3.1 Universalisation of School Education, Right to Education and Universal Access

The Universalisation of School Education is an issue that requires much attention at the policy level. Elementary education constitutes a very important part of entire structure of education system. Universalisation of elementary education has been one of the most important goals of educational development in India since independence. Article 45 of the Indian constitution directed states to Endeavour to provide within a period of 10 years from the commencement of the constitution (1950) free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14 years. This resolved to be fulfilled by 1960. In spite of concerted efforts by the centre as well as state governments in promoting elementary education, the target of Universalisation of elementary education has not been achieved till date. The parliament has passed the constitution 86th amendment Act, 2002 to make elementary education a Fundamental Right for children in the age group of 6-14 years. Another development is Supreme Court judgment which interpreting the constitutional provision declared basic education as a fundamental right of every citizen requiring the state to make necessary provisions as a basic obligation. This was followed by a framework of partnership between the centre and the state governments on a massive scale through a number of centrally sponsored schemes such as District Primary Education Programme, Lok Jumbish Project, Mid Day Meal Scheme Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Education Guarantee Scheme, Alternative and Innovative Education, Shiksha Karmi Project, Janshala Programme etc. All these programmes aims at Universalisation and qualitative improvement of primary education in remote and socio-economically backward areas by increasing enrolment, attendance and retention and also improving nutritional status of children in primary classes.

There are some problems of elementary education such as out of school children, working children, or child labourers, parents ignorance family’s poor financial conditions, attitude of parents towards girl’s education, distance of the school from the place of residence, lack of provision of basic infrastructure and lack of women teachers in the school is another problem

·        To bring out of school children in the fold of elementary education child wise planning should be undertaken

·        Child labour should be minimized,

·        Fund for primary education should be increased

·        Part-time and alternate schools should be opened in large numbers.

Nevertheless, unless efforts to attract the children to schools and to retain them in schools by making both parents and children feel that schools are worthwhile, the success of elementary education may remain a distant dream in country’s developmental programmes.

The growing success of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) surely demonstrates that our country is learning the truth of that old adage. Indeed, SSA and its goal of Universal Elementary Education provides a sound basis for sustainable development. However, this is not enough. The growing number of children in the elementary school system is bringing pressure to bear on the need for further education. Universalisation of Secondary Education should now be our goal: this will generate creation of human capital and will provide sufficient conditions for accelerating growth and development and equity as also quality of life for everyone in India.

There is yet another persuasive logic to plead for Universal Secondary Education. This relates to the issue of equality and social justice as enshrined in the Constitution. From this notion has emerged the policy of reservations – the policy of Positive Discrimination – for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Such a crucial policy for benefiting the dalits and tribals cannot benefit the majority of these historically exploited sections of the society. This is because a large majority of children and youth belonging to SC and ST community do not have access to secondary education; less than 10% of the girls among SCs and STs have access to the + 2 stage. Without secondary or senior secondary education, benefits of reservation to SCs/STs will remain elusive.

Universalisation would then call for a paradigm shift in conceptualising secondary education in its structural as well as curricular dimensions. Only then one would expect it to become a powerful means of social transformation. Following four guiding principles may act as the pillars on which the edifice of Universal Secondary Education should be built in the years to come:

1.     Universal Access: Access is to be envisaged in physical, social, cultural and economic terms – all interwoven in a common concept. This calls for a redefinition of some of the basic features of the Indian school.

2.     Equality and Social Justice: These two fundamental principles as enshrined in the Constitution imply equality and social justice towards secondary education, inside secondary education and through secondary education. We must draw attention to at least six dimensions of equality and social justice for which the school system will have to strive for viz. (a) gender; (b) economic disparity; (c) social i.e. SCs/STs; (d) Cultural (including the issues of religious and linguistic diversity); (e) disability (both physical and mental), and (f) rural-urban.

3.     Relevance and Development: No education today can be accepted as being relevant unless it (a) helps in unfolding the full potential of the child; and (b) plays the role of linking the development of the child with the society and its political, productive and socio-cultural dimensions.

4.     Structural and Curricular Aspects: Curricular reforms cannot be delinked from structural reforms. There is a consensus today throughout the country with respect to the 10+2 pattern of school education, as recommended by the Education Commission (1964-66).

