention and no exam policy at the elementary level of education which resulted in demand by the states to scrap the same which was later approved by the parliament through amendment in the Constitution.
Even though SSA was extended to the Secondary level through RMSA but the same was limited only to Government schools and even aided schools were not covered. One of the other limitations of the programme was the issue of prioritization because of which during the initial period of SSA schools were opened where they were not viable to be opened which were later merged with other schools or a few of them were even closed down. This was also true for the construction of additional classrooms and other facilities. Despite all these limitations, significant progress was made during the SSA period but the same was focused more on to further strengthen infrastructure in schools or on input variables.
At the end of SSA, the following set of data reveals the progress made and the size of the unfinished task.
As it seems that most of the indicators have improved over a period of time but the drop-out rate remained high which would significantly influence the objective of universal school enrolment. Another important issue is the decline in enrolment across school levels over a period of time is a major area of concern that must be thoroughly examined to find out the exact causes of decline which is across the country. Net Enrolment Ratio is 85 percent which if not further improve to significant effect, enrolment in other higher levels cannot improve. Needless to mention that enrolment in upper primary and other higher levels can only improve if enrolment in primary classes is further improved which would happen only if the efficiency of the primary level of education is improved. This is also true for Higher Education which unless received an adequate number of Higher Secondary graduates, cannot increase on its own. Till recently plans were being developed separately for the elementary and secondary level of education, which now under Samagra Shiksha, are supposed to be developed for the entire School education level as one entity by one planning team but as of now the same old model of developing plans based on EXCEL Sheets is still going on. The only difference is that the entire set of EXCEL Tables are divided into three parts, elementary and RTE, Teacher education, and Secondary and higher secondary levels of education which are then provided to the person-in-charge looking after these components under the aegis of Samagra Shiksha. Hardly any research studies have been undertaken to see the impact of SSA and RMSA and whether its objectives have been achieved and if not, what are the reasons for non-achievement.
It may also be of interest to know that two separate district plans were used to be developed one each for elementary under SSA and another secondary level of education under RMSA by the two different agencies. In the initial years of RMSA, even there were two separate JRMs as well as PAB to approve annual plans. Till 2011-12, even DISE was also separately been managed by the Office of SSA and RMSA with a provision of two Data Capture Formats, one online application for SEMIS and another off-line software for SSA, two Nodal officers, one each for SSA an RMSA but there was only one data entry point because of which there was a lot of duplicity of efforts being made towards achieving the goal of school education in India. Maybe because of these reasons, Samagra Shiksha was launched in 2018-19 to meet the challenges of unfinished tasks of school education in India.
The Union Budget, 2018-19, has proposed to treat school education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class 12. Samagra Shiksha – an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class 12 has been, therefore, prepared with the broader goal of improving school effectiveness measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and equitable learning outcomes. It subsumes the three erstwhile Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
This sector-wide development programme/scheme would also help harmonise the implementation mechanisms and transaction costs at all levels, particularly in using state, district and sub-district level systems and resources, besides envisaging one comprehensive strategic plan for development of school education at the district level. The shift in the focus is from project objectives to improving systems level performance and schooling outcomes which will be the emphasis of the combined Scheme along-with incentivizing States towards improving quality of education.
The Goal SDG-4.1 states that “By 2030, ensure that all boys and girls complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.
Further the SDG 4.5 states that “By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of Education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations”
The scheme envisages the ‘school’ as a continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary to Senior Secondary levels. The vision of the Scheme is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education from pre-school to senior secondary stage in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for Education.
The major objectives of the Scheme are provision of quality education and enhancing learning outcomes of students; Bridging Social and Gender Gaps in School Education; Ensuring equity and inclusion at all levels of school education; Ensuring minimum standards in schooling provisions; Promoting Vocationalisation of education; Support States in implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009; and Strengthening and up-gradation of SCERTs/State Institutes of Education and DIET as a nodal agencies for teacher training.
The main outcomes of the Scheme are envisaged as Universal Access, Equity and Quality, promoting Vocationalisation of Education and strengthening of Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs).
The Scheme will be implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme by the Department through a single State Implementation Society (SIS) at the State/UT level. At the National level, there would be a Governing Council headed by Minister of Human Resource Development and a Project Approval Board (PAB) headed by Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy. The Governing Council will be empowered to modify financial and programmatic norms and approve the detailed guidelines for implementation within the overall Framework of the scheme. Such modifications will include innovations and interventions to improve the quality of school education. The Department will be assisted by a Technical Support Group (TSG) at Educational Consultants of India Limited (EdCIL) to provide technical support in functional areas pertaining to access, equity and quality education by merging the TSGs of the Schemes of SSA, RMSA and TE. States would be expected to bring a single Plan for the entire school education sector.
The fund sharing pattern for the scheme between Centre and States is at present in the ratio of 90:10 for the 8 North-Eastern States viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura and 3 Himalayan States viz. Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and 60:40 for all other States and Union Territories with Legislature. It is 100% centrally sponsored for Union Territories without Legislature. This is in accordance with the recommendations of the Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Rationalization of Centrally Sponsored Schemes received in October, 2015.
