The Hindu tradition India is the site of one of the most ancient civilizations in the world. The Indo-European-speaking peoples who entered India in the 2nd millennium BCE established large-scale settlements and founded powerful kingdoms. In the course of time, a group of intellectuals, the Brahmans, became priests and men of learning; another group, of nobles and soldiers, became the Kshatriyas; the agricultural and trading class was called the Vaishyas; and artisans and labourers became the Shudra.
Such was the origin of the division of the Hindus into four varnas, or “classes. ” Religion was the mainspring of all activities in ancient India. It was of an all-absorbing interest and embraced not only prayer and worship but also philosophy, morality, law, and government as well. Religion saturated educational ideals too, and the study of Vedic literature was indispensable to higher castes. The stages of instruction were very well defined. During the first period, the child received elementary education at home.
The beginning of secondary education and formal schooling was marked by a ritual known as the upanayana, or thread ceremony, which was restricted to boys only and was more or less compulsory for boys of the three higher castes. The Brahman boys had this ceremony at the age of 8, the Kshatriya boys at the age of 11, and the Vaishya boys at the age of 12. The boy would leave his father’s house and enter his preceptor’s ashrama, a home situated amid sylvan surroundings. The acharya would treat him as his own child, give him free education, and not charge anything for his boarding and lodging.
The pupil had to tend the sacrificial fires, do the household work of his preceptor, and look after his cattle. The study at this stage consisted of the recitation of the Vedic mantras (“hymns”) and the auxiliary sciences—phonetics, the rules for the performance of the sacrifices, grammar, astronomy, prosody, and etymology. The character of education, however, differed according to the needs of the caste. For a child of the priestly class, there was a definite syllabus of studies. The trayi-vidya, or the knowledge of the three Vedas—the most ancient of Hindu scriptures—was obligatory for him.
During the whole course at school, as at college, the student had to observe brahmacharya—that is, wearing simple dress, living on plain food, using a hard bed, and leading a celibate life. The period of studentship normally extended to 12 years. For those who wanted to continue their studies, there was no age limit. After finishing their education at an ashrama, they would join a higher centre of learning or a university presided over by a kulapati (a founder of a school of thought). Advanced students would also improve their knowledge by taking part in philosophical discussions at a parisad, or “academy.
Education was not denied to women, but normally girls were instructed at home. The method of instruction differed according to the nature of the subject. The first duty of the student was to memorize the particular Veda of his school, with special emphasis placed on correct pronunciation. In the study of such literary subjects as law, logic, rituals, and prosody, comprehension played a very important role. A third method was the use of parables, which were employed in the personal spiritual teaching relating to the Upanishads, or conclusion of the Vedas.
In higher learning, such as in the teaching of Dharma-shastra (“Righteousness Science”), the most popular and useful method was catechism—the pupil asking questions and the teacher discoursing at length on the topics referred to him. Memorization, however, played the greatest role. The introduction of Buddhist influences By about the end of the 6th century bce, the Vedic rituals and sacrifices had gradually developed into a highly elaborate cult that profited the priests but antagonized an increasing section of the people.
Education became generally confined to the Brahmans, and the upanayana was being gradually discarded by the non-Brahmans. The formalism and exclusiveness of the Brahmanic system was largely responsible for the rise of two new religious orders, Buddhism and Jainism. Neither of them recognized the authority of the Vedas, and both challenged the exclusive claims of the Brahmans to priesthood. They taught through the common language of the people and gave education to all, irrespective of caste, creed, or sex. Buddhism also introduced the monastic system of education.
Monasteries attached to Buddhist temples served the double purpose of imparting education and of training persons for priesthood. A monastery, however, educated only those who were its members. It did not admit day scholars and thus did not cater to the needs of the entire population. Meanwhile, significant developments were taking place in the political field that had repercussions on education. The establishment of the imperialistic Nanda dynasty about 413 bce and then of the even stronger Mauryas some 40 years later shook the very foundations of the Vedic structure of life, culture, and polity.
The Brahmans in large numbers gave up their ancient occupation of teaching in their forest retreats and took to all sorts of occupations, the Kshatriyas abandoned their ancient calling as warriors, and the Shudras, in their turn, rose from their servile occupations. These forces produced revolutionary changes in education. Schools were established in growing towns, and even day scholars were admitted. Studies were chosen freely and not according to caste. Taxila had already acquired an international reputation in the 6th century bce as a centre of advanced studies and now improved upon it.