The four guiding principles, namely universal access, equality and social justice, relevance and development, and structural and curricular aspects as guiding principles together imply a paradigm shift necessary for moving towards the goal of Universalisation of Secondary Education. This shift is expected to simultaneously impact at the level of access, socio-cultural character, developmental objectives and structural-cum-curricular provisions of secondary education - all at the same time and throughout the nation. We do not, however, envisage a change overnight but what is required is an unambiguous commitment to a policy framework that will be necessary for translating this vision on the ground.

3.2 Issues of a) Universal enrolment b)Universal retention        c) Universal learning

Universal Enrolment of pupils:

Universalization of enrolment means all children between the age group 6-14 be enrolled by the primary schools. In order to achieve this end, States have brought into force Compulsory Primary Education Act. It is a sad commentary on our social system that the desired targets have not yet been published. The problem of universal enrolment in rural areas is more complicated.

The following factors push back the pace of progress:

(i) Ignorance and illiteracy of parents.

(ii) Lack of co-operation between school and local community.

(iii) Indifferent attitude of authority towards the desired enrolment.

(iv) Finance difficulties.

Universal retention of the enrolled children:

Universal retention means that after joining school, the child should remain there till he completes his school course. If the child leaves the school without completion of his course, the ideal of universalization of education stands defeated.

Universal retention means to ensure that every child progresses regularly from year to year, so that there is no stagnation and that lie dose not leave the school before the completion of the prescribed age and class. So there is no wastage. But it is found that most of the children leave schools at any stage before completion of their courses.

This ultimately results in the problems of wastage and stagnation. If a child leaves the primary school before the completion of his primary education course, we are talking in terms of wastage. In other-words, wastage means number of dropouts. But if a child takes more than the required time in a class to clear, it is a case of stagnation. Stagnation is synonymous with failure. Various studies have been undertaken to know the causes of wastage and stagnation. They have suggested certain measures to remedy those causes.

Most important suggestions put-forth by NCERT are as follows:

(i) Adjustment of school schedules.

(ii) Adjustment of school vocation.

(iii) Parental indifference to education.

(iv) Increasing, attracting and holding power of schools.

Qualitative Universal Learning:

Universalization of compulsory education has failed to catch up the desired target, because quality control of education has not been maintained. It is an open secret that the quality or standard has been neglected. Now it is time to think about quality with quantity. We cannot afford to slow down the pace of expansion. We need to provide good education for every child.

Following are some of the pressing Problems for qualitative learnings:

(i) Problem concerning teachers.

(ii) Problem concerning ancillary services.

(iii) Problem of classification of primary schools.

(iv) Problem of curriculum.

Problem of school building.

(vi) Problem of school facilities.

(vii) Problem of administration.

(viii) Problem of Finance.

If we are really keen to improve the quality of education, we must attach highest importance to the teachers.

Following attempts should be undertaken to improve the status of the teachers:

(i)               Remuneration of the teachers should be enhanced to attract better persons to the profession.

(ii)            To make education universal the state must find resources to provide ancillary services such as school health, mid-day meals, free supply of text books, writing materials, school uniform etc.

(iii)           The school curriculum should be covered through well planned projects.

(iv)          The Governments should provide suitable building to all the schools. For this purpose, village community should be persuaded to provide all the school facilities such as furniture’s, chalks and blackboards etc.

(v)            There should be Village School Committee in each village. Such a committee would look after the construction and maintenance of buildings, playground and school garden, provision for ancillary services, the purchase of equipment etc.. To discharge the duties, the committee will have sufficient funds by way of donations and grand-in- aid from the state government.

In the modem world, education has been used as a powerful instrument of social economic and political change with this end in view, many programmes of educational development such as expansion of primary and secondary education are underway.



3.3 Issues of quality and equity: physical, economic, social, cultural, and linguistic, particularly w.r.t girl child, weaker sections and disabled

The highest performing education systems are those that combine quality with equity. Equity in education means that personal or social circumstances such as gender, ethnic origin or family background, are not obstacles to achieving educational potential (definition of fairness) and that all individuals reach at least a basic minimum level of skills.

Quality is a systemic trait rather than only a feature of instruction or attainment. As an overarching attribute, quality expresses the system’s capacity to reform itself for enhancing its ability to remedy its own weaknesses and to develop new capabilities. Quality is not merely a measure of efficiency; it also has a value dimension. The attempt to improve quality of education will succeed only if it goes hand in hand with steps to promote equality and social justice. In the context of education two principles characterize most attempts to define quality: first learners’ cognitive development as the major explicit objective and second education’s role in promoting values and attitudes of responsible citizenship and in nurturing creative and emotional development.

