Universal Elementary Education
It is to make education available to all the children between the ages of 6 to 14 or in class I – VII. This means the education to all children during Elementary or Primary either by formal education or Informal education.
The Universalisation of elementary education has been the most important goal of Indian since its independence.
By this, the parliament of India has passed the law, by 86th amendment Act 2002 to make elementary education a Fundamental Right for children aged 6-14.
The programme main objective is to make sure the five years of primary education for all the children and eight years of schooling.
Educational Development in India since 1951
Mass education was never a priority during the British period. The colonial rule transformed an intermediate literate society into a predominantly illiterate society.
Ever since Independence, an educational explosion has taken place in India.
“Today, the number of pupils in India outnumber the total population of England, France, Canada, and Norway taken together.J.B.G. Tilak
“Every sixth student in the world enrolled at the primary level, every seventh in the secondary level and every eighth in the tertiary level is an Indian”.
Before we launched our Five Year Plans, only about 1.2 percent of GNP was invested in education. But now the public investment increased to about 3.5 percent of GNP.
Though the educational expansion in India is remarkable quantity, quality and equity have become an elusive triangle of the Indian education system.
The greatest failure of the Indian educational system relates to the goal of universalization of elementary education. At the secondary level, vocationalization has not yielded the desired results.
Courses introduced in the vocational stream at the higher secondary level are of nominal nature and they do not really help the students get jobs.
And it is only the upper and the middle classes who get the benefits of the education system. Even after thirty years of independence, in 1978 it was found that “70 percent of the seats in secondary schools and 80 percent of the seats in higher education are taken up by the top 30 percent of income groups”.
There is no reason to believe that the position has changed for the better. There is a mismatch between demand for and supply of manpower and growth in unemployment and a fall in the quality of education.
The Indian education system is marked by inequalities. There are differences in the rates of literacy between rural and urban populations, between men and women, between backward and non-backward castes, between states, and between districts within a state.
One of the basic problems of the educational sector is under-investment. The data relating to the allocation of financial resources during the last fifty years confirms this point.
Only during the First Five Year Plan, priority was given to mass education. Elementary education and adult education programmes received nearly three-fifths of the resources allocated for education. There was a decline in the importance attached to them in subsequent plans.
We should have achieved the goal of universalization of primary education by 1960, that is, within ten years from the commencement of the Constitution. But, we are nowhere near the goal even today.
One of the secrets of the rapid economic development of Japan is the emphasis it laid on primary and vocational education and the allocation of huge financial resources to these sectors.
Child labor is one of the important reasons for not achieving the goal of universalization of primary education. And the majority of the children drop out of school because of this.