It did not possess any college or university in the modern sense of the term, but it was a great centre of learning with a number of famous teachers, each having a school of his own. In the 3rd century bce Buddhism received a great impetus under India’s most celebrated ruler, Ashoka. After his death, Buddhism evoked resistance, and a counterreformation in Hinduism began in the country.
About the 1st century ce there was also a widespread lay movement among both Buddhists and Hindus. As a result of these events, Buddhist monasteries began to undertake secular as well as religious education, and there began a large growth of popular elementary education along with secondary and higher learning.
The 500 years from the 4th century CE to the close of the 8th, under the Guptas and Harsha and their successors, is a remarkable period in Indian history. It was the age of the universities of Nalanda and Valabhi and of the rise of Indian sciences, mathematics, and astronomy.
The university at Nalanda housed a population of several thousand teachers and students, who were maintained out of the revenues from more than 100 villages. Because of its fame, Nalanda attracted students from abroad, but the admission test was so strict that only two or three out of 10 attained admission. More than 1,500 teachers discussed more than 100 different dissertations every day. These covered the Vedas, logic, grammar, Buddhist and Hindu philosophy (Sankhya, Nyaya, and so on), astronomy, and medicine. Other great centres of Buddhist learning of the post-Gupta era were Vikramashila, Odantapuri, and Jagaddala.
The achievements in science were no less significant. Aryabhata in the late 5th century was the greatest mathematician of his age. He introduced the concepts of zero and decimals. Varahamihira of the Gupta age was a profound scholar of all the sciences and arts, from botany to astronomy and from military science to civil engineering. There was also considerable development of the medical sciences. According to contemporaries, more than eight branches of medical science, including surgery and pediatrics, were practiced by the physicians.
These were the main developments in education prior to the Muslim invasions, beginning in the 10th century. Nearly every village had its schoolmaster, who was supported from local contributions. The Hindu schools of learning, known as pathasalas in western India and tol in Bengal, were conducted by Brahman acharyas at their residence. Each imparted instruction in an advanced branch of learning and had a student enrollment of not more than 30. Larger or smaller establishments, specially endowed by rajas and other donors for the promotion of learning, also grew in number.
The usual centres of learning were either the king’s capital, such as Kanauj, Dhar, Mithila, or Ujjayini, or a holy place, such as Varanasi, Ayodhya, Kanchi, or Nasik. In addition to Buddhist viharas (monasteries), there sprang up Hindu mathas (monks’ residences) and temple colleges in different parts of the country. There were also agrahara villages, which were given in charity to the colonies of learned Brahmans in order to enable them to discharge their scriptural duties, including teaching.
Girls were usually educated at home, and vocational education was imparted through a system of apprenticeship. Indian influences on Asia An account of Indian education during the ancient period would be incomplete without a discussion of the influence of Indian culture on Sri Lanka and Central and Southeast Asia. It was achieved partly through cultural or trade relations and partly through political influence. Khotan, in Central Asia, had a famous Buddhist vihara as early as the 1st century CE. A number of Indian scholars lived there, and many Chinese pilgrims remained there instead of going to India.
Indian pandits (scholars) were also invited to China and Tibet, and many Chinese and Tibetan monks studied in Buddhist viharas in India. The process of Indianization was at its highest in Southeast Asia. Beginning in the 2nd century ce, Hindu rulers reigned in Indochina and in the numerous islands of the East Indian archipelago from Sumatra to New Guinea for a period of 1,500 years. A greater India was thus established by a general fusion of cultures. Some of the inscriptions of these countries, written in flawless Sanskrit, show the influence of Indian culture.
There are references to Indian philosophical ideas, legends, and myths and to Indian astronomical systems and measurements. Hinduism continued to wield its influence on these lands so long as the Hindus ruled in India. This influence ceased by the 15th century CE.
MEDIEVAL ERA AND DEVELOPMENTS IN EDUCATION SECTOR
During its medieval period, India was ruled by dynasties of Muslim culture and religion. Muslims from Arabia first appeared in the country in the 8th century, but the foundation of their rule was laid much later by Mu ammad Ghuri, who established his power at Delhi in 1192.
