At the time of independence in 1947, India inherited an educational system which was not only quantitatively small but was also characterised by striking regional and structural imbalances. Only 14 percent of the population was literate and only one child out of three had been enrolled in primary school. The low levels of enrolment and literacy were compounded by acute regional and gender disparities. Recognizing that education is vitally linked with the totality of developmental process, the reform and restructuring of the educational system was accepted as an important area of state intervention. Accordingly, the need for a literate population and universal education for all children in the age group 6-14 was provided with a precisely defined and delineated framework in the Indian Constitution as well as in successive five year plans.

The continuous efforts made by the Government and other agencies have made its impact in various aspects of Indian education system for better though anomalies still exist in them. Efforts are still on to improve the educational system in India and the changes are seen in different areas of education. The development that has taken place during the period in various aspects of education has its impact on social, political, cultural, technological, and other fields. Reciprocally, these aspects have worked in the direction of development of education. This chapter is dedicated to the analysis of effects of development on educational outcomes especially of ‘Mass schooling‘ and ‘Higher education.‘


Constitutional commitment to ensure free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14 years, under the scheme of universal elementary education has been a salient feature of national policy since independence. This resolve has been spelt out emphatically in the National Policy of Education (NPE) 1986, and the Programme of Action (POA) 1992. A number of schemes and programmes were launched in pursuance of the emphasis embodied in the NPE and the POA. These included the scheme of Operation Blackboard (OB); Non Formal Education (NFE); Teacher Education (TE); Mahila Samakhya (MS); State specific Basic Education Projects like the Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Project (APPEP), Bihar Education Project (BEP), Lok Jumbish Project (LJP) in Rajasthan, Education for All Project in Uttar Pradesh; Shiksha Karmi Project (SKP) in Rajasthan; National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education; and District Primary Education Programme (DPEP).


There are strong reasons for implementing elementary education for all with vigour in India. Social justice and equity are by themselves a strong argument for providing basic education for all. It is an established fact that basic education improves the level of human well - being especially with regard to life expectancy, infant mortality, and nutritional status of children etc. Studies have shown that universal basic education significantly contributes to economic growth. The other compelling reasons are the following.

1. The Constitutional, Legal and National Statements for UEE has time and again upheld the cause of Universal Elementary Education.
2. The Constitutional mandate 1950 states "The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education to all children until they complete the age of'14 years."
3. National Policy of Education 1986 - "It shall be ensured that free and compulsory education of satisfactory quality is provided to all children up to 14 years of age before we enter the twenty first century".
4. Unnikrishnan Judgement, 1993 - "Every child/citizen of this country has a right to free education until he completes the age of fourteen years."
5. Education Ministers’ Resolve, 1998 - "Universal elementary education should be pursued in the mission mode. It emphasised the need to pursue a holistic and convergent approach towards UEE."
6. National Committee's Report on UEE in the Mission Mode: 1999 - UEE should be pursued in a mission mode with a holistic and convergent approach with emphasis on preparation of District Elementary Education Plans for UEE. It supported the fundamental right to education.
7. Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states that “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace”.

The Scenario So Far: In a global sense, the right to education and the right to learn unfortunately still constitute a vision rather than a reality, although the demands on and for ‘educated people‘ continue to grow. Today some 1000 million with women as the silent majority are labelled illiterate. Over 130 million children, almost two-thirds of them girls in the developing countries, have no access to primary education. Against this alarming background, the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child reaffirmed the right of every child to education.

The Indian scenario is slightly different. The impact of development could be seen in the field of education. Consequent to several efforts, India has made enormous progress in terms of increase in institutions, teachers, and students in elementary education. The number of schools in the country increased four-fold - from 2, 31,000 in 1950 - 51 to 9, 30,000 in 1989-99, while enrolment in the primary jumped by about six times from 19.2 million to 110 million. At the upper Primary stage, the increase of enrolment during the period was 13 times, while enrolment of girls recorded a huge rise of 32 times. The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at the Primary stage has exceeded 100 percent. Access to schools is no longer a major problem. At the primary stage, 94 percent of the country's rural population has schooling facilities within one kilometre and the upper primary stage, it is 84 percent.

The country has made impressive achievement in the elementary education sector. But the flip side is that out of the 200 million children in the age group of 6 - 14 years, 59 million children are still not attending school. Of this, 35 million are girls and 24 million are boys. There are problems relating to drop-out rate, low levels of learning achievement and low participation of girls, tribals and other disadvantaged groups. There are still at least one lakh habitations in the country without schooling facility within a kilometre. Coupled with it are various systemic issues like inadequate school infrastructure, poorly functioning schools, high teacher absenteeism, large number of teacher vacancies, poor quality of education and inadequate funds.

In short, the country is yet to achieve the elusive goal of Universalization of Elementary education (UEE), which means 100 percent enrolment and retention of children with schooling facilities in all habitations. It is to fill this gap that the Government has launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.


The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan 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 State. SSA, which promises to change the face of the elementary education sector of the country, aims to provide useful and quality elementary education to all children in the 6 - 14 age group by 2010.

The SSA is an effort to recognize the need for improving the performance of the school system and to provide community owned quality elementary education in mission mode. It also envisages bridging of gender and social gaps.

Structure for Implementation: The Central and Slate governments will together implement the SSA in partnership with the local governments and.the community. To signify the national priority for elementary education, a National Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Mission is being established with the Prime Minister as the Chairperson and the Union Minister of Human Resource Development as the Vice Chairperson. States have been requested to establish State level Implementation Society for DEE under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister / Education Minister. This has already been done in many States.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan will not disturb existing structures in States and districts but would only try to bring convergence in all these efforts. Efforts will be made to ensure that there is functional decentralization down to the school level in order to improve community participation.

