Elementary Education in India : Progress towards UEE

Prabhat Kishore
Education plays a vital role in the development of a country. It is used to mitigate most of challenges faced in life. The knowledge that is attained through education helps open doors to a lot of opportunities for better prospects in career growth. Elementary education is the foundation of advanced learning. Keeping this in view, during the decade 1991-2000 centrally sponsored District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) was launched for Universalisation of Primary Education (UPE), whereas during 2001-2010 Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) was launched for Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE). It was given legal status on 1 st April 2010 when Right of children to free compulsory education Act 2009 was implemented throughout the country.
In 2018-19, Samagra Shiksha has been launched to cover the children from Pre-Nursery to Class- XII for Universalisation of Education upto Secondary level.
With the improved coverage the number of schools imparting elementary education increased manifold. From 853601 schools in 2002-03 their number has increased to 1449078 in 2015- 16. Of the total 85.38 percent schools are located in the rural areas. During the same period, the number of primary schools increased from 601866 to 840546. On an average, number of primary schools per thousand child population (6 to 11 years) is 9, whereas number of upper primary schools per thousand child population (11 to 14 year) is 8. Density of Primary schools per 10 sq. km is 3.69, whereas in case of upper primary school it is 1.85. Under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a large number of schools have been opened and upgraded. The ratio for the year 2015-16 is one upper primary school for every set of 1.99 primary schools. It is noticed that in about 17 States the ratio of primary to upper primary school is better than the national average. Despite significant improvement in the ratio, there are few States, such as Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Goa, Assam, Manipur and West Bengal, where the ratio still needs to be improved significantly.
Nearly 4.59% schools of the country are private aided whereas 18.50% are private unaided.
The percentage of Government and Government aided schools is as high as 74.32, which shows that eight out of every ten schools imparting elementary education in the country are funded by the government. As many as 162237 new primary and 78903 new upper primary schools have been opened since 2002-03, majority of which are located in rural areas and 99% of these have been provided a school building. Schools imparting elementary education across 680 districts had an average of 5.1 classrooms.
However, a significant difference is noticed in average number in Government (4.2 classrooms) and private managed (7.8 classrooms) schools. About 82% classrooms in primary schools are in good condition and remaining 18% need either minor or major repairs.
In 125 districts of the country student classroom ratio is above 30. On an average about 27 students are sitting in one classroom in elementary schools, but there is alarming situation in Bihar where SCR is 51.
In the country, percentage of primary schools with SCR greater than 30 was 25.74 whereas upper primary school with SCR greater than 35 is 28.01.
Availability of basic facilities in schools may not only attract more children but also help in improving retention rate. Of the total schools about 96.76% have drinking water facilities, 97.07 percent boy’s toilets, 97.58 percent separate toilets for girls and nearly 64.89 percent schools have boundary walls.
Computer education facility is available in 25.97 percent schools in the country. Ramps have been provided in 61.83 percent schools to attract physically challenged children.

(To be contd)