Consultation Paper*





Text Box: *	The views expressed and the suggestions contained in this paper are intended for the sole purpose of generating a public debate and eliciting public response.




September 26, 2001


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Advisory Panel


Promoting Literacy; generating employment;

ensuring Social Security; alleviation of poverty



Shri K. Parasaran




Smt. V. Mohini Giri




q       Dr. Abid Hussain

q       Dr. N.C. Saxena

q       Dr. E.A.S. Sarma




Dr. Raghbir Singh








This Consultation Paper on ‘Literacy in the Context of the Constitution of India’ is based on a paper prepared by Shri K. Ramamoorthy, IAS (Retd.), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat, and Dr. K.V. Raman, former Member, Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board and former Director, National Academy of Agricultural Research Management, Hyderabad.  


The Commission places on record its profound appreciation of and gratitude to Shri K. Ramamoorthy and Dr. K.V. Raman for their contribution.

















Literacy : Its Scope and Dimensions




Constitutional provisions.




Historical Background and Review of Achievements




Into the Future.




Promoting Literacy: Some Implementation Strategies




Issues for Consideration




Suggestions for Amending Provisions










































1.         In this Chapter, a general overview of the need for literacy and education is outlined to justify literacy being a part of Constitutional Provisions and guarantees. In addition to the simple definition as given in the Census, the broader dimensions of literacy in its relationship with Education and Societal Development are also mentioned. Role of literacy as a part of the Human Rights dialogue and also as an integral part of the Human Development index is also discussed.


1.1        Having given unto ourselves a written Constitution, the very preamble of which proclaims Equality of opportunity as an express intent, the concern for literacy as an important parameter is obvious.



Definition of Literacy


1.2        Literacy, as defined in Census operations, is the ability to read and write with understanding in any language.  A person who can merely read but cannot write is not classified as literate.  Any formal education or minimum educational standard is not necessary to be considered literate.  Adopting these definitions, the literacy level of the country as a whole was only 29.45 per cent with male literacy at 39.45 per cent and female literacy at 18.69 per cent. As per the latest Census estimates (2001), the All-India figure has gone up to 65.38 per cent; About three-fourths of our menfolk (75.85 %) are literate whereas over half of our womenfolk (54.16 %) are also literate. As later discussed in this Paper, this should be regarded as no mean achievement, despite the fact that we have not met the Constitutional directives that we have set for ourselves.



Illiteracy – National and International Dimensions


1.3        The problems of illiteracy are not confined to India, but are also a malady in developed countries too.  Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, devoted the Spring 1990 issue to study the problem of Literacy in America. The Journal quotes Joseph Murphy, Chancellor, City University of New York who stated: “There are as many as 60 million illiterate and semi-literate adults in America today.  Because poverty and illiteracy go hand in hand, the poor are disenfranchised, cut off from the democratic process.  Any account that does not discuss the political interests served by allowing a large proportion of the American people to remain disenfranchised does not touch the heart of the matter.  Before the Civil War in the United States it was illegal to teach slaves to read, for reading was acknowledged, as the tool needed to understand the social, historical, behavioral and physical laws that controls the human condition.  An apprehension of those forces invests human beings with the capacity to alter the conditions of their lives.  It is not too far fetched to draw an analogy between slaves in the nineteenth century and illiterate Americans today.” While this may be a strong statement, it reflects the concern on the prevailing levels of illiteracy and its consequent effects.


1.3.1     A leading German magazine ‘Stern’ points out that even in the United Kingdom, “One out of five adults in the land of William Shakespeare and Harry Potter is practically illiterate or has problems counting money in the purse.” According to Daniel A. Wagner, Director, Literacy Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania, over one billion individuals worldwide, nearly 25% of today’s youth and adults, can’t read.  Even fewer comprehend numeracy and far fewer have access to electronic superhighway.  “Achieving a literate society in which adults can fully participate in the workplace, community, and family will be a major challenge for the world in the coming millenium”.


1.3.2     Illiteracy is one of the major problems faced by the developing world, specially Africa and South-East Asia and has been identified as the major cause of socio-economic and ethnic conflicts that frequently surface in the region.



Need to go beyond Rudimentary Literacy


1.4        With the limited definition of ‘literacy’ being adopted for enumeration purposes, there has been concern on the content of a Mass Literacy program. The focus of mass literacy efforts is in terms of basics – the mechanics of reading and attention to computation (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) in mathematics.  It is recognized that these basics are not rooted in the goals of higher-order thinking – conceptualizing, inferring, inventing, testing, hypothesis and thinking critically.  It is true that these literacy programs do not have in mind, literacy practice that would promote capacities for independent reasoning, of the kind sought by Third World socially minded pedagogues like Paulo Friere or the leading edge of reformers, business leaders and cognitive psychologists. A candid analysis of illiteracy’s political and cultural consequences throughout the population will necessitate in our seeking to move literacy expectations beyond a rudimentary ability to read, write and calculate. The recognition that ‘literacy’ has to be situationally relevant has given rise to the concept of ‘functional literacy’, which has been referred to by the Second Education Commission.


1.4.1     The need to go into the broader aspect is for the purpose of determining the structure of the system.  In devising the system, educational and psychological philosophies of Adler, Dewey, Witttgenstein, Chomsky and our own Mahatma Gandhi (in his basic education concept) and other experiences will come into play. Indeed, it is probably in recognition of this limited scope of literacy, that our Constitution makes a reference to education and educational opportunities and not to literacy. 



Literacy and Human Rights.


1.5        Literacy is now part of the Human Rights Dialogue.  Now most of the nations of the world have also accepted their obligation to provide at least free elementary education to their citizens.  Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares:


Everyone has the right to education.  Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.  Elementary education shall be compulsory.  Technical and Professional education shall be generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit”.


1.5.1     This Right is also repeated in the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child which seeks to ensure “Right to free and compulsory education at least in the elementary stages and education to promote general culture, abilities, judgment and sense of responsibility to become a useful member of society and opportunity to recreation, and play to attain the same purpose as of education”.


1.5.2     India has ratified the above, and these have thus the power of domestic laws.  From the Human Rights perspective, constitutional guarantees arise automatically.





Literacy and Human Development.


1.6        Investment potential on human capital has now been recognized.  Economists had long assumed that the main component of a country’s productive wealth is physical assets (“produced assets”).  But according to World Bank’s assessment for 192 countries, physical capital on average accounts only for 16% of total wealth.  More important is natural wealth, which accounts for 20%. And more important still is human capital, which accounts for 64%.  Literacy is now part of the Human Development Index.  Government of India has also accepted this position, and one of the important components in the National Human Development initiative announced in the Union Budget 1999-2000 is education, forming also a component in the Prime Minister’s ‘Special Action Plan’.


