The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is a flagship programme of the Government of India that aims to provide quality education to all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. The programme has also helped in improving the quality of education provided in government schools. The 86th Amendment to the Constitution of India makes free and compulsory education to children between the ages of 6 to 14 a fundamental right (Article 21A).
The Indian Constitution was amended in 2001 to make education a fundamental right. Prior to this amendment, education was not treated as a fundamental right but as a directive principle of state policy. The programme was pioneered by former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and aims to educate all children by 2010. However, the time limit has been pushed forward indefinitely due to the slow progress of the program.
Objectives of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
- All children to be in school, Education Guarantee Centre, Alternative School, “back to School campus” by 2003.
- All children complete five years of primary schooling by 2007.
- All children complete eight years of schooling by 2010.
- Focus on elementary education of satisfactory quality with emphasis on education for life.
- Bridge all gender and social category gaps at primary stage by 2007 and at elementary education level by 2010.
- Universal retention by 2010.
Components of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
The components of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan includes appointment of teachers, teacher training, qualitative improvement of elementary education, provision of teaching learning materials, establishment of Block and Cluster Resource Centres for academic support, construction of classrooms and school buildings, establishment of education guarantee centres, integrated education of the disabled and distance education.
SSA now has Non-Formal Education (NFE) and Alternative Schooling (AS) as important components. The Government policy emphasizes Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) will also retain three components.
As part of SSA, every district would prepare a district elementary education plan, including the EGS and AIEs. There would be a variety of interventions for school improvement in regular schools, early childhood education, and out-of-school education (SSA, MHRD document, 2001).
Non-Formal Education (NFE)
A certain subgroup within the population is provided with the opportunity to benefit from the Non-Formal Education (NFE) system as it complements the formal education system. Indians are overwhelmingly poor, living in both rural and urban areas in pitiful conditions. As a result, a large number of children living in villages, urban slums and inaccessible areas could not join the formal school, for a variety of reasons. In order to improve the quality of life for these subgroups, Non-Formal Education (NFE) may prove beneficial. This was the reason why in 1978, the Government of India introduced the Non-Formal Education (NFE) model of education. NFE was aimed at bringing dropouts and non-schooling children into the mainstream of education.
Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE)
To bring all out-of-school children into elementary education, EGS and AIE are two major components of SSA. The scheme proposes child-wise planning for each out-of-school child. Inaccessible communities are those where there is no formal school within a radius of one km and at least 15-25 children of 6-14 years old do not go to school. It is possible to open an EGS school even for 10 children in remote habitations in hilly regions in exceptional cases.
Under EGS and AIE, children in the 9+ age group, especially adolescent girls, are being supported with alternative education interventions, e.g., street children, migrants, working children, children living in difficult circumstances, and older children in the 9+ age group.
Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat
An integral part of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat is a nationwide program. As part of the ‘Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat Programme’, Government Primary School children were educated and encouraged to be competitive. A major goal of this program is to awaken the consciousness of education among future generations, the leaders of the country of the future.
This program includes promoting the language quality as well as reading and writing habits of students. The awareness program was conducted in all primary schools. The program is designed to improve children’s reading and writing habits over a period of two months. In all primary schools, competitions to encourage children to read and write are then organized afterward. This will improve the students’ reading and writing skills and make the art of reading easier for them in primary schools.
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Failures of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
Even though the government offers free and compulsory education, many people in remote areas still fail to send their children to school. There is an inadequacy of funds which leads to a lack of learning materials and poor infrastructure that ultimately discourage parents of children to join the school.
In spite of the fact that education is free, parents still incur some expenses, which may prevent them from sending their children to school if they belong to a poor social class. There is a lack of coordination between the local community and the educational institutions, which leads to issues with universalizing elementary education.
Conclusion of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
An important step forward for the government, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is a comprehensive and integrated flagship program. In partnership with the State, the Government of India will achieve the long-cherished goal of Universalising Elementary Education (UEE) within a time-bound, integrated approach. The program responds to the demand for quality basic education throughout the nation.