Coverage and Period: The SSA will cover the entire expanse of the country before March 2002 and the duration of the programme in every district will depend upon the District Elementary Education Plan (DEEP) prepared by it as per its specific needs. However, the upper limit for the programme period has been fixed as ten-years/ i.e. up to 2010.


Institutional reforms- As part of the SSA, institutional reforms in the States were carried out. The states had to make an objective assessment of their prevalent education system including educational administration, achievement levels in schools, financial issues, decentralisation and community ownership, review of State Education Act, rationalization of teacher deployment and recruitment of teachers, monitoring and evaluation, education of girls, SC/ST and disadvantaged groups, policy regarding private schools and ECCE. Many States have already effected institutional reforms to improve the delivery system for elementary education.

Sustainable Financing - The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is based on the premise that financing of elementary education interventions has to be sustainable. This calls for a long-term perspective on financial partnership between the Central and the State governments.

Community ownership - The programme calls for community ownership of school based interventions through effective decentralisation. This was augmented by involvement of women's groups, VEC members and members of Panchayati Raj institutions. Thus involvement of community is an added dimension to the existing system of education due to the development in education.

Institutional capacity building -The SSA conceives a major capacity building role for national and state level-institutions like NIEPA/NCERT/NCTE/SCERT/S1EMAT. Improvement in quality requires a sustainable support system of resource persons. Vigorous efforts have been augmented in this direction which is again a result of development in education.

Improvement in mainstream educational administration - It calls for improvement of mainstream educational administration by institutional development, infusion of new approaches, and by adoption of cost effective and efficient methods.

Community based monitoring with full transparency- The Programme will have a community based monitoring system. The Educational Management Information System (EMIS) will correlate school level data with community based information from micro planning and surveys. Besides this, every school will have a notice board showing all the grants received by the school and other details thus making educational system more transparent.

Habitation as a unit of planning -The SSA works on a community based approach to planning with habitation as a unit of planning. Habitation plans will be the basis for formulating district plans thus ensuring full and complete coverage of the area.

Accountability to community- SSA envisages cooperation between teachers, parents and PRIs, as well as accountability and transparency. This made the educational programmes need-based and community relevant.

Education of girls - Education of girls, especially those belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, was one of the principal concerns in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. This enabled the otherwise neglected sections of people in to the fold of education.

Focus on special groups - There will be a focus on the educational participation of children from SC/ST, religious and linguistic minorities disadvantaged groups and the disabled children leaving no one outside the fold of education.

Pre Project phase - SSA commenced throughout the country with a well planned pre project phase that provided for a large number of interventions for capacity development to improve the delivery and monitoring system. This was one of its kind programme well-planned and executed.

Thrust on quality - SSA lays a special thrust on making education at elementary level useful and relevant for children by improving the curriculum, child centred activities and effective teaching methods.

Role of teachers - SSA recognizes the critical role of teachers and advocates a focus on their development needs. Setting up of BRC/CRC, recruitment of qualified teachers, opportunities for teacher development through participation in curriculum related material development, focus on classroom process and exposure visits for teachers designed to develop the human resource among teachers.

District Elementary Education Plans - As per the SSA framework, each district will prepare a District Elementary Education Plan reflecting all the investments being made in elementary education sector, holistic and convergent.

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.


Earlier the trend had been towards sector-based investments such as Operation Blackboard or Non-Formal Education (NFE) programme. The planning for these and other programmes was centralised and schematic. Education for All (EFA) initiatives are now becoming more area and people specific.

The districts chosen under DPEP represent those where female literacy is below the national average of 39.2 per cent and where the ‘Total Literacy Campaigns‘ (TLCs) have successfully generated a demand for elementary education.

The DPEP, however, has a much broader focus and agenda than the Bihar Project and the Uttar Pradesh Education Project. The main thrust of DPEP is (i) District level planning (ii) Community participation and decentralised management (iii) Focus on Education of girls, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and handicapped (v) Improving the quality of education through a process of demand creation for better service (vi) A reduction in the overall dropout rate in primary education to less than 10 per cent for all students.

The failure of Indian primary education is hard to escape. Sixty years after India‘s political independence, India is placed 126th out of 175 countries ranked in the 2006 ‘Human Development Report.‘ India‘s adult literacy rate is a dismal 61%, below Cameroon (68%), Angola, Congo, Uganda (67%), Rwanda (65%), and Malawi (64%). That 40% of today‘s Indian adults cannot even “both read and write a short, simple statement related to their everyday life” implies that they did not get the equivalent of the most basic of primary education. Compare that to China‘s 90% adult literacy. [Source: UNDP Human Development Report}

India has made a huge progress in terms of increasing primary education attendance rate and expanding literacy to approximately two thirds of the population. India's improved education system is often cited as one of the main contributors to the economic rise of India. Much of the progress in education has been credited to various private institutions. The private education market in India is estimated to be worth $40 billion in 2008 and will increase to $68 billion by 2012. However, India continues to face challenges. Despite growing investment in education, 35% of the population is illiterate and only 15% of the students reach high school. The programmes chalked out were very ambitious and relevant to India‘s needs. But it is once again proved that Indians are great planners, but poor executors.


The formal system of education has been found inadequate to meet the growing needs of children‘s education. Directive for Universalization of elementary education 1960 could not be realised even by 1994. Rather the goal has been eluding the grasp and the target is being postponed from time to time. The NPE unequivocally mentions “A large and systematic programme of non-formal education will be launched for school dropouts, for children from habitations without schools, working children and girls who cannot attend whole-day schools”. Since the dropout and deprived children cannot be given education in the formal schools, they have to be provided education in NFE Centres. The approach can be aptly put in the quote, “If Mohammed does not come to mountain, the mountain should go to Mohammad. If children do not come to schools, schools should go to children.”