1.6.1     By improving people’s ability to acquire and use information, education deepens their understanding of themselves and the world, enriches their minds by broadening their experiences, and improves the choices they make as consumers, producers and citizens.  Education strengthens their ability to meet their wants and those of their family by increasing their productivity and their potential to achieve a higher standard of living.  By improving people’s confidence and their ability to create and innovate, it multiplies their opportunities for personal and social achievement.  Japan’s rapid industrialization after the Meiji Restoration was fuelled by its aggressive accumulation of technical skills, which in turn was based on the already high level of literacy and a strong commitment to education, especially the training of engineers.


1.6.2     In the field of Development Economics, literacy holds an important place as a parameter to measure development.  It has been recognized that the “Human Development Index” (HDI) developed by UN is a measure of the overall development of the country. One of the three components used in the calculation of HDI is “Literacy” as it is a cumulative measure of several factors that contribute to human development. As per UN Development Report, 2000, India’s ranking in HDI is 128, with education index registering a low .55 due to a low adult literacy rate of 55.7 and combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment of 54.  In their book, “Development Reconsidered”, Owens and Shaw have stated: “It is self-evident that literacy is a basic element of a nationwide knowledge system.  The most important element of a literacy program is not the program itself, but the incentive to become and remain literate.”  When people are able to believe that they can improve their lives through their own efforts, when they realize that some newly created opportunity is denied to them by illiteracy, then they will learn how to read, write and count.” 


1.6.3     Education is thus viewed as an integral part of national development.  Development is not only ‘economic growth’; rather, it ‘comprehended opportunities to all people for better life’ with ‘man as end of development and instrument’.  Education and development are linked in a variety of ways.  First, education, as stated earlier, is a human right, the exercise of which is essential for individual development and fulfillment.  The capacity of an individual to contribute to societal development is made possible and enhanced by his or her development as an individual. In this light, education is also a basic need.  It is also a means by which other needs, both collective and individual, are realized.  Thus, education is the instrument by which the skills and productive capacities are developed and endowed.  All these interrelationships of education and development are inseparable from the conception of educational policies.  It is in the second order of ‘action’ that problems arise.  The problems of illiteracy will not solve by itself in the flux of time.  Without organized literacy action, illiteracy will continue to stagnate indefinitely along with the associated ills of poverty and underdevelopment. Experience has shown that determined literacy action is the exception and that more often, literacy campaigns are ‘turned on’ and ‘turned off’ in line with short-term policy changes.  Hence the need for Constitutional guarantees. In the light of the discussions earlier, Literacy and Education have overlapping connotations both as an engine of socio-economic progress as well as for individual growth. An attempt at serious semantic distinction between is not followed here in the discussions. 



Aid for Education by State


1.7        Concern for literacy arises from the clearly related question as to whether educational expansion has created the conditions for freer individual expression, for a more active participation in the body politic, for what Pericles called “sound judges of policy”, and for greater respect for human welfare and dignity.  Many feel, as indeed the Constitution makers felt, that education is its own reward- i.e. the more one is educated, the greater is his possibility of developing these qualities. Thus, they believed that the future and hope of mankind lie in educational advancement and a Welfare State has to make suitable provision for the same.  Education is valuable by itself for discovering “the treasure within”, as has been mentioned by UNESCO.


1.7.1     As stated in the Constitution, the State has to set for itself a Welfare goal. It should, therefore, take upon itself all activities and steps to move towards this goal. Most major classical economists have argued by their extensive earlier writings the need for State provision, under the proposition that the private market would under provide education. E. G. West (1965), in a thought-provoking book on education, argues that a strong case can be made for State intervention in education (but not for direct State provision of education) on two counts, namely, the externality effects of education and the alleged incompetence or ignorance of parents.  Advocates of State education in the past have usually rested their case predominantly on the two extra economic considerations of equality of opportunity and social cohesion.









2.         This Chapter sets out to list the provisions contained in the Constitution of India along with a mention of some of the decided cases, which have given a wide amplitude to such provisions.  The amendments as affect education are mentioned.  There are 16 Articles and other mentions in the Constitution and 4 specific amendments to advance the cause of education.



Education for Social transformation


2.1        The Indian Constitution has recognized the significance of education for social transformation.  It is a document committed to social justice.  The Preamble affirms a determination to secure liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship and equality of status and opportunity and to promote amongst the people a feeling of fraternity, ensuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation.   Literacy forms the cornerstone for making the provision of equality of opportunity a reality.  The objective specified in the Preamble contains the basic structure of the Constitution, which cannot be amended, and the preamble may be invoked to determine the ambit of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy.   Judicial interpretation has brought alive many an Article of the Constitution, which if read literally may seem to be a colorless Article. Of relevance to literacy, for instance, is the wide interpretation given to the words ‘personal; liberty’.  In Francis Coralie Mulin v. Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi (1981), Justice Bhagwati observed:


“The fundamental right to life which is the most precious human right and which forms the arc of all other rights must therefore be interpreted in a broad and expansive spirit so as to invest it with significance and vitality which may endure for years to come and enhance the dignity of the individual and the worth of the human person. We think that the right to life includes right to live, with human dignity and all that goes along with it, namely, the bare necessaries of life such as adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter and facilities for reading, writing and expressing oneself in diverse forms, freely moving about, mixing and co-mingling with fellow human beings.”   


2.2        Again, the Supreme Court in its judgment in the case of Bandhua Mukti Morcha, etc. vs. Union of India (J.T. 1997 (5) SC 285) specifically referred to the earlier judgments made in this connection as under:


“In Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Education v. K.S. Gandhi JT 1991 (2) SC 296, right to education at the secondary stage was held to be a fundamental right.  In J.P.Unnikrishnan V. State of Andhra Pradesh JT 1993 (1) SC 474, a constitution Bench had held education upto the age of 14 years to be a fundamental right…. It would be therefore incumbent upon the State to provide facilities and opportunity as enjoined under Article 39 (e) and (f) of the Constitution and to prevent exploitation of their childhood due to indigence and vagary.”



Specific Constitutional provisions.


2.3        The Table below gives the Constitutional provisions relating to Education and educational opportunity - the key vehicle for literacy:


Table 1

Constitutional Provisions


Part / Article



To secure to all its citizens EQUALITY of status and opportunity.

Fundamental Rights

Article 12  Definition of “the State”

State aid, control and regulation so impregnating a private activity as to give it the color of “State action” (M.C.Mehta v.UOI)

Article 14: Equality before law

Equality before law invoked to regulate rules of admission                                 

(G.Beena v. A.P.University of Health Sc. AIR 1990 AP 252)


Article 19: Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.

