Healthy and educated people make a vibrant democracy. India has been devoting considerable policy thrust for achieving "Education for all".

    The National Policy on Education (NPE),1986, aimed at making it "an effective instrument for taking the country into the 21st century". It envisages improvement and expansion of education in all sectors; elimination of disparities in access and stress on improvement in the quality and relevance of basic education. A modified NPE in its Programme of Action, 1992, called for making the `plus two stage" part of school education throughout the country.

    Education being a concurrent subject, the budgetary allocations and resource transfer for educational initiatives to the state have been steadily increasing. At present expenditure on education is less than 4% of GDP. State governments contribute nine-tenths of total,though the Central Government"s share has increased during the past decade and almost 40% of plan expenditure is funded by the Centre.

Universalisation of Elementary Education

    The NPE accords priority to Universalisation of Elementary Education ( UEE). Universal access, universal retention and Minimum Levels of Learning are the broad parameters to achieve UEE. These are aimed at providing school facilities within a walking distance of one km. for children of primary schools and three kms. for children of upper primary schools and strengthening of alternate mode of education, non- formal education for school drop-outs, working children and girls and Minimum Levels of Learning at the primary and upper primary stage.

    In terms of access, 94% of the rural population living in 8.26 lakh habitations have now a school within a walking distance of one km. and 84% of rural population have an upper primary school within a walking distance of three kms. There were 2.09 lakh primary and 0.13 lakh upper primary schools in 1950-51 which rose to 5.98 lakh and 1.77 lakh respectively by 1996-97.

    The growth in enrolment in primary and the upper primary classes during the period from 1991-92 to 1996-97 registered an increase of 9.42% and 15.2%, respectively. The drop out rates have shown a declining trend during the last five years. The decline is from 42% in 1991-92 to 39% in 1996-97 showing an overall decrease of three percentage points at the primary level. At the upper primary stage, the drop out rate was 58.7% in 1991-92 and it declined to 52.3% in 1996-97. Whereas, the drop out rate for boys in primary classes declined by one percentage point, for girls it declined by six percent points during the period 1991-92 to 1996-97.

Nutritional Support

    The National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education, commonly known as the Mid-day Meal Scheme launched on August 15, 1995,was intended to give a boost to primary education by increasing enrolment, retention and attendance in schools and at the same time augmenting nutritional levels. The number of children covered under the programme has risen from 3.4 crore in about 3.22 lakh schools in 1995-96 to 9.10 crore in about 6.41 lakh schools in 1997-98, thereby covering the whole of India.The number of teachers which was 7.51 lakh in gross terms in 1950-51 rose to 45.28 lakh in 1995- 96, a six fold increase.

    The programme of Non-Formal Education (NFE) - for "out of school children" has been expanded and consolidated. During the last five years, the number of NFE centres has increased by 42,000 and the number of voluntary agencies by 227. The programme now covers about 70 lakh children, the majority of them being girls, in 21 States/UTs in about 2.79 lakh centres. Of these, 118,000 centres are being run exclusively for girls, and 38,900 centres are being run by over 590 voluntary agencies, which are provided 100% central assistance under the programme.

Operation Blackboard

    The scheme of Operation Blackboard is aimed at improving class room environment by providing infrastructural facilities, additional teachers and teaching - learning material to primary schools. Significant progress has been made in the area of teacher training with 444 District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) sanctioned to provide pre-service and in-service training to elementary school teachers , for Adult Education and Non-Formal Education personnel.

    The District Primary Education Programme aims at operationalising the strategies for achieving UPE/UEE through district specific planning. The project is funded by 85% external agencies and the remaining 15% is shared by the concerned State governments.

    Currently, the scheme is under implementation in 149 low female literacy districts in 14 States - three districts in UP, 19 in Rajasthan, 14 in Andhra Pradesh, through IDA assistance. Other externally aided projects are the Rajasthan Shiksha Karmi project and the Lok Jumbish Project which are innovative projects aimed at universalising together with qualitative improvement of elementary education in remote and socially backward villages.