Children who on account of various reasons cannot continue their schooling and those who cannot attend schools at all need non-formal education to realize the Constitutional Directive. Adults who cannot study in primary schools partly because they are engaged in various vocations for earning their living and partly because they require functional and part time education can be provided only through NFE centres.

The concept of non-formal education has undergone changes over the past few decades. Non-formal education is rightly regarded by many as complementary to the formal system of education and for some others it is an alternative to the formal one. Both are however correct to a great extent and the NFE actually aims at universalization of elementary education in a particular period or by a specific dead-line.

Prof. Malcom Adiseshaiah has observed that the non-formal education is wide-ranging because it comprehends all learning outside of the formal system, and has no parameters of time or space. It can be classified for pre-school, unschooled or dropouts for all learners in the age group 15 – 60. Non-formal learning can also be classified by the learning content where the major emphasis is on the general education and also those where the content is mainly vocational. If we remove the rigidities of the formal system of education with regard to hours and place of study, type of students, methods of teaching and learning, content of courses, qualification requirements of the students and the teachers and methods of evaluation and still organize a systematic learning process with clear goals of learning, we will have a non-formal educational system which will have different degrees of flexibility and hence different degrees of non- formality.

NFE is regarded as an instrument of development which is not only economic, but also political as well as cultural in character. Since it helps improving productivity, it is also called as part of skill development programme. In the developing countries where elementary education has not been universal NFE serves as a lever for promoting literacy.

NFE is linked with general development- health, sanitation, family planning, environment, industry, agriculture, etc. The people coming to the non-formal education system would learn skills and understandings besides literacy and numeracy. NFE is closely connected with improving people‘s quality of life and with social as well as national development. Since it promotes literacy and literacy has positive correlation with development, NFE has great impact on development and as much on GNP which is the outcome and indicator of the country‘s productivity and peoples‘ competencies as citizens and producers of wealth.

The Programme of Action (1986) pointed out that the essential characteristics of NFE are organisational flexibility, relevance of curriculum, diversities in learning activities to relate them to the learners‘ needs and decentralisation of management. Different models of NFE have been evolved and various agencies implementing the programme have been encouraged to develop and adopt the most suitable model suiting the needs and conditions of target groups.


It has been universally acknowledged that an educated and enlightened citizenry is a pre-requisite condition for success of democracy. Although in the developed countries, education up to secondary education has been made compulsory for the purpose in the developing countries elementary education is considered essential for effective functioning of democracy. In 1947, about 85% of its population were illiterate and hardly 31% of its children in the age group of 6-11 went to schools. This was a national concern at that time and the same problem still persists which may be in a diminutive form.

With a view to realising this objective of Universalization of elementary education, it has been felt that we have to universalise provision of schooling facilities, (a) enrolment and (b) retention in schools. But unfortunately, on account of social, economic, educational and political reasons, Universalization of elementary education has still remained a distant goal. It is a fact that formal education has proved inadequate for catering to the needs of growing number of children many of whom are suffering from various social, economic and cultural disabilities. It will be difficult to realize the goal of universal elementary education with the formal system of education alone. Non-formal education has therefore to be provided in our country to universalize elementary education, to meet the constraints of resources, to serve the scattered and sparsely populated areas, to meet the inadequacy of formal education, to enable the pupils to learn while they earn, to meet the needs of late bloomers, and to provide education to socially and economically deprived classes of the society.

India has made considerable progress since independence in terms of increase of all types of institutions, enrolment and sophistication and diversification of educational programmes. It has the nation‘s aspirations from the view point of overall coverage, equitable distribution and quality of education.

Non-formal education is mainly meant for national development, of course, any form of education contributes to national development in one form or the other. But NFE programmes are visualised, planned and implemented for majority of our people, who are deprived, downtrodden and debarred for many decades and are now aspiring to come to the main stream. For them, education is not for status up-gradation or academic satisfaction, but for improving their employability or productivity. Thus education promotes the social and individual development. National development means country‘s development, social, economic, cultural, political and so on. The concept of development has been changing and cannot be equated with economic growth alone. It would include social, cultural and political development. Similarly, we cannot equate development with industrialization (or even modernization for that matter). For example, we attach so much importance to justice and equality, but growth in GNP is accompanied by great in-equalities as well as injustice. Social justice has, therefore, been taken as an integral part of the development process. Similarly, we used to emphasise consumerism, and the growth of goods and services, but now we lay stress on the development of man himself.

NFE‘s main objective is the development of the large segment of rural folk. The rural areas are plagued with superstitions, ill-health, bad housing and restricted avenues of economic development. This also aims at removing the wide disparities lying between rural and urban, rich and poor, male and female segments.

National development is generally equated with Gross National Product (GNP). But it does not mean only economic growth. Economic growth also cannot be explained by capital and labour. There is a large residual factor which can only be explained in terms of education. The take off stage in development process is reached when an advance in education, science, research, and technology leads to a growth in GNP, which, in turn, makes larger amount available to education and helps it to advance.