The original Muslim rule was replaced successively by that of the Muslim Pashtuns and Mughals. The foundations of Muslim education Muslim educational institutions were of two types—a maktab, or elementary school, and a madrasa, or institution of higher learning. The content of education imparted in these schools was not the same throughout the country. It was, however, necessary for every Muslim boy at least to attend a maktab and to learn the necessary portions of the Qur an required for daily prayers.
The curriculum in the madrasa comprised dith (the study of Muslim traditions), jurisprudence, literature, logic and philosophy, and prosody. Later on, the scope of the curriculum was widened, and such subjects as history, economics, mathematics, astronomy, and even medicine and agriculture were added. Generally, not all the subjects were taught in every institution. Selected madrasas imparted postgraduate instruction, and a number of towns—Agra, Badaun, Bidar, Gulbarga, Delhi, Jaunpur, and a few others—developed into university centres to which students flocked for study under renowned scholars.
The sultans and amirs of Delhi and the Muslim rulers and nobles in the provinces also extended patronage to Persian scholars who came from other parts of Asia under the pressure of Mongol inroads. Delhi vied with Baghdad and Cordoba as an important centre of Islamic culture. Indian languages also received some attention. The Muslim rulers of Bengal, for example, engaged scholars to translate the Hindu classics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata into Bengali. Under the Pathan Lodis, a dynasty of Afghan foreigners (1451–1526), the education of the Hindus was not only neglected but was often adversely affected in newly conquered territories.
The rulers generally tolerated Sanskrit and vernacular schools already in existence but neither helped the existing ones financially nor built new ones. At early stages, the maktabs and madrasas were attended by Muslims only. Later, when Hindus were allowed into high administrative positions, Hindu children began to receive Persian education in Muslim schools. The Mughal period The credit for organizing education on a systematic basis goes to Akbar (1542–1605), a contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I of England and undoubtedly the greatest of Mughal emperors.
He treated all his subjects alike and opened a large number of schools and colleges for Muslims as well as for Hindus throughout his empire. He also introduced a few curricular changes, based on students’ individual needs and the practical necessities of life. The scope of the curriculum was so widened as to enable every student to receive education according to his religion and views of life. The adoption of Persian as the court language gave further encouragement to the Hindus and the Muslims to study Persian. Akbar’s policy was continued by his successors Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
But his great-grandson Aurangzeb (1618–1707) changed his policy with regard to the education of the Hindus. In April 1669, for instance, he ordered the provincial governors to destroy Hindu schools and temples within their jurisdiction; and, at the same time, he supported Muslim education with a certain religious fanaticism. After his death, the glory of the Mughal empire began gradually to vanish, and the whole country was overrun by warlords. During the Mughal period, girls received their education at home or in the house of some teacher living in close proximity.
There were special arrangements for the education of the ladies of the royal household, and some of the princesses were distinguished scholars. Vocational education was imparted through a system of apprenticeship either in the house of ustads (teachers) or in karkhanahs (manufacturing centres). Muslim rulers of India were also great patrons of literature and gave considerable impetus to its development. Akbar ordered various Hindu classics and histories translated into Persian. In addition, a number of Greek and Arabic works were translated into Persian.
Literary activities did not entirely cease even in the troubled days of later rulers. Men of letters were patronized by such emperors as Bahadur Shah and Mu ammad Shah and by various regional officials and landlords. Such is the history of Muslim education in India. It resembles ancient Indian education to a great extent: instruction was free; the relation between the teachers and the taught was cordial; there were great centres of learning; the monitorial system was used; and people were preoccupied with theology and the conduct of life.
There were, however, several distinctive features of Muslim education. First, education was democratized. As in mosques, so in a maktab or madrasa all were equal, and the principle was established that the poor should also be educated. Second, Muslim rule influenced the system of elementary education of the Hindus, which had to accommodate itself to changed circumstances by adopting a new method of teaching and by using textbooks full of Persian terms and references to Muslim usages. Third, the Muslim period brought in many cultural influences from abroad.
The courses of studies were both widened and brought under a humanistic influence. Finally, Muslim rule produced a cross-cultural influence in the country through the establishment of an educational system in which Hindus and Muslims could study side by side and in which there would be compulsory education in Persian, cultivation of Sanskrit and Hindi, and translation of great classics of literature into different languages. Ultimately, it led to the development of a common medium of expression, Urdu. Education in the Muslim era was not a concerted and planned activity but a voluntary and spontaneous growth.
