Education is a tool that can play a vital role in improving the socio-economic condition of the nation. It empowers citizens with analytical abilities, leads to better confidence levels and fortifies one with will power and goal setting competencies.
The education sector has been of vital importance to the Indian Government which has been regularly formulating provisions and schemes for promoting elementary education.
The Right to Education has also been enshrined as a Fundamental Right by the Constitution of India. It states that " The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine."To promote literacy among its citizens, the Government of India has launched several schemes such as the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme, Mid-day Meal Scheme and the National Program for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL). One of the most fundamental and promising of these schemes is the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
The Sarv Shikha Abhiyaan (SSA)
The Sarva Shikha Abhiyaan is also known as the Education for All movement or 'Each One Teach One'. It was introduced in 2000-2001 as the flagship programme run by the Government of India. This scheme is framed to provide useful and relevant elementary education for all children in the age group of six to fourteen by 2010.
Aim of SSA
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan aims to bridge social, regional and gender gaps, with the active participation of the community in the management of schools. All efforts to support pre-school learning in ICDS centres or special pre-school centres in non ICDS areas are made to supplement the efforts of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Objectives of SSA
The SSA programme is an endeavour to provide an opportunity for improving human capabilities of all children, through the provision of community-owned quality education in a mission mode. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan had been set with specific targets. These are:
- All children in school, Education Guarantee Centre, Alternate School or 'Back-to-School' camp by 2003.
- All children complete five years of primary schooling by 2007.
- children complete eight years of elementary schooling by 2010.
- Focus on elementary education of satisfactory quality with emphasis on education for life.
- Bridge all gender and social category gaps at the primary stage by 2007 and at the elementary education level by 2010.
- Universal retention by 2010.
The framework of SSA includes appointment of teachers, their training, motivating parents and students, provision of incentives, like, scholarships, uniforms textbooks, etc. The programme also aims to open new schools in areas having inadequate schooling facilities and strengthen existing school infrastructure through the construction of additional class rooms, provision of toilets, drinking water facilities and so on.
Role of Private Sector in SSAThough the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is being administered through government and government aided schools, some private unaided schools are also actively involved in contributing towards universal elementary education. Recently, the government entered into an agreement with the World Bank for assistance to the tune of US $ 600 million to fund the second phase of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is a valuable endeavour of the Government of India, in the universalization of elementary education, which strives to help citizens to realise the importance of elementary education. Social justice and equity are by themselves a strong argument for providing basic education for all. Provision of basic education also improves the standard of living, especially with regard to life expectancy, infant mortality and nutritional status of children.