Gender has to be recognised as a critical marker of transformation, and must become an important organising principle of the national and state curricular framework as well as every aspect of the actual curricula. Secondary stage curriculum should enable boys to question their own socialization into masculinity, and start the process of change in their personal relation and domestic life. They must be made to understand that in the ultimate analysis gender inequality doesn’t benefit anyone- it only leads to mistrust, insecurity and disharmony.

Gender Inequality: ‘The Position Paper of the National Focus Group on Gender Issues in Education,(NCERT,2006)’ points out that the overall enrolment of girls has increased, the dropout rate of girls from marginalised and rural sections, specially from the upper primary level upwards is extremely high. A sizeable proportion of out of school dropouts, chiefly migrant, poor and working children, are girls – school discontinuation rates of rural girls are twice as high as that of boys. Thus, the likelihood of an urban girl continuing in school is low, and of a rural girl reaching Class XII very unlikely. In real terms, what matters is not just access or enrolment but retention. While high costs of education is a social reason for poorer children not enrolling or dropping out of school, studies show that school factors are also responsible. The major reasons why children, both boys and girls, in both rural and urban area drop out are lack of interest in studies, hostile environment, poor teaching, non-comprehension, difficulties of coping, etc.

Marginalised Groups: While an unprecedented rise in enrolment is evident of strong demand for education among the SC and ST, accessing basic school is as yet a massive problem. Though school participation rates have increased but attendance rates are quite unsatisfactory at the elementary level which is still worse at the secondary stage. Drop out; failure and low scholastic achievement affect SC and ST to a far greater degree than non SC, and ST school children. Many of our schools now have large numbers of first generation learners. They would be completely dependent on the school for inculcating reading and writing skills and nurturing a taste for reading, and for familiarizing them with the language and culture of the school, especially when the home language is different from the language of school. Many such children are also vulnerable to conditions prevailing at home, which might make them prone to lack of punctuality, irregularity and inattentiveness in the classroom.

The cumulative impact of enrolment of the diverse group of children in schools leads to low rates of school completion. Gender disparities are conspicuous on all educational indicators revealing the under-education of girls. Gender and class along with tribe and caste constitute fundamental categories of exclusion. Furthermore, significant inter-state, inter-regional and rural- urban disparities exist in many states and regions. Intra-caste and intratribe variations are also sharp and indicate that the relatively more marginalised of SC and ST groups experience gross educational deprivation. Scheduled tribes appear to lag behind the scheduled castes in most states barring largely the North – Eastern regions, due to specific socio-historical factors.

School curriculum and pedagogy must provide opportunities for every child’s learning and her free, creative and multidimensional development. The culture and experiences that the SC or ST Child brings to the school must be integral to an egalitarian teaching learning process in fulfilment of the goal of a meaningful education for all children.


 3.4 Equal Educational Opportunity: Meaning of equality and constitutional provisions, Prevailing nature and frms of inequality, including dominant and minority groups and related issues.

India is a democratic country. The success of democracy depends upon education of its citizens. Education should aim at total development of individual’s personality. Modem education is a process of learning from real life and from the pulsating, dynamic society around us. So the learning from real life and from the pulsating, dynamic society around us and thus the learning should be at the choice and pace of the learner. It is only in this way that education becomes relevant to life. So educational opportunities are to be provided to individuals to develop their personalities into the fullest extent.

The Constitution of India also writes for the provision of educational opportunities to all peoples of the country. Since education is one of the most important means for development, it is through education that one can aspire to achieve higher status, position and emolument. So every individual should have similar opportunities for getting education.

Ordinarily, equality of opportunity means to give equal chance to every individual for the development of his capacity. The concept of equality of opportunity can be interpreted in two ways such as horizontal equality and vertical equality. The horizontal equality treats all constituents in equal manner whereas the vertical equality requires special consideration to bring about equality of opportunity.

There is a great need for emphasizing the equality of opportunity in education due to the following reasons:

1. It is needed for the establishment of an egalitarian society.

2. It is needed because it is through the education to all people in a democracy that the success of democratic institution is assured.