There was no separate administration of education, and state aid was sporadic and unsteady. Education was supported by charitable endowments and by lavish provision for the students in a madrasa or in a monastery. The Muslim system, however, proved ultimately harmful. In the early stages genuine love of learning attracted students to the cultural centres, but later on “the bees that flocked there were preeminently drones. ”
The whole system became stagnant and stereotyped as soon as cultural communication was cut off from the outside world because of olitical disturbances and internecine wars. The Indian teachers were reduced to dependence on their own resources, and a hardening tradition that became increasingly unreceptive to new ideas reduced the whole process to mere routine. Struggle for independence and education A mid the rising nationalism of the latter part of the 19th century, Indians became more and more critical of the domination of Western learning as imposed by the British rulers and demanded, instead, more attention to Indian languages and culture.
The Indian National Congress, several Muslim associations, and other groups raised their voices against the British system of education. British authorities were not, however, altogether blind to the needs of the country. When Baron Curzon of Kedleston arrived as viceroy in 1898, his determination to improve education was immediately translated into an order for a close survey of the entire field of education. It revealed: “Four out of five villages are without a school.
Three boys out of four grow up without any education and only one girl out of forty attends any kind of school. ” Education had advanced, but it had not penetrated the country as the British had earlier expected. Curzon applied himself to the task of putting matters in order. He disapproved of the doctrine of state withdrawal and instead considered it necessary for the government to maintain a few institutions of every type as models for private enterprise to imitate.
He also abandoned the existing policy of educational laissez-faire and introduced a stricter control over private schools through a vigilant policy of inspection and control. Such a policy aroused bitter feelings among some educated Indians, since it was believed that Curzon was bent on bringing the entire system of education under government control. The main battle, however, was fought over the universities. With Eton and Balliol in mind, Baron Curzon set up the Indian Universities Commission of 1902 to bring about a better order in higher education.
The commission made a number of important recommendations—namely, to limit the size of the university senates, to entrust teaching in addition to examining powers to universities, to insist on a high educational standard from affiliated colleges, to grant additional state aids to universities, to improve courses of studies, to abolish second-grade colleges, and to fix a minimum rate of fees in the affiliated colleges. The report was severely criticized, and the last two recommendations had to be dropped. Legislation in regard to the other proposals was passed despite bitter opposition in the legislature and the press.
The conflict resulted less from educational differences than from political opinions on centralization. In one part of the country, violent agitation had already started on the question of the partition of Bengal. In another, the patriot Bal Gangadhar Tilak declared: “Swaraj [self-rule] is our birthright. ” Thus, Baron Curzon’s educational reforms were considered sinister in their intentions, and his alleged bureaucratic attitude was resented. The administrative policy of Baron Curzon also gave rise to the first organized movement for national education.
This effort was part of the Swadeshi movement, which called for national independence and the boycotting of foreign goods. A body known as the National Council of Education established a national college and a technical institution (the present Jadavpur University) in Calcutta (Kolkata) and 51 national schools in Bengal. These schools sought to teach a trade in addition to ordinary subjects of the matriculation syllabus. The movement received a great impetus, because the Calcutta Congress (1906) resolved that the time had arrived for organizing a national system of education.
With the slackening of the swadeshi movement, however, most of the national schools were eventually closed. The effect of the movement was nevertheless noticeable elsewhere: Rabindranath Tagore started his famous school in West Bengal near Bolpur in 1901; the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha established gurukulas at Vrindaban and Haridwar; and the Indian National Congress and the All-India Muslim League at their sessions in Allahabad and Nagpur, respectively, passed resolutions in favour of free and compulsory primary education.
In 1905 Baron Curzon left India. In order to pacify the general public, his successors modified his policy to some extent, but the main program was resolutely enforced. Although Indian public opinion continued its opposition, the reforms of Baron Curzon brought order into education. Universities were reconstituted and organized, and they undertook teaching instead of merely conducting examinations for degrees. Colleges were no longer left to their own devices but were regularly visited by inspectors appointed by the universities.
The government also became vigilant and introduced a better system for inspecting and granting recognition to private schools; the slipshod system of elementary education was also improved. The number of colleges and secondary schools continued to increase as the demand for higher education developed. In 1917 the government appointed the Sadler Commission to inquire into the “conditions and prospects of the University of Calcutta,” an inquiry that was in reality nationwide in scope.
