Higher Education in India

District Primary Education Programme (DPEP)

District Primary Education Programme (DPEP)

District Primary Education Programme was a centrally sponsored scheme, funded by World Bank, several bilateral and multilateral agencies was launched in 1994. In this 85% of the project cost is shared by the Government of India and 15% by concerned project State. Both the Central share and State shares are passed on to state implementation societies directly as grants. This programme takes a holistic view of primary education and aims at providing access to primary education for all children by reducing primary drop-out rates, increasing learning achievement of primary school students and reducing the gap among gender and social groups. The programme is structured to provide additional inputs over and above the provisions made by the State Governments for elementary education. It fills in the existing gaps in the development of primary education and seeks to revitalize the existing system. DPEP is a contextual programme and has a marked gender focus. The programme components include construction of classrooms and new schools, opening of non-formal/alternative schooling centers, appointment of new teachers, setting up of block resource centers/cluster resource centers, teacher training, development of teaching learning material, research based interventions, special interventions for education of girls, SC/ST, etc. The components of integrated education to children with disability and a distance education component for improving teacher training have also been incorporated in the programme.

  1. Operation Blackboard

Recognizing the unattractive school environment, unsatisfactory condition of school buildings, inadequate physical facilities and insufficiency of instructional materials in primary schools, which function as de-motivating factors for enrolment and retention, a scheme symbolically called “Operation Blackboard” was introduced in 1987-88 with the aim of improving human and physical resources available in the primary schools of the country.

The term “Operation” implied that there was urgency in the programme, which had a predetermined time frame about its implementation and the term “Blackboard” symbolized physical facilities in schools both in terms of man and material. Under this scheme, each school is provided with:

 At least two reasonably large all-weather rooms along with separate toilet facilities for boys and girls.

 At least two teachers (one male and one female).

 Essential teaching and learning materials including blackboards, maps, charts, a small library, toys, games and some equipments for work experience.

 External evaluation of the scheme indicated the lack of training of teachers in using the teaching materials, specification of a large number of uniform facilities to be provided without modification according to local needs and lack of provision for breakage of equipment. Effective steps have since been taken to remove these drawbacks. The scheme of Operation Blackboard has also been modified and expanded to provide a third room and a third teacher to primary schools where enrolment exceeds 100, and it has been extended to upper primary schools. The scheme was concentrated on rural and SC/ST areas and girl schools were being given the first priority. 

  1. Shiksha Karmi Project (SKP)

Shiksha Karmi Project was started in Rajasthan in 1987 and remained in operation up to June 1988. It was a scheme jointly sponsored by Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Government of India and State of Rajasthan. It aimed at universalization and qualitative improvement of primary education in remote areas and socio-economically backward villages of Rajasthan with primary attention given to girls. It was a unique successful experiment with positive results and minimum costs. SKP of Rajasthan may be an effective alternative strategy. This project sought to solve the problem of teacher absenteeism and identifies it as a major obstacle in achieving the goal of UEE. Under SKP, regular teachers were replaced by local teachers who were less qualified but specially trained. The substitute teachers were known as “Shiksha karmi” with a minimum educational qualification of class VIII for men and class VI for women. The evaluation of the Scheme showed that the level of attainment of the students is comparable to that of those attending formal schools.

  1. Minimum Levels of Learning (MLL)

The need to lay down minimum levels of learning (MLL) emerged from the basic concern that irrespective of caste, creed, location or sex, all children must be given access to education of a comparable standard. The MLL strategy is an attempt to combine quality with equity. It lays down learning outcomes in the form of competencies or levels of learning for each stage of elementary education. The strategy also prescribes adoption of measures that will ensure achievement of these levels by children both in formal schools and in non-formal education centers.