Right to freedom of speech, which has been interpreted as a Right to Know (L.K.Koolwal v. State of Rajasthan AIR 1988 Raj. 2)


Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty

Right to life “………..the fewer elegances of human civilisation, right to dignity, to health and healthy environ to clean water, to free education upto 14 years are parts of Right to Life under Article 21 (See Nalla Thampi, 1985; Francis Coralie, 1981, Mehta 1987, Wadhera, 1996, Unnikrishnan, 1993; Mahendra 1997, etc.”.

Right to livelihood: Is an integral facet of the right to life.  Narendra Kumar v. State of Haryana, JT(1994) 2 SC 94.

As Prof. D.D. Basu has annotated:   “Articles 19 and 21 are not water-tight compartments. On the other hand, the expression of ‘personal liberty’ in Art. 21 is of the widest amplitude, covering a variety of rights of which some have been included in Art.19 and given additional protection.

From A.Gopalan to Maneka the judicial exploration has completed its “trek from North Pole to the South Pole”. The decision in Maneka’s is being followed by the Supreme Court in subsequent  cases.

Article 29: Protection of interests of minorities

Cultural and Educational Rights – protection of interests of Minorities. Although commonly Art. 29(1) is assumed to relate to minorities, its scope is not necessarily so confined, as it is available to “any section of citizens resident in the territory of India”.  This may well include the majority, as Ray, C.J. pointed out in Ahmedabad St.Xavier College Society v. State of  Gujarat, AIR 1974 SC  1389.

Article 30(1): Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions

Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions. The right under this article is subject to the regulatory power of the state. This article is not a charter for maladministration Virendra Nath v. Delhi (1990) 2 SCC 307

This broad statement of the legal position is illustrated by and draws support from a host of decided cases beginning from Kerala Education Bill, In re. AIR 1958 SC 956 to St. Stephen’s College  v. University of Delhi.  This Article does not come in the way of enactments for ensuring educational standards and maintaining excellence thereof.

Directive Principles of State Policy

Article 39(f): Certain principles to be followed by the State

Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State. This Article has been described as having the object of securing a Welfare State and may be utilized for construing provisions as to the Fundamental Rights. (Keshavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973) 4 SC 228.

Article 41: Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases

Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases. Court should so interpret an Act as to advance Art.41:  Jacob v. Kerala Water Authority (1991) I SCC 28.


Art. 45: Provision for free and compul­sory education for children

The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of the Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

Art. 46: Promotion of educational and economic interests of S.C.,

S.T. and other weaker sections.

The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

Art.51A(h): Fundamental Duties


Fundamental duty to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform.  Where the constitutionality of an Act is challenged, court may look at this Article to uphold it. Mohan v. Union of India (1992) Supp 1 SCC 594.  It can be used for interpreting ambiguous statutes.  Head Masters v.U.O.I AIR 1983 Cal. 448

Other provisions

Articles 246 and 254: Subject-matter of laws made by Parlia­ment and by the Legislatures of the States and inconsistency of laws

Concurrent list and inclusion of education thereunder. The Scheme of distribution of legislative powers under the Indian Constitution – such distribution being a necessary  component of a federal political structure – raises interesting issues where co-existence of central and state Laws in a particular area gives rise to litigation.  It is only where the legislation is a matter in the concurrent list that it would be relevant to apply the test of repugnancy.

Article 280: Finance Commission 

Finance Commission can suggest measures to augment The Consolidated Fund to supplement the resource of the Panchayat in the State as also of the Municipalities.

Article 337: Special provision with respect to educational grants for the benefit of Anglo-Indian community.

During the first three financial years after the commencement of this Constitution, the same grants, if any, shall be made by the Union and by each State for the benefit of the Anglo-Indian community in respect of education as were made in the financial year ending on the thirty-first day of March, 1948.

During every succeeding period of three years, the grants may be less by ten percent than those of the immediately preceding period of three years:

            Provided that at the end of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, such grants, to the extent to which they are a special concession to the Anglo-Indian community, shall cease:

            Provided further that no educational institution shall be entitled to receive any grant under this article unless at least forty per cent of the annual admissions therein are made available to members of communities other than the Anglo-Indian community.

Part XVII: Official language

This whole Part deals with language, an inherent part of

Literacy with a specific mention in Art. 350A for facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stage.



There have been specific amendments to the Constitution affecting education, as can be seen in 42nd, 73rd, 74th and 83rd Amendment Acts. These amendments pertain to provisions to enable education being included in the Concurrent List, devolution of powers to local bodies and making elementary education a Fundamental Right formally (from its present status of Directive Principles though this has been ruled as such through judicial interpretation even otherwise).



Equality of educational opportunity


2.4        Since ‘Equality of Opportunity” is a basic feature of the Constitution, being a part of the Preamble itself, judicial interpretation has been sought on the different facets of this principle of equality of educational opportunity.  For many, egalitarianism in education is seen as a powerful force for the achievement of a just, more equitable society through its contribution to greater social mobility, the ‘breaking of any connection between the distribution of education and distribution of personal income’ (Blaug).  Yet the “equality of education” concept can be given a variety of interpretations, each leading to different policy outcomes.  In particular, “equality of education” may concern equality of access to education, equality of educational treatment or equality of ultimate educational performance.  Our Courts have wrestled with this problem in the face of affirmative action or what is known as ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of the deprived sections while at the same time preserving the needs of quality of education and fair play.   The argument in this regard is somewhat on the following lines: “The liberal goal of providing education according to each individual’s capacity or aptitude (rather than his socio-economic background) is unhelpful because the criteria used for identifying aptitudes, or ‘intelligence’ are themselves correlated with the social background.  Hence society must adopt special methods to compensate for the deficiencies of the environment in which children grow and which account largely for their unequal educational performance; this would take the form of a national policy of ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of the underprivileged. The Constitutional provisions have come in very useful to resolve what are essentially political and ideological objectives and the policy conflict of parental free-choice versus educational equality (should education be available in accordance with parental willingness to pay or in relation to capacity to learn?), to avoid bringing about a marked decline in educational standards.



Litigation and education


2.5        The huge volume of litigation and the mass of decided cases interpreting constitutional provisions are thus a sufficient testimony to the usefulness of constitutional provision in this vital field.  The pronouncements of the Courts have been on varied subjects, affecting the quality and quantity of educational services not only encompassing service and management equities, but also such academic questions as medium of instruction access and autonomy of institutions.  That the Government has sought to bring forward amendments also shows its imperative to continue to use this document to pursue this welfare objective.  In fact, the sheer load of litigation may be proving a bane in one sense, negating the very purpose for which such Constitutional provisions are sought. It has also been lamented that follow-up action on Constitutional Amendments had either not taken place, or slow in implementation.