Covering a wide field, the commission recommended the formation of a board with full powers to control secondary and intermediate education; the institution of intermediate colleges with two-year courses; the provision of a three-year degree course after the intermediate stage; the institution of teaching and unitary universities; the organization of postgraduate studies and honours courses; and a greater emphasis on the study of sciences, on tutorial systems, and on research work. The government of India issued a resolution in January 1920 summarizing the report of the commission.
Since then all legislation of any importance on higher education in any part of India has embodied some of the recommendations of the commission. Meanwhile, World War I had ended, and the new Indian constitution in 1921 made education a “transferred” subject (that is, transferred from British to Indian control), entrusting it almost entirely to the care of the provinces. In each province, educational policy and administration passed into the hands of a minister of education, responsible to the provincial legislature and ultimately to the people.
Although European-style education was still maintained as a “reserved” subject and was not placed under the control of the Indian minister of education, this anomaly was corrected by the Government of India Act of 1935, which removed the distinction between transferred and reserved subjects and introduced a complete provincial autonomy over education. Generally, the new constitution of 1921 was considered inadequate by the Indian National Congress. In protest, Mahatma Gandhi launched the noncooperation movement, the campaign to boycott English institutions and products.
National schools were established throughout the country, and vidyapeeths (“national universities”) were set up at selected centres. The courses of study in these institutions did not differ much from those in recognized schools, but Hindi was studied as an all-India language in place of English, and the mother tongue was used as the medium of instruction. These institutions functioned for a short time only and disappeared with the suppression of the noncooperation movement.
The Congress’ struggle for self-rule, however, became more vigorous, and with it spread the national movement toward education to suit national needs. The Government of India Act of 1935 further strengthened the position of the provincial ministers of education, since the Congress was in power in major provinces. The developmental program of provincial governments included the spread of primary education, the introduction of adult education, a stress on vocational education, and an emphasis on the education of girls and underprivileged people.
The importance of English was reduced, and Indian languages, both as subjects of study and as media of instruction, began to receive greater attention. On this general background, educational developments from the inauguration of reforms in 1921 until independence in 1947 can be viewed. In the field of elementary education, the most important event was the passing of compulsory-education acts by provincial governments—acts empowering local authorities to make primary education free and compulsory in the areas under their jurisdiction.
Another noteworthy feature was the introduction of Gandhi’s “basic education,” which was designed to rescue education from its bookish and almost purely verbal content by emphasizing the teaching of all school subjects in correlation with some manual productive craft. A general demand for secondary education developed with the political awakening among the masses. Schools in rural, semi-urban, and less-advanced communities were established, as were schools for girls.
Some provision was made for alternative or vocational courses when the provincial governments started technical, commercial, and agricultural high schools and gave larger grants to private schools providing nonliterary courses. But the expected results were not achieved because of a lack of funds and of trained teachers. Secondary schools still concentrated on preparing students for admission to colleges of arts and sciences. The period was also marked by a diminishing of the prejudices against the education of girls.
The impetus came from the national movement launched by Gandhi, which led thousands of women to come out of the purdah for the cause of national emancipation. It was also realized that the education of the girl was the education of the mother and, through her, of her children. Between 1921–22 and 1946–47, the number of educational institutions for girls was nearly doubled. In the field of university education, outstanding developments included
- the stablishment of 14 new universities, unitary as well as affiliating,
- the democratization of the administrative bodies of older universities by a substantial increase in the number of elected members,
- the expansion of academic activities through the opening of several new faculties, courses of studies, and research,
- a substantial increase in the number of colleges and student enrollments,
- the provision of military training and greater attention to physical education and recreational activities of students,
- the constitution of the Inter-University Board and the development of intercollegiate and interuniversity activities. With these improvements, however, the educational system of the country had become top-heavy.
EDUCATION SYSTEM IN INDIA POST INDEPENDENCE
At the dawn of Independence, India though relieved from the clutches of colonial rule, was not liberated from the bagasse left by the British in many areas. The education sector was a prime one among the various sectors which needed reforms and proactive Government support. The constitution envisaged a welfare state from which could ensue in a social democracy and as aptly indicated in the Directive Principles of State Policy, it aimed at imparting education for the destitute and rich alike.
Apart from that the Fundamental duties laid out by the drafting committee exhorted the people to develop scientific temper, humanism and spirit of enquiry and reforms. In fact reforms were started prior to independence though they lacked the pace to form the foundation for a rising sovereign. To mark a fresh beginning, a fully fledged Department of Education, under the Ministry of Human Resource Development was established on 29th August 1947.