The focus of the MLL strategy is development of competency-based teaching and learning. Preliminary assessment of the existing levels of learning achievements has revealed that they are quite low across several districts. Minimum levels of learning in respect of three subjects, namely language, mathematics and environmental studies, have already been laid down for the primary stage. It has been stressed that the emphasis should be on concept formation rather than on content. The burdens of non-comprehension and overload of content are forcing children to resort to rote memorization. The issues of content versus concept, understanding versus rote memorization, unachievable content load versus achievable set of competencies, have been integrated into the new MLL approach. Minimum levels of learning have been specified in terms of competencies expected to be mastered by every child by the end of a particu1ar class. The programme has been initiated throughout the country with the help of voluntary agencies, research institutions and others concerned.

  1. Non-Formal Education (NFE)

Non-formal education has become an accepted alternative channel of education for children who cannot attend full-time schools due to various socio-economic constraints. To reach this large segment of marginalized children, we in India have been running, since 1979-80, a programme of NFE for children in the 6-14 age groups, who have remained outside the formal system. These include drop-outs from formal schools, children from habitations without schools, working children, children who have to remain at home to do domestic chores and girls who are unable to attend formal schools for a variety of reasons. On Ist April, 2001 the Non-Formal Education (NFE) was converted into Education Guarantee Scheme and Alternative and Innovative Education and it was made a part of SSA.

  1. Lok Jumbish (People Mobilization)

An innovative project called Lok Jumbish (People‟s movement for Education for All) with assistance from Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) has been undertaken in Rajasthan in 1992. The basic objective of the project is to achieve Education for All, through people‟s mobilization and their participation. The project is implemented by the Lok Jumbish Parishad (LJP), an autonomous society registered under the Societies Registration Act. The project was implemented in three phases. The first phase was implemented during June 1992-1994 at a project cost of Rs.18 crores shared in the ratio of 3:2:1 among SIDA, Government of India and Government of Rajasthan. The duration of the second phase was enlarged from July 1995 to December 1999. The third phase of the project started from June 1999 with financial assistance from Department for International Development (DFID), UK and is up to June, 2004 with the total outlay of Rs.400 crore.

Project interventions were made in several components of primary education like teachers training, minimum levels of learning, opening of new schools, non-formal education centers. It has undertaken environmental technique activities like school mapping, opening new schools and up gradation of primary schools. The Lok Jumbish project has made a positive contribution to quality improvement through the development of improved MLL based textbooks from classes I-1V, which has been mainstreamed in all government schools of Rajasthan.

  1. Universal Elementary Education as a Fundamental Right (RTE)

After independence, the Government of India realized the significance of elementary education as it is the base of progress and accordingly incorporated article 45 in the Constitution. Since the progress in the field was not in accordance with the provisions of this Article, it was considered necessary to amend it to give more impetus.

Following amendments in the Constitution were made in 2002

Article 21A: “Right to Education: The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age six to fourteen years in such manner as state, may, by law determine.”

Article 45: “Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of 6 years-The State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children under the age of six years.”

(Substituted by the Constitution Eighty- sixth Amendment Act, 2002)

Article 51A(K): “Fundamental Duties- It shall be the duty of every citizen of India who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward the age of six and fourteen years.” (Inserted by the Constitution Eighty- sixth Amendment Act, 2002) Compulsory Education Acts already exist in 19 States but these have not been enforced on account of several constraints, primarily on account of lack of political will.

The historic law making education a fundamental right of every child came into force on April 1, 2010 after the Centre and States resolved issues for its implementation and agreed to share of funds in the ratio of 55:45. The Act makes it obligatory for the appropriate governments to ensure that every child gets elementary education. Some salient features of the Act are:

 Education became a fundamental right of every child in the age of 6-14 years and makes it obligatory for the governments to ensure that every child gets free elementary education.

 It mandates that even private educational institutions have to reserve 25% seats for children from weaker sections.

 There are nearly 22 crore children in the relevant age group. 4.6% of these children (nearly 92 lakh) are out of school.

 The Finance Commission has provided Rs. 25,000 crore to the States for the Act.