Education and Judiciary


2.6        True, economic transformation is the primary function of the Executive and the Legislature.  But where Justice is the end product and its content has socio-economic components, the Constitution, which is the nidus of all Power, commands the judges to catalyze and control, monitor and mandate by writs, orders and direction – vide Arts. 32 and 226- so that they may bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution and say that ‘thy will shall be done’. The interventions of the judiciary from time to time upholding the responsibilities of the State in the all-important educational endeavors, have been positive in providing directions.










3.         In this Chapter, a general review of the progress in universalization of literacy including its socio-political and economic dimensions is given. The need for compulsory elementary education and free education at that level and the urgency thereof so as not to carry the burden into the 21st century is emphasized.  Though a substantial progress has been achieved in the field of literacy, the basic Constitutional provision of universalization of elementary education, to have been achieved by 1960, is still eluding us; even by 2000, only 90% is targeted to be achieved.


3.1        For the purpose of this Consultation Paper, this Review will be confined to two specific aspects, viz.


(1)              Literacy, as this has a direct link with the concept of Welfare State enshrined in our Constitution and

(2)              Universalization of Elementary Education which has been spelt out as a specific Directive Principle of State Policy, and which provision has been interpreted to be of the nature of a Fundamental Right, and later has been incorporated as such also. 


3.2        There are several published papers on the subject critically reviewing the progress that we have made in the area of education. As a matter of fact, over the last five decades, a separate sub-discipline in Economics, Economics of Education has developed and there is already published material, which deals at length and in depth the various issues involved. A mass of statistical data is also available in the Census and regular Returns filed by the various State Education Departments (compiled and published by the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India) and in the various in-depth studies conducted from time to time. These make the task of review relatively simple, as reliable data are available.


Census 2001


3.3        The major advantages of the census data are that they are based on complete enumeration and are, therefore, more reliable than projections and estimates. Further, they provide an opportunity to observe trends over a period of time and draw meaningful conclusions to facilitate planning. Some of the salient features of the current Census data are given in Table 2. The latest census data on literacy as compared with the 1991 data is given in Appendix I.  As stated earlier, a little above three-fourths of our male population have been found to be literate and a little above half of our female population have also been found to be literate as per this Census report.


Table 2



Census 2001

Population of India :  A little over 1,027,000,000.  This figure represents one-sixth of the population of the entire planet.

Growth rate of Population:  has fallen by 2.52 per cent over the previous decade

Literacy Rate:  At All India level:  65.38 % overall; male literacy : 75.96 %   Female literacy :  54.28%.  This represents an increase in overall literacy per centage by 13.75% from last Census. The corresponding increases in Male and Female literacy are:  11.83 % and 14.99 %.

Sex Ratio:  Has gone up to 933 from the earlier Census figure of 927


The increase of 13.75% in literacy rate in the last one decade, marks a recognition of the combined efforts in the field of elementary education and adult education through the total literacy campaigns.


3.3.1     These figures are interesting in another sense as they represent crossing of another threshold in the Development field.  Literacy and economic development may not be directly linked as many studies in the Developing World would indicate. To quote Owens and Shaw: “Literacy has suffered by being treated by the advocates of universal literacy as a kind of panacea for whatever they conceive to be the ailments of an undeveloped country.  However, marginal people see no reason to be literate. Literacy does not provide access if people are not organized to participate in development.  For this reason, there appears to be little relationship between literacy and economic growth.  When the Age of Development began, the rate of literacy in the Philippines and some Latin countries was considerably higher than in Taiwan and Korea and is still much higher than in Egypt or Comilla county of Bangladesh.  Argentina and Chile combine exceptionally high literacy rates, by Third World standards, with a very low economic growth rates.”  Having stated this, the point remains that there is, however, a threshold requirement. A distinguished economist, Dr. Malcolm Adiseshiah states: “There is however, a threshold of somewhere around fifty per cent of the population being literate for Development to take place as no country has ever achieved an industrial growth with a literacy rate below fifty per cent…If we want the National Development portrayed in our Draft Plan, we must reach the minimum Adult Education threshold”


Apart from the overall literacy figures, even distribution of these literacy figures, show that all the States excepting for Bihar (which also only falls marginally below at 47.27) have achieved this threshold. Even in Bihar, the male literacy figure is above the 50 per cent figure.  In a macro sense, this achievement is encouraging. 


3.3.2     The other statistic regarding the fall on population growth is also significant and relevant for our purpose as it will mean lesser provision necessary to be made in the Plan budget for new enrolments, lesser in the sense of incremental addition required for school teachers, etc.  While quantitative expansion in specific areas at least in the elementary section may still be necessary, its rate will now be less with the control of population increases and more Plan funds can now be diverted to other areas of necessity within the elementary education budget.







Article 45


3.4        The provision in Article 45 is:

“The state shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years”.


3.4.1     It is 40 years since the deadline expired, and we are still to achieve it. Admittedly there has been failure in this front, and the revised target is now 2000.  In the document Education For All, the Department’s own statement on the subject (as expressed through the NIEPA document) is as under:


“A review of the progress of basic education shows that goals and targets were fixed in the past on the basis of an inadequate understanding of the significance of education.  These targets did not take into account the problem of availability of resources, and the conflicting claims of social and economic planning.  When the Constitution directed the State to endeavour, within a period of ten years, to provide free and compulsory education to all children till 14 years of age (Article 45), it was expressing an ideal to which the whole nation was expected to commit itself.  In the event, however, this commitment and the resources, which go with it, were not forthcoming.  The Education Commission (1964-66) indicated targets in a similar time frame and it also made similar assumptions regarding national commitment and the availability of resources.   By 1986, the experience of planning more than three and a half decades had amply highlighted the diversity and complexity of the problems the country had been facing in achieving the goal of basic education for all.  Notwithstanding this, the Parliament, while approving the National Policy on Education in 1986, chose to approve the following formulation of the target: “It shall be ensured that all children who attain the age of 11 years by 1990 will have had five years of schooling or its equivalent though the non-formal stream.  Likewise, by 1995, all children will be provided free and compulsory education upto14 years of age.”  Interestingly, here again the timeframe of roughly a decade was chosen.  It became apparent very soon that the targets set for 1900 would not be achieved.  It appears that in setting such high targets, the Parliament, like the Constituent Assembly, was reiterating its commitment to the ideal of education for all and was expressing its firm belief that education is a basic right that cannot be denied to anybody.    If right from the beginning, it is apparent that the goals are unrealistic and unachievable, they do not lead to the kind of motivation and resource mobilization required. The right approach therefore, is to set realistic targets – realistic not to be defined as easily achievable, but as achievable, with conceivable maximum input of meticulous planning and resources – financial as well as human.  We shall therefore proceed to propose realistic targets that we believe can be achieved by the year 200.” 