As visualised by Gandhiji, the Indian people won freedom but the formal education has been perpetrating dependence, injustice and inequality in various sectors of society. By propagating Basic Education and its principles of “learning by doing” inter alia, Gandhiji emerged as the best exponent of non-formal education which seeks to achieve productivity, equality and justice for the poor, oppressed and deprived individuals. It integrates both education and development as its programmes are generally built around developmental tasks. Since the programmes of NFE are relevant and feasible and free from various rigidities and formalities, non-formal education is well received by the learners, who are motivated, but have had a bitter taste of irrelevant and meaningless learning experiences. They are now interested to get themselves educated and thereby empowered to improve their productivity, citizenship and quality of life, so that they can face the challenges of the emerging society in the 21st century. This new born awareness and vigour are the positive results of development in education.


Women have much lower literacy rate than men. Far fewer girls are enrolled in the schools, and many of them drop out. According to a 1998 report by U.S. Department of Commerce, the chief barrier to female education in India are inadequate school facilities (such as sanitary facilities), shortage of female teachers and gender bias in curriculum (majority of the female characters being depicted as weak and helpless).

Since 1947 the Indian government has tried to provide incentives for girls‘ school attendance through programs for midday meals, free books, and uniforms. This welfare thrust raised primary enrolment between 1951 and 1981. In 1986 the National Policy on Education decided to restructure education in tune with the social framework of each state, and with larger national goals. It emphasized that education was necessary for democracy, and central to the improvement of women‘s condition. The new policy aimed at social change through revised texts, curricula, increased funding for schools, expansion in the numbers of schools, and policy improvements. Emphasis was placed on expanding girls‘ occupational centres and primary education; secondary and higher education; and rural and urban institutions. The report tried to connect problems like low school attendance with poverty, and the dependence on girls for housework and sibling day care. The National Literacy Mission also worked through female tutors in villages. Although the minimum marriage age is now eighteen for girls, many continue to be married much earlier. Therefore, at the secondary level, female dropout rates are high.

The number of literate women among the female population of India was between 2-6% from the British Raj onwards to the formation of the Republic of India in 1947. Concerted efforts led to improvement from 15.3% in 1961 to 28.5% in 1981. By 2001 literacy for women had exceeded 50% of the overall female population, though these statistics were still very low compared to world standards and even male literacy within India. Recently the Indian government has launched Saakshar Bharat Mission for Female Literacy. This mission aims to bring down female illiteracy by half of its present level.


Following independence, India viewed education as an effective tool for bringing social change through community development. The administrative control was effectively initiated in the 1950s, when, in 1952, the government grouped villages under a Community Development Block—an authority under national programme which could control education in up to 100 villages. A Block Development Officer oversaw a geographical area of 150 square miles which could contain a population of as many as 70000 people. Setty and Ross elaborate on the role of such programmes, themselves divided further into individual-based, community based, or the Individual-cum-community-based, in which microscopic levels of development are overseen at village level by an appointed worker:

The community development programmes comprise agriculture, animal husbandry, co-operation, rural industries, rural engineering (consisting of minor irrigation, roads, buildings), health and sanitation including family welfare, family planning, women welfare, child care and nutrition, education including adult education, social education and literacy, youth welfare and community organisation. In each of these areas of development there are several programmes, schemes and activities which are additive, expanding and tapering off covering the total community, some segments, or specific target populations such as small and marginal farmers, artisans, women and in general people below the poverty line.

Despite some setbacks the rural education programmes continued throughout the 1950s, with support from private institutions. A sizable network of rural education had been established by the time the Gandhigram Rural Institute was established and 5, 200 Community Development Blocks were established in India. Nursery schools, elementary schools, secondary school, and schools for adult education for women were set up. The government continued to view rural education as an agenda that could be relatively free from bureaucratic backlog and general stagnation. However, in some cases lack of financing balanced the gains made by rural education institutes of India. Some ideas failed to find acceptability among India's poor and investments made by the government sometimes yielded little results. Today, government rural schools remain poorly funded and understaffed. Several foundations, such as the Rural Development Foundation (Hyderabad), actively build high-quality rural schools, but the number of students served is small.

Progress in the field of education of girl child is visible of late due to the development in economic, social, cultural, political and other areas in the country. Education of girls has been high on both national and state agenda for quite some time. Primary education constitutes a very important part of the entire structure of education. It is at this stage, the child starts going to a formal institution and formal education starts. And it is at this stage that the child empowerment starts to build up.

Special commissions and committees were set up from time to time to assess the progress of girls‘ education and to propose suitable intervention to promote their educational participation. Several strategies were adopted to promote education of girls as an integral part of the planned socio-economic development of the country. The removal of women‘s illiteracy and obstacles inhibiting their access to, and retention in primary education started to receive overriding priority, through provision of special support services, time targets and effective monitoring.

In ancient India women enjoyed a high status in the society. They were provided educational opportunities comparable to men. The social evils like purdah, sati, enforced widowhood and child marriage crept into the society much later and resulted in the degradation of their status. It should be noted that there were no institutions for education of girls during Muslim rule except the Quran recitation education received in their homes.

The British were reluctant to take up the responsibility of girls‘ education for a long time due to the doctrine of religious neutrality. After independence, the University Education Commission (1948-49) set up by the government of India, laid special emphasis on the education of women. The main strategy adopted to achieve equalization of educational opportunities has been to make school accessible to every child. It was construed that expansion of educational facilities, as part of providing universal elementary education for all would make education available to the weaker sections of the society including women.

Gender inequality has become one of the major areas of concern for educationists and policy makers. Gender inequality in India stems from two important sources of differences between men and women. (1)

Earning capacity that makes women utterly dependent on men and (2) Cultural taboos and traditions that greatly restrict the autonomy of women. Women, of late, have been increasingly involving themselves in work outside. Increasing levels of educational attainments have facilitated such involvement. To carry forward this trend, it is necessary that education of females should continue to be accorded greater and greater priority. Fortunately, the changing norms in the society are now enabling more and more women to actively seek education. Now women are found in large numbers in the fields of Information Technology, science and space research and in other such fields that demand high level of skills.

