The role of Universal Elementary Education (UEE) for strengthening the social fabric of democracy through provision of equal opportunities to all has been accepted since the inception of our Republic. With the formulation of NPE, India initiated a wide range of programmes for achieving the goal of UEE through several schematic and programme interventions, such as Operation Black Board,Shiksha Karmi Project,Lok Jumbish Programme,Mahila Samakhya,District Primary Education Programme etc.
Currently, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is implemented as India's main programme for universalising elementary education. Its overall goals include universal access and retention, bridging of gender and social category gaps in education and enhancement of learning levels of children. SSA provides for a variety of interventions, including inter alia, opening of new schools and alternate schooling facilities,construction of schools and additional provisioning for teachers,periodic teacher training and academic resource support, textbooks and support for learning achievement.These provisions need to be aligned with the legally mandated norms and standards and free entitlements mandated by the RTE Act.
The new law provides a justiciable legal framework that entitles all children between the ages of 6-14 years free and compulsory admission,attendance and completion of elementary education.It provides for children's right to an education of equitable quality, based on principles of equity and non-discrimination.Most importantly,it provides for children's right to an education that is free from fear,stress and anxiety.
While Primary Education is a basic enabling factor for participation and freedom, for trading a life with dignity and overcoming basic deprivation, secondary education is the gateway for prosperity, for transforming the economy and establishing social justice in any country. It opens the world of work to the youth of the country and contributes to socio economic development of the Community. Secondary Education is a crucial stage in the educational hierarchy as it prepares the students for higher education and also the world of work. With the liberalization and globalization of the Indian economy, the rapid changes witnessed in scientific and technological world and the general need to improve the quality of life and to reduce poverty, it is essential that schools leavers acquire a higher level of knowledge and skills than what they are provided in the eight years of elementary education, particularly when the average earning of a secondary school certificate holder is significantly higher than that of a person who has studied only up to class VIII. The policy at present is to make secondary education of good quality available, accessible and affordable to all young persons in the age group of 14-18.