3.4.2     The new slogans are:


              Primary Education is a basic need

              For every child, no matter what caste or creed,

              Every child we must carefully nourish

              So that our country may progress and flourish

              From illiteracy to literacy – Education for all by the year 2000






3.4.3     The National EFA goal statements may be seen below:



The goals for Education For All in India Constitute:


1.       Expansion of early childhood care and development activities, especially for poor, disadvantaged and disabled children, through a multi-pronged effort involving families, communities and appropriate institutions.

2.       Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE), viewed as a complete program of:

(a)                Access to Elementary Education to all children upto 14 years of age.

(b)               Universal participation till they complete their elementary stage through formal or non-formal education programs.

(c)                Universal achievement of at least minimum levels of learning.

3.       Drastic reduction in illiteracy, particularly in the 15 to 35 age group, bringing the literacy level in this age group to at least 80 % in each gender and for each identified disadvantaged group, besides ensuring that the levels of the three R’s are relevant to the living and working conditions of the people.

4.       Provision of opportunities to maintain, use and upgrade education and, provision of facilities for development of skills to all persons who are functionally literate and those who have received primary education through formal and non-formal channels.

5.       Creation of necessary structures, and the setting in motion of processes which could empower women and make education an instrument of women’s equality.

6.       Improving the contents and process of education to relate it better to the empowerment, people’s culture and with their living and working conditions thereby enhancing their ability to learn and cope with the problems of livelihood and environment.


Historical background


3.5        India has a long tradition of organized education.  As a historian has put it, “There is no other country where the love of learning had so early an origin or has exercised so lasting and powerful an influence.”  However, educational effort in the country has come a long way from this traditional position in its definition, coverage as well as impact.  The current educational system in the country operates in an altogether different context from the classical past.  The country’s commitment to the provision of education for all and its endeavor to achieve this goal in a speedy fashion has to be seen in this complex milieu within which the educational system is currently functioning.


3.5.1     As the veteran educationist Shri J.P.Naik put it: “The Indian Society, especially the Hindu Society has been extremely inegalitarian, and this (provision of equality of educational opportunity) is the one value on the basis of which the society can be humanized and strengthened. In fact, the issue is so crucial that the Indian society cannot even hope to survive except on the basis of an egalitarian reorganization”.  Between 1813 and 1921, the British administrators laid the foundations of the modern educational system.  The principal positive contribution of the British administrators to equality was to give all citizens open access to educational institutions maintained from or supported by public funds.  For instance, the worst difficulties were perhaps encountered when the problem of educating the “untouchable” castes came up.


3.5.2     The first test case arose in 1856 when a boy from an untouchable caste applied for admission to the government school at Dharwar.  He was refused admission on the ground that it would result in the withdrawal of all the caste Hindu children from the school and thus in the closure of the school itself. But the decision was sharply criticized by the Governor General of India as well as by the Court of Directors in the East India Company and a clear policy was laid down that no untouchable child should be refused admission to a government school even if it meant the closure of the school (Report of the Indian Education Commission, 1882). The British administrators thus established, firmly and unequivocally, the right of every child irrespective of caste, sex or traditional taboos, to seek admission to all schools supported or aided by public funds.  The British administrators refused to accept the principle of compulsory elementary education.  The Indian nationalist thought, however, was firmly of the view that the provision of equality of educational opportunity must include a certain minimum general education to be provided to all children on a free and compulsory basis.  A demand that four years of compulsory education (which would ensure effective literacy) should be provided to all children was put forward, for the first time before the Indian Education Commission by the Grand Old Man of India, Dadabhai Naoroji in 1881.  Gopal Krishna Gokhale who moved a resolution on the subject in the Central Legislative Assembly in 1910 and again took the proposal vide a bill in 1912, neither of which achieved their objective. At this stage, it is illuminating to read the then announced Indian Educational Policy,

1913.  It begins as under:


“His Most Gracious Imperial Majesty the King Emperor, in replying to the address of the Calcutta University on the 6th January 1912, said: -

“It is my wish that there may be spread over the land a network of schools and colleges from which will go forth loyal and manly and useful citizens, able to hold their own in industries and agriculture and all the vocations in life.  And it is my wish too, that the homes of my Indian subjects may be brightened and their labour sweetened by the spread of knowledge with all that follows in its train, a higher level of thought, comfort and of health.  It is through education that my wish will be fulfilled, and the cause of education in India will ever be very close to my heart.”


The Government of India, have decided, with the approval of the Secretary of State, to assist Local Governments, by means of large grants from imperial revenues as funds become available’, to extend comprehensive systems of education in the several provinces.  Each province has its own educational system, which has grown up under local conditions and become familiar to the people as a part of their general well being.  In view of the diverse social conditions in India there cannot in practice be one set of regulations and one rate of progress for the whole of India.  Even within provinces there is scope for greater variety in types if institutions that exists today. The Government of India have no desire to deprive Local Governments of interest and initiative in education.  But it is important at intervals to review educational policy in India as a whole.  Principles, bearing on education in its wider aspects and under modern conditions and conceptions, on orientalia and on the special needs of the domiciled community, were discussed at three important conferences of experts and representative non-officials held within the last two years.  These principles are the basis of accepted policy.  How far they can at any time find local application must be determined with reference to local conditions.


3.5.3     On the question compulsory and free elementary education, the Policy stated:


“10. The propositions that illiteracy must be broken down and that primary education has, in the present circumstances of India, a predominant claim upon the public funds, represent accepted policy no longer open to discussion.  For financial and administrative reasons of decisive weight, the Government of India have refused to recognize the principle of compulsory education, but they desire the widest possible extension of primary education on a voluntary basis.  As regards free elementary education, the time has not yet arrived when it is practicable to dispense wholly with fees without injustice to the many villages, which are waiting for the provision of schools.  The fees derived from those pupils who can pay them are now devoted to the maintenance and expansion of primary education, and a total remission of fees would involve to a certain extent a more prolonged postponement of the provision of schools in villages without them.  In some provinces, elementary education is already free and in the majority of provinces, liberal provision is already made for giving free elementary instruction to those boys whose parents cannot afford to pay fees. Local Governments have been requested to extend the application of the principle of free elementary education amongst the poorer and more backward sections of the population.  Further than this it is not possible at present to go.”