As per the National Policy of Education (NPE)- 1986, the government of India launched several programmes. One such programme was the Mahila Samakhya, whose main emphasis was empowerment of women. The programme endeavours to create a learning environment where women can collectively affirm their potential, gain the strength to demand information and knowledge and move forward to change and take charge of their lives. Other initiatives in this direction are Operation Black Board (OBB), District Primary Education Programme (DPEP), Establishment of School Education Committees, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), and Mid-day Meal Scheme etc.

Special schemes and programmes were also instituted for promoting education of girls. Provisions like opening up of separate institutions or wings exclusively for girls, free education for girls up to the higher secondary stage and in many states even up to university level, free noon meals, free books, free uniforms, scholarships for good attendance, bicycles, cash awards for villages, blocks and districts with good performance in female education/literacy etc. have brought positive results in this direction. Girls belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes received additional benefits for showing better school attendance. As a result of the protective discrimination policies under constitutional provisions, the enrolment of the SC and ST girl children has considerably improved. Due to the existing programmes and some initiatives on the part of the government, the girls‘ education has developed faster than that of boys in many states of India.


The perspective on adult education has been spelt out in the NPE in paragraphs 4.10 to 4.13 and chapter VII of the Programme of Action- 1986. Apart from facilitating creation of ability to read and write the policy links adult education with national goals such as poverty alleviation, national integration, environment conservation, energisation of the cultural creativity of the people, observance of small family norms and promotion of women‘s equality. Adult education has also been considered as a responsibility of the whole nation- all the sections of the society involving teachers, students, youth, employees, voluntary agencies, etc., apart from Central and State Governments and political parties and their mass organizations.

A resolution was passed to set up a Committee to review the NPE. The resolution noted that “Despite efforts at social and economic development since attainment of Independence a majority of our people continue to remain deprived of education which is one of the basic needs of human development. It is also a matter of grave concern that our people comprise 50 per cent of world‘s illiterate and large sections of children have to go without acceptable level of primary education. The Government accords highest priority to education both as a human right and as the means for bringing about a transformation towards a more humane and enlightened society. There is a need to make education an effective instrument for securing a status of equality for women, and persons belonging to the backward classes and minorities. More over it is essential to give a work and employment orientation to education.....”.


In pursuance of the policy, a National Literacy Mission was established in 1988. The emphasis of the Mission was not on mere numbers but on attainment of certain predetermined norms and parameters of literacy, numeracy, functionality and awareness. Under this programme, 2, 84,000 Centres are functioning in the country with an estimated involvement of 84 lakh adult learners (about 35 lakh men and 49 lakh women). About 30,000 Jan Shikshan Nilayams have been sanctioned to provide post literacy programmes. A Mass Campaign under NLM was launched by the then Prime Minister in May, 1988. Similar campaigns were launched by 24 States and UTs on the same date and after. The programme suffered due to shortage of funds.

Plans have been drawn up/implemented for complete eradication of illiteracy in an area specific and time bound manner. Kottayam in Kerala became fully literate in 100 days. (April-June, 1989). Eranakulam district of Kerala made fully literate in one year (January-December 1989). Projects for Total Literacy Campaign (TLC) have been launched in Kerala, Goa and Pondichery. Saksharata Abhiyan was launched by Gujarat Vidyapeeth on 1st May 1988.

The Total Literacy Campaign (TLC) and the Post Literacy Campaign (PLC) have significantly and qualitatively changed the life of the people of Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu. The district convention was launched the TLC on July 23, 1991. After the motivational phase, the programme was inaugurated on October 2, 1992. During that year, 250,000 learners out of a potential 290,000 were enrolled under the TLC while completed the first primer, 200,000 learners completed the second primer and of these 180,000 achieved the final TLC stage of completing the third primer.

Through the TLC the mission has attempted a national awakening. Today it covers more than 200 districts in the country. In just five years, 33 million people have been made functionally literate. The success has led the nation to now aim at making 100 million people literate. The crucial fact of TLC is that it went beyond the listed aims like reading, writing and numeracy, but something that has led to the empowerment of people, especially of women. From this grew awareness of their rights and of the facilities provided. The programme gave renewed self confidence, enabled them for employment and there by self dependence, importance of health, child care, etc. the scenario today can be summed up in the words of an activist of TLC from Karnataka; “The atmosphere today shows that the real leaders of the campaign are the neo-literates themselves. Our success lies in this”.


The impact of development could be seen in quality of education along with quantity. There has been widespread concern with the quality of education being provided in our schools. The National Policy for Education (NPE), 1986, emphasizes the need for all children to achieve minimum standards of learning. The need to lay down ‘minimum levels of learning‘ (MLL) emerges from two basic concerns: (i) excessively heavy curriculum and low quality of learning at primary levels (ii) need for equity. The MLL approach seeks to focus on a minimum quantum of learning which practically all children, even disadvantaged children can acquire. The effort is, therefore to combine quality with equity......And Miles to Go.

The projects and programmes sketched are the portraits of the future. Impatiently waiting their chance to be the present, they are slowly emerging from behind the curtains of time. Testimony to a nation in hurry, these sketches indicate a country‘s determination to break with the past. Their purpose, though, was less to paint a glorious picture of the state of education and more to provide clues to the emerging scenario. To salute to the actors who are leading the movement to convert India into a totally literate society is a reminder of the distance covered. For, on the bumpy road to education for all, traversing just half the distance is an achievement. After all there are miles to go.....