3. The equality of educational opportunities will ensure a rapid advancement of a nation. When the people have opportunities to get education, they will have a chance to develop their natural talent and thus enrich the society.

4. The equality of educational opportunity will extend the search of talent among all the people of a nation.

5. It will help to develop a close link between the manpower needs of a society and the availability of skilled personnel.

Problems of equality of Educational Opportunities:

In India there are some reasons which create inequality of educational opportunities.

·        Difference in economic status of home.

·        Gender disparities.

·        Regional Imbalance.

·        Physiological difference.

·        Difference in home conditions.

·        Disparity between backward and advanced classes.

·        Non-availability of adequate opportunities.

·        Difference in mental and physical abilities.

Measures taken for Equalization of Educational Opportunity:

Equalisation of educational opportunities has been one of the major objectives of the successive Five-Year Plans. Considerable works in this respect has been done through the programme of expansion of educational facilities at the elementary, secondary and university stages. For achieving the target of equality of educational opportunity in India our efforts must be directed in many directions for recognizing the educational system.

Some of the directions are as follows:

1. Constitutional Provisions:

On the basis of the constitutional provisions we must provide compulsory elementary education to all children of the country. Democracy, socialism, secularism, justice and equality are to a be cultivated through the provision of equalizing educational opportunity for establishing an egalitarian society.

2. Debarring restriction on admission in educational institutions:

Admission to educational institutions has been made available to all irrespective of caste and religion.

3. Wide distribution of Institutions:

Educational institutions have been opened in large numbers in order to provide opportunity to all for getting education.

4. Provision of Pre-school education:

In order to overcome wastage and stagnation in primary education, Pre-school education is to be given priority. Pre-school education centres like Balwadi, Anganwadi etc. have been opened and are to be set up in large scale.

5. Provision of scholarship and other facilities:

Provision of free ship6 and scholarships are being made for the backward and disadvantaged groups.

6. Special treatment for S.C., S. T. and Other Backward Communities:

Special treatment as being made for S.C., S.T and Other Backward Communities in relation to reservation of seats, provision of different types of scholarships to ensure equality in education.

7. Residential School:

In tribal areas, residential schools or Ashram schools have been set up. Kanyashram schools have been commissioned in the tribal areas to facilitate education of girls.

8. Special education of the handicapped:

Steps have been taken for the education and training of blind, deaf, orthopaedically handicapped and educable sub-normal children by the government and voluntary organisations.

In this way all steps are being taken to provide equality and equity in education so that no person remains deprived of the right of education. Various provisions of Indian Constitution clarified above are sufficient to prove, that, in the present day Indian social structure, no individual is discriminated against on the bases of religion, caste class, sex etc. Instead, the democratic system makes an attempt at establishing equality from every point of view and shows the highest possible respect for the democratic principle of individual equality.


3.5 Inequality in Schooling: Public-private schools, rural-urban schools, single teacher schools and other forms of inequalities such as regular and distance education system

Public and Private School

In India, there are two types of schools – the government owned and aided ones, and the privately owned schools. The government schools are indeed doing a commendable job of making education available to a greater number of people and are normally doing it for free or for fees that are really within the reach of everyone. They are of great help for people in urban areas for whom it is impossible to get their children to the more expensive private and government aided schools and in the rural areas, perhaps, they are the only ways in which children can get educated and dream of a better future. However, some teething problems do remain.

The government schools are not known to provide the standard of education and facilities for the students that are available at the ones that are aided by them as well as the private schools. In addition, these schools also see the wards dropping out a few years after starting with their education. Perhaps a major reason for this phenomenon is the paucity of jobs for the educated youth in India especially in the rural areas.

The government aided schools also offer similar facilities and are well equipped to include children from the economically backward sections in the region in which they are based. The same cannot be said of most of the governmental schools though.

The facilities over here are mostly in the same league with the private or even government aided schools and this is the reason that they are perhaps not in the position to prepare their students as well as the other two classes. However, since they have the maximum number of students, this implies that most of India’s youth is not well prepared to take on high level jobs and responsibilities. This inequality in human resource development is hurting India in several ways – it is not allowing the fullest development of the country’s potential workforce and is also perhaps influencing the decision of companies in India and outside to branch out to the rural centers with the sort of high paying and intelligence oriented jobs that are now the sole preserve of a few cities across the country.

Rural-urban schools


Indian economy is pre-dominantly rural. Though a significant number of country’s population lives in rural areas, rural-urban inequalities in the quality and quantity of education are quite striking.