3.5.4     The public demand for compulsory primary education continued however to grow, and between 1918 and 1931 compulsory education laws were passed for most parts of the country by the newly elected State legislatures in which Indians were in majority.  In 1937, Mahatma Gandhi put forward his scheme of Basic Education under which education of seven or eight years duration was to be provided for all children and its content was to be revolutionized by building it round a socially useful productive craft.  As a result of all these efforts, the idea that it was the duty of the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children till they reached the age of 14 years was nationally accepted as an important aspect of the overall effort to provide equality of opportunity. Under the wise leadership of Sir John Sargent, the then educational adviser to the Government of India, these ideas were accepted by the British administrators and the Post-war Plan of educational development in India (1944) known popularly as the Sargent Plan, put forward proposals to provide free and compulsory basic education to all children in the age group 6-14 over a period of 40 years. (1944-1984).  The nationalist opinion did not accept this long period, and a committee under the chairmanship of B.G.Kher proposed that this goal could and should be achieved in a period of 16 years (1944-1960).  It was this recommendation that was eventually incorporated in the Constitution as a Directive Principle of State Policy.  It was thus not a mere statement of an ideal, but a well-thought out enunciation of a policy, which is yet to be implemented though a substantial component was sought to be achieved by 2000 under the Education for All plan. 



Review of achievements – elementary school stage


3.6        It is a very healthy administrative practice of the Education Department to publish annually a variety of information on different aspects of education through its Educational Statistics. Even a routine analysis of the variety of information that the government collects in the application for administering the programs, is an eye-opener.   While preparing the document Education For All, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has brought out a compendium of relevant statistics, culled out from the annual statements regularly sent by the State Governments. The accompanying Box gives the decadal progress in enrolment, which shows a growing curve.


Table 3

Progress in Universalization of Elementary Education Enrolment


Gross Enrolment Ratios #

(per cent)





I – V Primary*

VI– VIII Upper Primary**

I – V Primary

VI– VIII Upper Primary

I – V Primary

VI– VIII Upper Primary












































*Primary I – V    Age Group 6 –11 years

** Upper Primary VI – VIII Age Group 11 – 14 years

 # Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) is defined as the per centage of the enrolment in classes I-V and VI VIII and/or I-VIII to the estimated child population in the age groups 6-11 years and 11-14 and/or 6-14 years respectively. Enrolment in these stages include under-age and over-age children. Hence the total per centage may be more than 100% in some cases.


Table 4



Drop out Rates at Elementary and Middle Stages ##







Classes I-V






















Classes I-VIII























##         Rate of Drop has been defined as per centage of the number of children to total enrolment, dropping out of the school education system in a particular year.



3.6.1     A core curriculum is emphasized at the elementary school level. This is a carefully planned curriculum that in content it compares favourably with those adopted in a number of other countries. A common core can help in overcoming discrepancies between the educational opportunities of urban and rural people, and that of men and women, but it cannot eliminate those difficulties unless literacy rates improve, greater participation occurs in school and other changes take place in society.    


3.6.2     In addition to the regular statistical return system, which is regularly compiled and published under the heading Education in India each academic year (There are normally 16 Tables.  These statistics are also followed by 5 or 6 illustrations), there are also two expert institutions under the aegis of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, viz. National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) which carry out regular research and surveys, and in-depth analyses. 


NCERT has been conducting regular educational surveys and the report of the Sixth Educational Survey was published in 1995.  Highlights of the findings of this survey are:



Sixth All India Education Survey

(Conducted by the NCERT)


Main Outcomes of the Survey


1.       94 per cent of the Rural Population is served within 1.0 kilometers by Primary Stage

2.       85 per cent of the Rural Population is served within 3.0 kilometers by Upper Primary Stage

3.       Of the Total 8,22,486 schools in the country, 5,70,455 and 1.62,805 are Primary and Upper Primary Schools respectively.

4.       Of the total 15,39,06,057 pupils enrolled in all the schools, 9,70,29,235 and 5,40,71,058 are children enrolled in Primary grades (Grades I –V) and Upper Primary (Grades VI – VIII) stages respectively.

5.       Of the total 41,97,555 teachers, 16,23,379 and 11,29,747 teachers are employed in Primary and Upper Primary Schools.

6.       84 per cent of the primary and 89 per cent of the Upper Primary Schools have pucca and partly pucca buildings.



3.6.4     Similarly, NIEPA had carried out a research study on the regional dimension of educational development based on Fourth All India Educational Survey data.  (Similar comprehensive analysis of the data of the later surveys has also been made). In the survey, the following attributes of schooling are analyzed:


·         Accessibility,

·         Availability,

·         Quantity,

·         Quality,

·         Inter-connectivity

·         Equity, and

·         Utility.


In that study  (School Education in India, Regional Dimension), it was found that in spite of the progress in the quantitative expansion of education and the apparent narrowing gaps between different social groups, inequities within the educational system of the country continue to be quite sharp. The variations one observes in the regional distributions (Inter-State variations) have already been highlighted.


Inequities get complicated in the case of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes women in the rural areas of the backward regions.  The literacy rate among this group in the 1991 Census was only 16 %.  This was followed by SC Rural Male (19.45 %), SC Urban Female (42.25 %).  If arranged as an inverse pyramid, the Non-scheduled Urban populations (both Male and Female) are on the top. Presenting the literacy level of different components of the population brings out the nature of this multi-level system of inequities.   Similar study of subsequent surveys and 2001 Census might bring out a better picture, though even after the improved statistics, the pyramidal structure has not undergone any significant change in terms of reduction of inequities in any large measure.


3.6.5     The causes for educational deprivation in India have been analyzed in detail. The Indian Social Institute, in a program of research on schooling, (E.P.W of July, 1998) identified three obstacles against universal elementary education. They are -


·         Inadequate parental motivation,

·         Poverty (resulting in the shaping of parental motivation in favour of education of their male offspring, thus implanting gender inequality in the formative years of life) and

·         Low quality of schooling.


The author concludes: “Therefore, there does appear to exist (more and more) a case for compulsory education, provided that (1) it is understood to include compulsion on the state to provide adequate schooling facilities; and (2) top-down measures which concentrate on punitive action against parents, are avoided.”


3.6.6     The review of the Government’s efforts in the direction of universalization of elementary education through school system, shows up both its gains and shortcomings.  Gains lay in the direction of quantitative expansion, and shortcomings have been in the direction of quality and equity as between different sections of the populace.  But the biggest shortcoming has been as the educationist J.P.Naik put it: “it was a wrong policy that we did not place adequate emphasis on direct programs of adult education to liquidate mass illiteracy”.   A review of the educational scene cannot therefore be complete without reviewing the progress on this front.



Adult Education – Historical background and review of achievements.