Education of masses later became the motto of many political and civil movements and today we see ourselves at a time when Education has become a fundamental right through the landmark legislation of RTE, 2009. The compilation briefly outlines the developments in the education sector after the eve of independence. History of Education in post Independence
A mild retrospection reveals that the new constitution adopted by India did not change the overall administrative policy of the country and Education continued to be prime responsibility of the states and the union government continued to assume responsibility for the coordination of educational facilities and the maintenance of appropriate standards in higher education and research and in scientific and technical education. Meanwhile the Planning Commission was set up to plan the goals for every five year which would elevate the standards of living. The main goals of these plans with relevance to education sector were,
- To achieve universal elementary education
- To eradicate illiteracy
- To establish vocational and skill training programs
- To upgrade standards and modernize all stages of education, with special emphasis on technical education, science, and environmental education, on morality, and on the relationship between school and work,
- To provide facilities for high-quality education in every district of the country.
But the major developments came with appointment of three important commissions by the Government though over a span of a couple of decades, for suggesting educational reforms. The University Education Commission of 1949 made valuable recommendations regarding the reorganization of courses, techniques of evaluation, media of instruction, student services, and the recruitment of teachers.
The Secondary Education Commission of 1952–53 focused mainly on secondary and teacher education. The Education Commission of 1964–66 made a comprehensive review of the entire field of education. It developed a national pattern for all stages of education. The commission’s report led to a resolution on a national policy for education, formally issued by the government of India in July 1968. This policy was revised in 1986. The new policy emphasized educational technology, ethics, and national integration. A core curriculum was introduced to provide a common scheme of studies throughout the country. The national department of education was a part of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, headed by a cabinet minister.
A Central Advisory Board of Education counseled the national and state governments. There were several autonomous organizations attached to the Department of Education. The most important bodies were the All-India Council of Technical Education (1945), the University Grants Commission (1953), and the National Council of Educational Research and Training (1961).
The first body advised the government on technical education and maintained standards for the development of technical education. The second body promoted and coordinated university education and determined and maintained standards of teaching, examination, and research in the universities.
It had the authority to enquire into the financial methods of the universities and to allocate grants. The third body worked to upgrade the quality of school education and assisted and advised the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the implementation of its policies and major programs in the field of education. The central government ran and maintained about 1,000 central schools for children of central government employees. It also developed schools offering quality education to qualified high achievers, irrespective of ability to pay or socioeconomic background. The seventh five-year plan (1985–90) specified that one such vidyalaya would be set up in each district.
The state governments were responsible for all other elementary and secondary education. Conditions, in general, were not satisfactory, although they varied from state to state. Higher education was provided in universities and colleges. From the 1950s to the ’80s, the number of educational institutions in India tripled. The primary schools, especially, experienced rapid growth because the states gave highest priority to the universalisation of elementary education in order to fulfill the constitutional directive of providing universal, free, and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14. Most, but not all, children had a primary school within 1 km of their homes.
A large percentage of these schools, however, were understaffed and did not have adequate facilities. The government, when it revised the national policy for education in 1986, resolved that all children who attained the age of 19 years by 1990 would have five years of formal schooling or its equivalent. Plans were also made to improve or expand adult and informal systems of education. Dissension among political parties, industrialists, businessmen, teacher politicians, student politicians, and other groups and the consequent politicization of education hampered progress at every stage, however.
HIERARCHY OF EDUCATION SYSTEM ELEMENTARY LEVEL
The role of Universal Elementary Education (UEE) for strengthening the social fabric of democracy through provision of equal opportunities to all has been accepted since the inception of our Republic. With the formulation of NPE, India initiated a wide range of programmes for achieving the goal of UEE through several schematic and programme interventions, such as Operation Black Board,Shiksha Karmi Project,Lok Jumbish Programme,Mahila Samakhya,District Primary Education Programme etc. Currently, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is implemented as India’s main programme for universalising elementary education. Its overall goals include universal access and retention, bridging of gender and social category gaps in education and enhancement of learning levels of children.
SSA provides for a variety of interventions, including inter alia, opening of new schools and alternate schooling facilities,construction of schools and additional provisioning for teachers,periodic teacher training and academic resource support, textbooks and support for learning achievement. These provisions need to be aligned with the legally mandated norms and standards and free entitlements mandated by the RTE Act. The new law provides a justiciable legal framework that entitles all children between the ages of 6-14 years free and compulsory admission,attendance and completion of elementary education. It provides for children’s right to an education of equitable quality, based on principles of equity and non-discrimination. Most importantly,it provides for children’s right to an education that is free from fear,stress and anxiety.