Manpower development was the main emphasis of higher education all along. The early growth phase of higher education was associated with colonization. Only after independence, that the State promoted education as an instrument of social development. We indeed had a very impressive growth since then, the number of university-level institutions have increased from 18 in 1947 to 307 by the end of 2004. The student enrolment has grown impressively from 2, 28,804 in 1947 to 94, 63,821, in 202-3. The growth in infrastructure under higher education is rated, to be the second largest after the USA in the world. Yet it hardly covers seven percent of the population, well below even that of developing countries such as Indonesia (11%), Brazil (12%), and Thailand (19%). In developed countries like USA, Canada, Australia (>80%) and Finland (>70%), a higher percent of population has been found possessing higher education.

The number of students entering colleges is growing in bulk every year and thus planners and educationists are confronted with the urgent problem of screening the deserving candidates for higher education. Greater emphasis on education has increased the number of students, both at school and college level, but the quality of students and the standard of scholastic record has been showing a downward trend. The UGC (1996) has also reported that to impart higher education to unsuitable students is uneconomical from every respect.


Improvement of quality and consolidation continued to be the main concern in the field of higher education during the seventh plan. The enrolment of students in 1991-92 was 44.25 lakhs, 36.93 lakhs in affiliated colleges and 7.32 lakhs in university departments. Women students totalled 14.37 lakh (34.2 per cent) and the enrolment of SC/ST students was about 10 per cent. The growth of student enrolment which was 5 per cent per annum up to 1985-86 declined from1986-87 onwards to around 4.1 per cent. The enrolment in Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) alone accounted for more than one lakh students.

The following suggestions were put forward by NPE for the development of higher education. (1) Creation of autonomous university departments and colleges. (2) State Councils of Higher Education. (3) Enhanced support for research. (4) Strengthening of open universities and Distance Education. (5) Consolidation of existing institutions and improvement of quality of teachers and teaching. (6) Mechanism for delinking degrees from jobs. (7) Establishment of a new pattern of Rural Universities and (8) Establishment of an apex body covering higher education in all areas.

Further, under the Academic Staff College Scheme for orientation of newly recruited and in-service college and university teachers, 48 academic staff colleges have been established, which organised 464 Orientation and Refresher courses covering 12,970 teachers up to December 1991. The UGC provided developmental grants to Central universities and 95 state universities, besides assisting more than 3000colleges for general development programmes and for implementation of special programmes. About 295 departments received special assistance under different programmes such as Centres of Advanced Studies (CAS), Departments of Special Assistance (DSA) and Departmental Research Support. Under the programme of Co-ordinated Strengthening of Infrastructure in Science and Technologies (COSIST), 112 departments were assisted. To support educational broadcasts, the UGC has set up 7 audio-visual research centres and 7 education media research centres for production of software. As many as 2332 programmes, popularly known as Country-wide Classroom Programmes were produced. A new organization called Inter-university Consortium of Education and Communication was set up. Programmes like Teacher Fellowships and Research Fellowships for SC/ST candidates and remedial teaching for weaker sections including minorities were continued. The UGC provided assistance for installation of mini/macro-Computer Systems to 110 universities and 1216 colleges. In collaboration with the Department of Electronics (DoE), several courses in computer Science were run. An information and library network called “INFLIBNET” has been proposed. With a view to providing common research facilities and services of the highest quality, inter-university centres in Nuclear Science, Astronomy and Astrophysics and Atomic Energy were established. The IGNOU widened the access to higher education by providing opportunities to learners from disadvantaged groups like women, people living in backward regions and hilly areas with an enrolment of 1.64 lakhs by March 1992. The Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) and Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR) also continued their activities relating to support of research in respective areas. Thus phenomenal improvements have been made in the area of higher education.

Yet, the higher education at present suffers several weaknesses, such as proliferation of substandard institutions, failure to maintain academic calendar, outdated curriculum, disparities in the quality of education and lack of adequate support for research. The Planning Commission organised a ‘Brain-Storming‘ session to consider the future directions of higher education have emphasized the following thrust areas.

(1) Integrated approach to higher education. (2) Excellence in higher education. (3) Expansion of education in an equitable and cost-effective manner, in the process making the higher education system financially self-supporting. (4) Making higher education relevant in the context of changing socio-economic scenario. (5) Promotion of value education and (6) Strengthening of management system in the universities.

1. To bring greater coherence in higher education comprising general, technical, medical and agricultural streams which is fragmented in terms of structures and policies, the NPE envisaged the establishment of National Council of Higher Education (NCHER) which is in its final stage. This will ensure networking, sharing of facilities and development of manpower including teachers‘ training/orientation facilities.

2. Several measures have been taken to promote excellence in higher education. The National Accreditation Council (NAC) was established. Apart from continuing the existing programmes of CAS/DAS, COSIST and the IUCEC and the proposed INFLIBNET, new inter-university centres were to be established to provide facilities in emerging areas like Biotechnology, Atmospheric Science, Oceanography, Electronics and Computer Science. Model curricula for all disciplines have already been prepared. Commission to improve undergraduate courses in science and teaching of Mathematics at Indian universities and colleges were to be implemented in a phased manner.

3. The potential of 44.25 lakhs students enrolled in higher education has to be utilised by actively involving them in the programmes of adult literacy, continuing education, population education and other constructive activities. Such extension activities of the universities and colleges have to be expanded to cover 95 universities and 2500 colleges during the eighth plan.