3.7        Eradication of illiteracy has been one of the major national concerns of the Government of India since independence. During the first Five Year Plan, the program of Social Education, inclusive of literacy, was introduced as part of the Community Development Program (1952).


3.7.1     Efforts of varied types were made by the States for the spread of literacy. Among these, the Gram Shikshan Mohim initiated in Satara District of Maharashtra in 1959 was one of the successful mass campaigns. It aimed at completing literacy work village-by-village within a short period of 3 to 6 months, through the honorary services of primary teachers and middle-school and high school students, supported by the entire community. It achieved a good deal of success but suffered from the lack of follow-up due to financial constraints and some of its good work was lost as a consequence. In spite of these varied initiatives the program of adult literacy did not make much headway.

3.7.2     The topic was dealt at length by the Kothari Commission (1964-66) which emphasized the importance of spreading literacy as fast as possible. The Commission also observed that "literacy if it is to be worthwhile, must be functional".  It suggested the following measures:


·         Expansion of universal schooling of five-year duration for the age group 6 - 11.

·         Provision of part-time education for those children of age group 11 - 14 who had either missed schooling or dropped out of school prematurely.

·         Provision of part-time general and vocational education to the younger adults of age group 15 – 30.

·         Use of mass media as a powerful tool of environment building for literacy.

·         Setting up of libraries.

·         Need for follow up program.

·         Active role of universities and voluntary organisation at the State and district levels.


3.7.3     The National Policy on Education in 1968 not only endorsed the recommendations of the Education Commission but also reiterated the significance of universal literacy and developing adult and continuing education as matters of priority. While the formal elementary education program was supplemented by a Non-formal Education system, it was also decided to undertake Adult Literacy programs culminating in the Total Literacy mission approach.


3.7.4     A multi-pronged approach of universalization of elementary education and universal adult literacy has been adopted for achieving total literacy. The National Policy on Education (1986) has given an unqualified priority to the following three programs for eradication of illiteracy, particularly among women:-

(a)  Universalization of elementary education and universal retention of children upto 14 years of age.

(b) A systematic program of non-formal education in the educationally backward states.

(c)  The National Literacy Mission which aims at making 100 million adults literate by 1997.


The major thrust of these programs is on promotion of literacy among women, members belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes particularly in the rural areas.


3.7.5     The Adult Education Program consists of three components: basic literacy (including numeracy), functionality and civic awareness. The program covers different schemes so that finally it aims at helping learners achieve a ‘reasonable degree of self-reliance in literacy and functionality and better appreciation of the scope and value of science.  The list of the various projects may be seen at Appendix II.


3.7.6     Of course, even before Independence, there were adult education programs.  Mahatma Gandhi had education as one of his constructive programs, and as a mass campaign had through his movement, tried to make districts completely literate.  Some success was also achieved.  For instance Surat District, in erstwhile Bombay Presidency had been totally literate, but again relapsed into illiteracy for lack of follow-up.  There were efforts at spreading by the Baroda Rulers, supplemented by a live library movement.  Here again lack of follow-up and sustained efforts caused a relapse into illiteracy among the vulnerable sections.  There were voluntary agencies working in the field.  Some agencies as the Karnataka Adult Education Council, Gujarat Social Education Committee and Bombay City Social Education Committee has had large programs extending to the whole state or a metropolitan city.   Literacy House of Lucknow did commendable work in this field.  It came into existence in 1953 when its founder, Mrs. Welthy H. Fisher established it in small verandah at Allahabad, with a view to eradicate illiteracy and promote education in India. It was shifted to Lucknow in 1956.


3.7.7     The University Grants Commission, at its meeting held in 5th May 1971, considered the general pattern of development and assistance towards adult education in the university and agreed that “assistance to universities for program of adult education be made on a sharing basis of 75:25 and that the Commission’s assistance to university would not exceed Rs. 3 lakhs for the Fourth Plan period.”  Departments of Continuing Education took up the work of  “University goes to Masses”.  The slogan “Each One, Teach One” caught the imagination of not only the students, but also a large number of educated individuals, and it looked like these programs will meet a major success. However, like most enthusiastically launched programs, they also fell by the wayside. A Farmers Training and Functional literacy project was launched in 1968-69, coordinating the activities of Ministries of Education, Agriculture and Information & Broadcasting. The Central Advisory Board of Education in its November 1975 meeting asked that the exclusive emphasis on formal system of education should be given up and a large element of non-formal education should be introduced within the system.  


3.7.8     In one sense, though the Non-formal education system was launched with its own set of objectives, the main purpose was to tackle the problem of dropouts from the formal system.  The dropout from the formal system continues to hover around 50% and have not shown any great variation in the last four decades (Dropout rate ranging in Grades I-IV from 64.0 in 1960-61, to 67 in 70-71, to 58.7 in 1980-81 to 44.3 in 1990-91.  The dropout rate in Grades V-VIII ranged from 74.3 to 63.4 during these decades). It is not difficult to guess the collective identities of the victims, children who fail to survive at school.  They are children of landless agricultural labourers and subsistence peasants.  Caste-wise, a substantial proportion of them belongs to the Scheduled Castes that have been granted special rights including reservation in higher education and representative bodies, in the Constitution.  The situation of children belonging to many of the Scheduled Tribes is worse, especially in the central Indian belt. Forest-dwelling tribal communities have had to bear the brunt of State initiatives in dam construction, development of tourism with the help of game sanctuaries and mining.  Apart from such destabilizing experiences, bias against tribal cultures and languages also makes the school curriculum and the teacher a deterrent for the advancement of tribal education. There are about 40 million rural artisans in India. For them, the current standard school curriculum is trivial, and in a sense irrelevant and demeaning. No wonder, one realizes in a rather simple, unscientific way, these children stop coming to school early.  Finally, the child residing in a slum, living in conditions of uncertainly and violence is always a likely case of early withdrawal or elimination.


3.7.9     In keeping with recent trends in the international literacy movement, the emphasis of mass literacy programs in India shifted from ‘literacy’ to ‘adult education’ through the intermediate phases of ‘functional literacy’ and ‘non-formal education’ during the last fifty years. The Policy Statement of the present program highlights the development of functional competencies and awareness of the adult learners as two of the three equally important components of the National Adult Education Program (1978).  The third component is obviously literacy. Our Universities had also been roped into this activity.