SARVA SHIKSHA ABHAYAN
SSA has been operational since 2000-2001 to provide for a variety of interventions for universal access and retention, bridging of gender and social category gaps in elementary education and improving the quality of learning. SSA interventions include inter alia, opening of new schools and alternate schooling facilities, construction of schools and additional classrooms, toilets and drinking water, provisioning for teachers, periodic teacher training and academic resource support, textbooks and support for learning achievement. With the passage of the RTE Act, changes have been incorporated into the SSA approach, strategies and norms.
The changes encompass the vision and approach to elementary education, guided by the following principles:
- Holistic view of education, as interpreted in the National Curriculum Framework 2005, with implications for a systemic revamp of the entire content and process of education with significant implications for curriculum, teacher education, educational planning and management.
- Equity, to mean not only equal opportunity, but also creation of conditions in which the disadvantaged sections of the society – children of SC, ST, Muslim minority, landless agricultural workers and children with special needs, etc. – can avail of the opportunity.
- Access, not to be confined to ensuring that a school becomes accessible to all children within specified distance but implies an understanding of the educational needs and predicament of the traditionally excluded categories – the SC, ST and others sections of the most disadvantaged groups, the Muslim minority, girls in general, and children with special needs.
- Gender concern, implying not only an effort to enable girls to keep pace with boys but to view education in the perspective spelt out in the National Policy on Education 1986 /92; i. e. a decisive intervention to bring about a basic change in the status of women.
- Centrality of teacher, to motivate them to innovate and create a culture in the classroom, and beyond the classroom, that might produce an inclusive environment for children, especially for girls from oppressed and marginalised backgrounds.
- Moral compulsion is imposed through the RTE Act on parents, teachers, educational administrators and other stakeholders, rather than shifting emphasis on punitive processes.
- Convergent and integrated system of educational management is pre-requisite for implementation of the RTE law. All states must move in that direction as speedily as feasible.
MID DAY MEAL SCHEME
With a view to enhancing enrolment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improving nutritional levels among children, the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) was launched as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme on 15th August 1995.
In 2001 MDMS became a cooked Mid Day Meal Scheme under which every child in every Government and Government aided primary school was to be served a prepared Mid Day Meal with a minimum content of 300 calories of energy and 8-12 gram protein per day for a minimum of 200 days.
The Scheme was further extended in 2002 to cover not only children studying in Government, Government aided and local body schools, but also children studying in Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and Alternative & Innovative Education (AIE) centres. In September 2004 the Scheme was revised to provide for Central Assistance for Cooking cost @ Re 1 per child per school day to cover cost of pulses, vegetables cooking oil, condiments, fuel and wages and remuneration payable to personnel or amount payable to agency responsible for cooking.
Transport subsidy was also raised from the earlier maximum of Rs 50 per quintal to Rs. 100 per quintal for special category states and Rs 75 per quintal for other states. Central assistance was provided for the first time for management, monitoring and evaluation of the scheme @ 2% of the cost of foodgrains, transport subsidy and cooking assistance. A provision for serving mid day meal during summer vacation in drought affected areas was also made. In July 2006 the Scheme was further revised to enhance the cooking cost to Rs 1. 80 per child/school day for States in the North Eastern Region and Rs 1. 50 per child / school day for other States and UTs. The nutritional norm was revised to 450 Calories and 12 gram of protein.
In order to facilitate construction of kitchen-cum-store and procurement of kitchen devices in schools provision for Central assistance @ Rs. 60,000 per unit and @ Rs. 5,000 per school in phased manner were made. In October 2007, the Scheme was extended to cover children of upper primary classes (i. e. class VI to VIII) studying in 3,479 Educationally Backwards Blocks (EBBs) and the name of the Scheme was changed from ‘National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education’ to ‘National Programme of Mid Day Meal in Schools’.
The nutritional norm for upper primary stage was fixed at 700 Calories and 20 grams of protein. The Scheme was extended to all areas across the country from 1. 4. 2008. The Scheme was further revised in April 2008 to extend the scheme to recognized as well as unrecognized Madarsas / Maqtabs supported under SSA .