4. It is estimated that there will be an additional 10 lakhs students of which 900000 will be at the undergraduate level. This expansion in higher education, keeping in view the present resource crunch has to be accommodated in an equitable and cost-effective manner mainly by large scale expansion of Distance Education system and providing to larger segments of population, particularly the disadvantaged groups like women and people living in backward and hilly areas and measures for resource generation. Open Universities were to start programmes of vocational nature for adult learners for meeting the learning needs of rural areas. However the quality of education is not to be compromised at any cost. Upward revision of fee structure is allowed but at the same time it should not be exorbitant. There is provision of availing educational loans for students and scholarship and financial assistance to SC/ST and students below poverty line.

5. Planning Commission has constituted a Core group on value education in education. The recommendations of the group will be considered for implementation in consultation with the Ministry of Human Resource Development, UGC, Association of Indian Universities (AID) and NCERT.

6. Modernisation and restructuring of the management of university system is also planned. Programme of autonomy of colleges and universities is also encouraged. Facilities in universities and colleges, including research facilities would be consolidated and strengthened.

Further it was decided that research activities of ICSSR, ICHR, ICPR, and Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS), Shimla will receive special attention for promotion of inter-disciplinary research. It was also decided to take steps to support research in humanities which at present is neglected.

In order to delink degrees as requirement to services, the NPE visualised establishing a National Testing Services (NTS). This will conduct tests on a voluntary basis to determine the suitability of candidates for specified jobs evolving norms of comparable competence across the nation.

“Our university system is, in many parts, in a state of disrepair...In almost half the districts in the country, higher education enrolments are abysmally low, almost two-third of our universities and 90 per cent of our colleges are rated as below average on quality parameters... I am concerned that in many states university appointments, including that of vice-chancellors, have been politicised and have become subject to caste and communal considerations, there are complaints of favouritism and corruption.”– Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2007.

In the present competitive environment the students should have not only adequate knowledge and understanding in their area of specialisation but also interpersonal and communicative skills to survive the competitive onslaught. The present age is caught up in the webs of GOLIT where Globalization, Open market economy, Liberalisation and International Technology which direct the future course of the world. Another striking feature of emerging society shall be shift in emphasis- directed learning to self-initiated learning.

Students as well as parents are now more and more aware of quality in higher education. They are rightfully questioning the quality of the curriculum, instructional delivery, the learning environment accessibility for lifelong learning and improvement of knowledge.

During the X plan period, the UGC selected 47 colleges at the national level and recognised as colleges with potential for excellence and granted Rs. 1 crore to each of them for development of higher education. Likewise universities have been selected and recognised as universities with potential for excellence and granted Rs. 30 crores each. University of Mumbai is one among them. Presently, higher education sector scenario faces a challenging environment. Competition for excellence is rapidly going down. No doubt, existing formal accreditation systems being operated through various boards and councils do provide a basis for implementing quality system needs.


Higher education is perhaps the worst causality of the changes and has failed to respond to challenges of our times. It has a lot to the social relevance and a university degree only adds to the existing wagons of the educated unemployed. Hence the question arises as to what should be the role of higher education so that the whole education system may become more responsive to present day political and social issues and may also become people oriented system.

At the political level, the schools and universities are important agencies of political socialisation to promote those attitudes and values which can be oriented towards strengthening the political system. But the colleges and even universities are averse to the entry of politics into their domain given the level of corruption and criminalisation. It is not bad to have student politics in a purely democratic way, for this will give them strong basis for democratic functioning as responsible citizens in future. But the bitter fact is that the political parties are using the temples of learning for their narrow selfish ends. Higher education is certainly at the cross roads today. The earlier vision of higher education as institutions of learning is being fast changing to the level of commodity in the market under the impact of forces of globalization. Hence there is an urgent need to restore our age old external values as essential ingredients of the entire educational curriculum including higher education.


Almost all countries of the world today hold the responsibility for higher education partially as well as wholly with the state. Further, it may also be said that higher education in most developing countries is largely financed by public subsidies.

The state responsibility on higher educational system has grown up enormously. The basic infrastructure has equally grown up from 750 to 11831 colleges, 250 universities and 729 institutes offering courses on Master of Computer Applications. There are 820 approved Management Institutes for MBA courses. There were 27 universities serving 1,74,000 students in the year 1950-51. But by the end of 2002-03, there were 16 central universities and 113 state universities and 15,437 affiliated colleges serving around 92,27,833 students. Higher education in India is made up of regular and Distance Education. The Union and state Governments are responsible for the promotion and development of higher education in India. The UGC serves as the liaison between the Union and State Governments and the universities of India. 


The latest trend at the national level in higher education is to tamper with the existing system of University education. The Government has come out with the idea of establishing the National Council for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) which would replace not only the UGC but also all the central apex bodies such as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Medical Council of India, Dental Council of India, The Council of Architecture, National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and so on which had been the bedrock of our higher and technical education.


As of 2008, India's post-secondary high schools offer only enough seats for 7% of India's college-age population, 25% of teaching positions nationwide are vacant, and 57% of college professors lack either a master's or PhD degree. As of 2007, there is 1522 degree-granting engineering colleges in India with an annual student intake of 582,000, plus 1,244 polytechnics with an annual intake of 265,000. However, these institutions face shortage of faculty and concerns have been raised over the quality of education.

There is a general allegation about the commitment and academic excellence of the teachers may be with some amount of truth. The Central Government and UGC are making efforts to attract talent and raise the standard of teaching by offering decent and attractive salary and to a certain extent the service conditions at par with that of employees in the corporate world. Various governments are lethargic to this aspect and there is resistance and delay from the State governments in implementing them.

Technical education including Management education is a potent means for creating skilled manpower required for developmental tasks of various sectors of the economy. Technical education implies high costs of construction, library, laboratory equipments, and high rate of obsolescence. The investments should be viewed as essential investments yielding valuable returns to the society and contributing to the socio- economic development. But the fact is that such investments are not taking place.