Since the 1990s, many government primary schools are set up in rural areas representing a concerted effort on the part of the central and state governments to increase access to primary education. Although the presence of so many schools in rural areas may therefore appear positive in terms of access and the quantity of available school places, there are serious concerns about the quality of education which these schools are able to provide. For example, while schools are expected to meet the needs of the national curriculum, teachers often spend a significant amount of time on tasks other than teaching. So, in addition to the inherent difficulties of working in economically deprived areas and with scarce resources, they may also be responsible for completing all of a school’s administrative tasks, arranging for the provision of mid-day meals (a nationally-mandated government policy), maintaining records for attendance and periodic medical check-ups, conducting household surveys for the national census, and administering preventative polio medication to each student, among other things. Unlike their counterparts in urban schools, teachers in rural schools are also expected to teach more than one grade level at a time. The difficulties of multi grade classroom management, scarcity of teaching and learning support, and problems with sub-standard school and classroom infrastructure, all tend to result in unmotivated teachers, a low standard of education, and high drop-out rates.

A comparison of rural vs. urban schools in India

The expected differences were found between rural and urban areas in school characteristics.

1.     Rural students tend to be more homogeneous than urban students.

2.     Parents of rural students were less likely to expect their children to advance their education.

3.     There are many schools in cities and towns whereas; there are very few schools in villages and the rural areas.

4.     There are transportation facilities like bus pick and in urban schools where as children in rural areas have to walk miles to reach their schools.

5.     Basic amenities like no drinking water in provided in some of the schools in villages.

6.     Level of education in urban schools is far advanced as compared to the basic level taught in rural schools.

7.     Computer education is given high importance in urban areas where as very few schools in villages give computer training.

8.     Group classes are taken by using video conferencing and audio conferencing in urban schools where as no such facilities are provided for students in rural schools.

In the urban areas, the problems, or rather the gaps, are of a different dimension. In the cities and towns there are the private schools that provide the best of facilities to their students and ideally are preparing them for a better future. However, the problem is that their fee structure puts them out of the reach of most and they are understandably not willing to lower the same since they require sufficient capital to procure the facilities they offer to the students.

Single Teacher schools

The Right to Education guidelines prescribe one teacher for every 30-35 students in government and private schools. While single-teacher schools were introduced to address the educational needs of children in marginalised and remote habitations, they compromise the basic parameters of quality education. Such institutions jeopardise factors such as classroom transactions, individualised attention to children, and continuous and comprehensive evaluation – all of which are essential. Shortage of teachers, the main reason for the existence of such schools, is a concern in many states.

Single-teacher schools are one of India’s oldest traditions in education. In the Vedic Period, for instance, education was mostly a family affair and ordinarily, each father used to initiate his son into the Vedic lore and the profession of his caste.

Reasons for creating and maintaining single-teacher schools

·        regions have small numbers of school age children;

·        The decrease and migration of rural populations; villages are remote and isolated;

·        Geographical or climatic conditions;

·        Cultural or socio-economic conditions preventing attendance at regular school;

·        Deprived and inaccessible communities;

·        The permanent settling of nomadic schools;

·        The lack of teachers;

·        A policy of locating schools near the parents’ residence;

·        It is the only form of school to reach remote or border communities;

·        A desire to provide educational opportunities for all children;

Distance and Regular Education

Distance Learning is where you don't need to attend the classes on a daily basis. But instead you have to attend for the classes only on Sundays. Within that one day in a week, you will be imparted subject knowledge. So, due to this, you may or may not understand the subject. You have to prepare yourself of the respective syllabus for various subjects which are under your chosen course and have to get through final examinations. So, self motivation, dedication, self feedback is very much essential for the candidate to finish a particular course through Distance Learning.
In contrast to this, in case of Regular Learning, the candidate has to attempt for the classes on a daily basis in the where he has joined to pursue a particular course. 
Due to this kind of learning, there are number of benefits for the candidates.
They can clarify any doubt as there is direct interaction with the Lecturers. They get a chance to participate in various activities with other classmates’ like Group Discussions, Mock Interviews, Quiz, Seminars etc. As there is direct interaction for the candidate with other classmates, he can discuss various points with his friends and they too can share their ideas. So, Collective work is being generated and good subject knowledge is being attained to the candidate.