  1. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) launched in January 2002 is a historic stride towards achieving the long cherished goal of Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) through a time-bound integrated approach, in partnership with the States. It aims to change the face of elementary education in the country by providing useful and quality elementary education to all children in the age group of 6-14 years by 2010. There will be special focus on girls, children belonging to SC/ST communities, urban slum dwellers and low female literacy blocks. The programme seeks to open new schools in habitations which do not have schooling facilities and strengthen existing school infrastructure through provision of additional classrooms, toilets, drinking water, maintenance grant and school improvement grant.

 In order to achieve the goal of UEE in a holistic and convergent approach, key strategies have been worked out in consultation with States and Union Territories:

 Emphasis to be laid on retention and achievement rather than on mere enrolment.

 Adopting incremental approach for creating school facilities and education guarantee centers in unsaved habitations and “Back to school camp” for out of school children in the 10-14 age groups.

 Focus to be shifted from educationally backward states to educationally backward districts.

 Adopting desegregated approach with a focus on preparation of district specific and population specific plans.

 Universal access to schooling facilities particularly to girls, desegregated groups and school children.

 Improvement in school effectiveness, teacher competence, training and motivation.

 Convergence of different schemes of elementary education and related services such as early childhood care and


 Convergence of different schemes of elementary education and related services such as early childhood care and education, school health and nutrition programmes.

  1. National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE)

National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) commonly known as Mid Day Meal Scheme was launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (Department of Education) with effect from 15th August, 1995. The programme is designed to give a boost to the universalization of primary education by impacting upon enrolment, attendance, retention of students of primary schools and also to relate primary education with nutrition, health and integrated child development services (ICDS). Central assistance under the programme is to provide food grains, transportation charges for movement of food grains from FC1 (Food Corporation of India) godown to school/villages, salaries of cooks, helpers etc.

  1. National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NP-EGEL)

In July, 2003, Government of India approved a new programme called „National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level‟ (NP-EGEL) as an amendment to the existing scheme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) for providing additional support for education of under-privileged/disadvantaged girls at the elementary level. The Scheme is implemented in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs) where the level of female literacy is below and the gender gap is above the national average in blocks of districts which are not covered under EBBs but have at least 5 per cent SC/ST population and where SC/ST female literacy is below 10 per cent.

  1. Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme (KGBV)

Apart from NP-EGEL, a new scheme called Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) was approved for launching during 2004-05 for setting up 750 residential schools with boarding facilities at elementary level for girls belonging predominantly to the SC, ST and other backward castes (OBC) and minorities in difficult areas.

  1. Prathmik Shiksha Kosh

An education cess of 2 per cent on all direct and indirect central taxes has been imposed through the Finance (No.2) Act, 2004. Soon after the relevant Bill was introduced in Parliament on July 8, 2004, action was initiated for the creation of a separate, dedicated, non-lapsable fund to be named as „Prathmik Shiksha Kosh‟ and maintained by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Elementary Education and Literacy.

School age is a dynamic period of growth and development as children undergo physical, mental, emotional and social changes during this stage. It is a crucial period of life, as about 40% of the physical growth and 80% of the mental growth is believed to take place during this period. The purpose of education is to identify the inner potentialities of the individual and provide all kinds of nourishment so as to enhance healthy growth and development of the individual. Children are the most valuable human resources of the country. India has adopted National Policy for Children (1974) which recognize them as “the nation‟s supremely important asset” and “their nurture and solicitude as our responsibility”. Overcoming malnutrition through concerted and coordinated planning and implementation of projects involving the cooperation of all departments and agencies concerned is of paramount importance.

Neither a child that is hungry, nor a child that is ill can be expected to learn. Realizing this need the „National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (Mid Day Meal Scheme)‟ was launched on 15th August, 1995 in all government and government aided primary schools. India‟s Mid Day Meal Scheme is the world‟s largest school feeding programme reaching out to about fourteen crore children in over 9.50 lakh schools and EGS centers across the country. The programme is intended to give a boost to Universalization of Elementary Education by increasing enrolment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improving the nutritional status of the students in elementary classes. The historical evolution and progress of mid day meal in India can be seen in the following major phases.

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Pankaja Singh

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