The government is taking steps to consolidate and optimise utilisation of existing infrastructural facilities, their up-gradation and modernization, identification of critical areas and creation of infrastructure in new areas of engineering and technology, effective management of the overall system and institutional linkages between technical education and other development sectors.

Under the thrust areas programme of technical education, 510 projects were supported with a total grant of Rs. 53.43 crores for improving facilities in crucial areas of technology. Another 685 projects were supported for creation of infrastructure in areas of emerging technologies involving a grant of Rs. 76.84 crore and another 202 other projects for new technologies with a support of Rs. 27.1 crore.


The following new schemes were started as part of the implementation of NPE.

The scheme envisaged preparation and dissemination of courses and material packages suited to the needs of industry. Under the scheme implemented by 5 Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) 4 Technical Training Teachers‘ Institutes (TTTI) 1 Indian Society of Technical Education (ISTE) 4 engineering colleges/ university departments and 4 polytechnics, more than 30000 working professionals have undergone training.

Institution-Industry Interaction: Under the scheme proposals of 21 engineering colleges and 11 polytechnics have been approved for interaction with the industry.

Research and Development in Technical Education: Support was given to 126 R & D projects under the scheme.

New Dimensions: During the past four decades, there has been a phenomenal expansion of technical education in the country. Yet the technical education field is dogged by some serious problems like inadequate infrastructural facilities, shortage of qualified faculty, unfilled positions in the institutions, absence of R&D facilities, lowering of standards due to quantitative expansion, traditional curriculum which result in unemployment and under-employment. The situation in the mushrooming unrecognised institutions is still worse. A related phenomenon is the brain-drain. Another serious problem is the lack of linkage and interaction between TEIs and user-agencies.

To overcome the above mentioned problems stress has been put on the following areas. (1) Modernisation and up-gradation of infrastructural facilities (2) Quality improvement in technical and management education (3) Responding to new industrial policy and R&D labs interaction and (4) Resource mobilisation.

The Central Government launched a massive project with the assistance of World Bank to enable the State Governments upgrade their polytechnics in capacity, quality and efficiency for the period 1990 to 1999. The project had a total outlay of Rs. 1892 crores.

Another initiative for improvement of technology field is the establishment of Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC). Its objectives include evaluation of existing technologies, preparation of technology forecast reports and estimation of the nature and quantum of likely demands for goods and services in future. Plans have been mooted to make a model university-industry symbiosis. This has been materialised in the form of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad. The new industrial policy has created an environment which requires IITs to adopt a new role as leaders in current and futuristic technology development.

A large number of technical institutes were started and during the course, the IITs have started giving consultancy at the international level as an outcome of the development in technology field. There was a fillip in the management institutes like the IIMs and they have become pace setters in highly qualified managerial manpower.


Some of the effects of educational development both in school education and higher and technical education can be summarised as follows.

1. Knowledge of democratic process: Democracy can be successful only if its citizens are educated. By expansion of school education through mass education programmes the majority of citizens who were once illiterate have become literate and aware of the democratic process of governance and taking active part in nation building and affairs of state
2. Knowledge of rights and duties: Education socialises the individual that he develops consciousness of duty. He willingly takes part in the affairs of the state. He has become aware of his rights too and this is the result of education.
3. Faith in democratic ideals: The citizens of India have reposed faith in democratic ideals and this was possible only through the expansion of education at all levels. He has now realised that life is not merely the satisfaction of gross physical desires but the holding of the ideals like freedom, liberty, and brotherhood are more valuable and necessary.
4. Development of human qualities: Only through education qualities as high moral character, sociability, benevolence, patience, pity, sympathy, brotherhood etc. can be developed and fostered and this could be seen growing in more and more people.
5. Exercising political duties: In a democracy the government is elected by the people, and hence the responsibility for electing a good government devolves upon them. In India, in the absence f education the ignorant people are persuaded to vote the wrong person with the result that the government has failed time and again.
6. Preventing exploitation: The ideals of democracy are opposed to exploitation of every kind, but if political, social and economic exploitation is to be eliminated. Educated people are aware of their rights and have the training to fight against exploitation.
7. Protection and transmission of culture: The continuity of the past is maintained only through culture and social heritage which is passed on to new generation through the medium of education. Hence education is required for transmission of culture.
8. Diffusion of innovative ideas: Effects of education can be found in the diffusion of various innovative ideas. Government comes out with various developmental programmes especially for the weaker section. Education helped them to understand its benefits and its implications for them and willingly participate in the programmes.
9. Giant leap towards literacy: It required a gigantic effort on the part of the government and voluntary organizations to remove illiteracy from the second largest populated country. Due to the various programmes of literacy and other developmental programmes, India could achieve considerable progress.
10. World class technical knowhow: India is now one of the seven world nuclear nations. Our scientists have made their presence felt in space research, rocket technology, IT, oceanography, and other branches of science and technology of world reckoning. We have developed advanced technology in the field of health, agriculture, population education etc. and we are consultants to many countries in the world. All these became possible because of development in education.

Education has brought welcome positive changes in other fields also. They are as follows.

1. Improvement in the status of women,
2. Economic development by and through developments in agriculture and industry.
3. India reaching to the level of a world leader.
4. Advancement of education itself at various levels due to economic development.
5. Awareness of the need for protection of environment.
6. Population control programmes, etc.

There are various other aspects like Education of the Scheduled Castes, Tribes, and Backward Communities, Education of the Disabled, Education of the Minorities etc. which is not discussed at length in this chapter.

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