National Literacy Mission

    The National Literacy Mission (NLM) was set up in 1988 with the target of making 100 million persons in the age group of 15-35 literate in a phased manner. Under Total Literacy Campaign ( TLC ) and Post Literacy Campaign ( PLC ) 68.57 million persons covering 447 districts were made literate. Out of these, 60 per cent are women, 23 per cent SCs and 12 percent STs. At present, 215 districts are under Total Literacy Campaign, 173 districts under PLC and another 59 districts under the third stage of Continuing Education where the impetus built up in the first two stages is sought to be sustained together with elements of skill training.

Equal Opportunities

    Under the programme for better opportunities to the minorities, a provision of Rs.8.8 crore has been made in the Annual Plan outlay of 1998-99 in the Area Intensive Programme for Educationally Backward Minorities, Modernisation of Madarsas and coaching classes by UGC .

    Community Polytechnic with rural outreach centres have been operating since 1978-79 for bringing in Community Rural Development through S&T applications and non-formal training. The focus is on women, minorities, SC/ST/OBC and disadvantaged sections of society for self employment, the number of such polytechnic is now 442 and expected to reach 550.

    A programme to provide educational opportunities to disabled children on par with mild to moderate disabilities in the general schools system has been prepared. The scheme of IEDC is, currently being implemented in 24 States/UTs through more than 14,000 schools.

Secondary Education

    The number of secondary and senior secondary schools has increased from 0.07 lakh in 1950-51 to 1.02 lakh in 1996-97,resulting in not only an increase in the enrolment but also increase in the number of teachers ,including female teachers. The Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan manages 874 Kendriya Vidyalayas and its main activities include review and updating academic activities and programmes, vocationalisation, information technology, and computerisation .

    The Navodaya Vidyalaya Sangathan (NVS) has also taken up activities for extension of infrastructural facilities, introduction of vocational courses and construction of school buildings. Allocations for KVS and NVS has been enhanced substantially in the Annual Plan 1998-99 to Rs.100 crore to develop the infrastructural facilities. The National Open school has also been making significant contributions in the secondary and higher secondary levels. To promote the vocationalisation of education, facilities have been created for diversion of about 9.35 lakh students at the +2 level.

Technical Education

    To streamline the system of approval of new courses and programmes, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has issued regulations for establishment of new institutions and starting new courses. So far, the council has approved 585 institutes for MBA, 221 for MCA, 1,128 polytechnic and 552 Engineering Technology Institutes at the degree level.

    The Government has also decided to set up an Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management at Gwalior which will start functioning from the academic year 1998-99.

    The North Eastern Institute of Science & Technology (NERIST) has been conducting several courses, a target of spending 10% on various Centrally Sponsored schemes in the area will be strictly followed during 1998-99.

    Under the Apprentices Act, the spread of apprentices trained increased to 10,000 industrial establishments of the country in 90 technological/engineering subject fields. The facilities of National scheme of Apprenticeship Training has been extended to graduate engineers and technicians of SAARC Member States.

University and Higher Education

    All the Central Universities except the Indira Gandhi National Open University are funded by the Central Government through the University Grants Commission. IGNOU is funded directly by the Central Government for promoting the distance education system. Steps are being taken to further operationalise the Urdu University at Hyderabad and the Hindi University at Wardha. The Annual Plan outlay 1998-99 has accorded special importance to the teaching of Sanskrit at school and university level.


    A UNESCO Regional Institute for Special Education in India has been approved in principle and will be the first UNESCO Institute for Special Education in the world and only the second UNESCO institute to be set up in India.

New Initiatives

    Some of the initiatives taken in the Education sector include a new scheme for providing free education for girls up to college level including professional courses. An amount of Rs.100 crore has been earmarked for this scheme in the current year. It is also proposed to upgrade or set up 20 sports schools by suitably adapting the Navodaya schemes in different States. The schools would mainly be geared to physical disciplines and have some academic subjects in addition. An amount of Rs.20 crore has been earmarked in the current year for this purpose. A provision of Rs.10 crore has been made for upgradation of infrastructural facilities in Universities and colleges.

    A new Centrally Sponsored Scheme of strengthening of statistical machinery in States will be launched to strengthen the educational data base and to meet the international requirements of the educational statistics and also to meet the requirement of the World Education indicators. A notional provision of Rs. one crore has been provided in the current year.