The major interventions, across all levels of school education, proposed under the scheme are: (i) Universal Access including Infrastructure Development and Retention; (ii) Gender and Equity; (iii) Inclusive Education; (iv) Quality; (v) Financial support for Teacher Salary; (vi) Digital Initiatives; (vii) RTE Entitlements including uniforms, textbooks etc.;(viii) Pre-school Education; (ix) Vocational Education; (x) Sports and Physical Education; (xi) Strengthening of Teacher Education and Training; (xii) Monitoring; (xiii) Programme Management; and (xiii) National Component. It is proposed that preference in the interventions would be given to Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs), LWEs affected districts, Special Focus Districts (SFDs), Border areas and the 117 Aspirational districts (http://188.8.131.52/(X(1)S(gxlq4145meo20p454lnggb55))/web/aspi_home1.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1). The main emphasis of the Scheme is on improving quality of school education by focusing on the two T’s –Teacher and Technology. The strategy for all interventions under the Scheme would be to enhance the Learning Outcomes at all levels of schooling. The scheme proposes to give flexibility to the States and UTs to plan and prioritize their interventions within the scheme norms and the overall resource envelope available to them. Funds are proposed to be allocated based on an objective criteria based on enrolment of students, committed liabilities, learning outcomes and various performance indicators.
The Scheme will help improve the transition rates across the various levels of school education and aid in promoting universal access to children to complete school education. The integration of Teacher Education would facilitate effective convergence and linkages between different support structures in school education through interventions such as a unified training calendar, innovations in pedagogy, mentoring and monitoring, etc. This single scheme will enable the SCERT to become the nodal agency for conduct and monitoring of all in-service training programmes to make it need-focused and dynamic. It would also enable reaping the benefits of technology and widening the access of good quality education across all States and UTs and across all sections of the Society.
MAIN FEATURES OF SAMAGRA SHIKSHA Holistic approach to education
Treat school education holistically as a continuum from Pre-school to Class 12
Inclusion of senior secondary levels and pre-school levels in support for School education for the first time
Single and unified administrative structure leading to harmonized implementation
Flexibility to States to prioritise their interventions under the Scheme
An integrated administration looking at ‘school’ as a continuum
Focus on Quality of Education
Enhanced focus on improving quality of education by focus on the two T’s – Teachers and Technology
Enhanced Capacity Building of Teachers and School Heads
Focus on strengthening Teacher Education Institutions like SCERTs and DIETs to improve the quality of prospective teachers in the system
SCERT to be the nodal institution for in-service and pre-service teacher training – will make training dynamic and need-based.
Support for Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan to promote Science and Maths learning in schools.
Support Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat Programme to develop foundational skills at primary level.
Provision of library grants for every school ranging from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 20000.
Focus on Digital Education
Support ‘Operation Digital Board’ in all secondary schools over a period of 5 years, which will revolutionize education- easy to understand, technology based learning classrooms will become flipped classrooms.
Enhanced use of digital technology in education through smart classrooms, digital boards and DTH channels
Digital initiatives like UDISE+, Shagun, to be strengthened
Strengthening of ICT infrastructure in schools from upper primary to higher secondary level.
Strengthening of Schools
Enhanced Transport facility to children across all classes from I to VIII for universal access to school
Composite school grant increased from Rs. 14,500-50,000 to Rs. 25,000- 1 Lakh and to be allocated on the basis of school enrolment.
Specific provision for Swachhta activities – support ‘Swachh Vidyalaya’
Improve the Quality of Infrastructure in Government Schools
Focus on Girl Education
Upgradation of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) from Class 6-8 to Class 6-12.
Self-defence training for girls from upper primary to senior secondary stage
Enhanced Commitment to ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’
Focus on Inclusion
Allocation for uniforms under RTE Act enhanced from Rs. 400 to Rs. 600 per child per annum.
Allocation for textbooks under the RTE Act, enhanced from Rs. 150/250 to Rs. 250/400 per child per annum. Energized textbooks to be introduced.
Allocation for Children with Special Needs (CwSN) increased from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 3500 per child per annum. Stipend of Rs. 200 per month for Girls with Special Needs from Classes 1 to 12.
Focus on Skill Development
Exposure to Vocational Skills at Upper Primary Level would be extended.
Vocational education for Class 9-12 as integrated with the curriculum and to be made more practical and industry oriented.
Reinforce emphasis on ‘Kaushal Vikas’
Focus on Sports and Physical Education
Sports Education to be an integral part of curriculum
Every school will receive sports equipments at the cost of Rs. 5000 for Primary Schools, Rs. 10,000 for upper primary schools and up to Rs. 25,000 for secondary and senior secondary schools to inculcate and emphasize relevance of sports.
Focus on Regional Balance
Promote Balanced Educational Development
Preference to Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs), LWE affected districts, Special Focus Districts (SFDs), Border areas and the 117 aspirational districts identified by Niti Aayog
Users are advised to visit Official website of the Ministry of Education and are also advised to access hard copy of the circulars/reports and other documents issued by Ministry of Human Resource Development/Ministry of Education from time to time. Only the authentic documents issued by the authorities be used. Further, complete reference of document used be provided in writing in any form.