3.7.10  The National Adult Education Program (NAEP) was inaugurated on October 2, 1978.  In a statement in the Parliament on April 5, 1977, the Union Education Minister declared that “along with universalization of elementary education, highest priority in educational planning would be accorded to adult education.”  The objective of the NAEP is “to organise adult education programs, with literacy as an indispensable component, for approximately 100 million illiterate persons in the age-group 15-35 with a view to providing them with skills for self-directed learning leading to self-reliant and active role in their own development and in the development of their environment.”  In concrete terms, three R’s, social awareness and functionality are the three basic components of the NAEP.   In spite of careful planning before the launch of this program (it had envisaged a phased program), the Sardar Patel Institute of Social and Economic Research, after a survey carried out in the initial flush of enthusiasm, observed about the progress of the program in a progressive state like Gujarat: “On the whole, while the NAEP in Gujarat was generally found to be addressed to the target groups kept in view under the NAEP and it was found to have some other commendable aspects, all things considered, its achievement in terms of spread of literacy is rather modest, and more so in terms of social awareness and functionality”.  The report had gone on to say: “The more crucial aspects like the content of education, pedagogy, etc. can be probed into only if longer time is available, or ideally, on an ongoing basis.  It is these aspects which have contributed most to the continuing stagnation of even the spread of literacy in the country.  This study is not sufficient to indicate whether breakthrough in these areas is being made, and whether the adult education program is assuming the character of a Mass Movement as would be desirable and is clearly the intent of NAEP” (1979). 


3.7.11  Then came the National Literacy Mission (NLM).  For a short while during the era of the high profile technology missions, some attention was given to issues like immunization, safe drinking water and literacy along with talk of people’s participation and social audit of these programs. In 1989, the district-based Total Literacy Campaigns (TLC) emerged as a program strategy for the National Literacy Mission against this background. While it was correctly envisaged that the initial social mobilization for a time-bound campaign provides the inspiration to spark for a mass participation of people, volunteering their time and energy for a cause like literacy, the follow-up program was not worked out clearly.  However, admitting and recognizing the many flaws and failures of the ‘campaign approach’, even as early as1994, NLM continued with the same TLC strategy and tried to bolster it with better monitoring, internal evaluation and presently with a revival effort through what is called ‘Operation Restoration’.  Reviewing the functioning of these programs, Avik Ghosh concludes: “The present focus of NLM on literacy has to shift, and similarly the mission-mode-time-bound thrust of NLM should give way to a more durable and sustained program of adult education that responds to the needs of adults as individuals and also as members of the disadvantaged groups”.   The Total Literacy Campaigns, initially at least, helped in fostering a participatory approach in dealing with this issue, though here again, the problem of sustaining the momentum has remained. In the budget for 1999-2000, allocation for the Rural Functional Literacy Project does not find a special mention. The overall allocation to adult education has, however, been increased by about 40%.


3.7.12  Unless it be in the context of revolutionary social transformation, the lack of spectacular success in a program like Adult Education and of sustaining its momentum is understandable.  It is after all a far distant cousin in terms of financial outlays to the formal system (In the budget of 1999-2000, the total allocation of resources (both Plan and non-plan) for the four programs of Elementary Education, Operation Black board, Non-formal education and Adult Education was respectively, 3037, 400, 350 and 113.4 crores respectively).  Further, there is the very real problem of pedagogy.  For instance, as Prof. Jalaluddin (1986) says: “While 1652 mother tongues have been identified in the recent censuses in India, only 15 major literary languages have been accorded political status under the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.  Then there is the problem of script.  In the context of a nationwide adult literacy and education program, the question of the acquisition of more than one writing system or even script by linguistic minorities becomes an important area of language planning.  The term biliteracy is used in this context in India.”  Further in countries like India which have a long tradition of transmission of ideas and wisdom orally, such individual and societal transformations through a mass literacy campaign, are rather a form of renewal in nature than being additive or extensive”.  There is also the problem continued sustenance of the campaign approach. There are some hopeful signs of ICT-supported services being used to bridge the gulf. Some collaborative partnership of the Government of India and non-governmental agencies in partnership with International Organizations and private sector has been mooted and the results of such collaborative efforts may perhaps show a way.


3.7.13  And yet, the importance of this component cannot be gainsaid.  “In our country, numerous persons enter adulthood without proper education and consequently their self-confidence is shaky.  In a fast-changing environment of economic and cultural change, they will continue to be edged out unless their capacities are actively consolidated and improved so as to encounter the world outside on equal terms”.  This program can be in the nature of a Sunset program (referred to later in this Paper); but till then, i.e. literacy becomes self-sustaining fact with self-arising demand for its very usefulness and need for a fuller life, no Government should be allowed to ignore this aspect.



Need for community support to supplement Government effort.


3.8        It is perhaps wise to reminisce on the  “Education For All” document which says:


“It will be against the spirit of the Constitution to allow elementary education to suffer from inadequacy of resources.  As far as funding elementary education and literacy programs is concerned, it should be viewed in the framework of the Constitution.  It is not just the Department of Education, but all the government departments, which should be made to allocate substantial resources for elementary education, as no sector can develop significantly with illiterate masses.  In fact, the whole nation should feel responsible for the development of education in the country.”


In the system of central planning we are used to in this country, only the resources required from the government or public sector agencies are taken into account.  However, for an activity like education, there are considerable costs borne by the children and parents.  These costs are not included in the financial implications presented, except for the provision of incentives like books and uniforms to the weaker sections.  The Constitution has directed that education for children in primary and upper primary levels of education should be free.  This has been so far taken in practice, to mean that schools should not charge any fees.  The cost incurred by parents for education of their children has been ignored and has not been considered as a violation of the directive of free education.  In view of the paucity of resources, it may be pragmatic to continue this approach and let the parents bear costs of this nature, while underscoring that ideally these costs should be borne by public funds.


3.8.1     We may also have to move from the concept of exclusive responsibility of the government for education to shared responsibility between the government and the community.  This would not be difficult, keeping in view the tradition in India of community support to education from ancient times.  This will be also consistent with the general approach of decentralization, community involvement and people’s participation. For safeguarding democracy and strengthening the foundations of the integrated nation, it is necessary not to compromise with the requirements of these basic needs in education.  It should be noted that without adequate resources, financial, physical and human, our target of Education For All will remain unachieved even by the turn of the century.  If we have to enter the twenty-first century without the burden of the unfulfilled goals originally proposed by the Constitution makers of India, substantial resources should be allocated to elementary and adult education programs.








4.         The emerging trends are discussed in this Chapter.  The need to go into a learning mode as also conditions for creating capabilities in the education system to meet the needs of knowledge growth, communication expansion, reinforcement of cultural roots is indicated.  Changing needs of Educational Technology and entry of computers and Integration of Information and Communication Technology demand new structures, which the system should be able to assimilate.  Renewal of education also calls for provision for regular reviews, which reckons also changing scenarios and developments in emerging technologies.


4.1        In a UNESCO publication, “Education in Asia and the Pacific”, Raja Roy Singh has rightly written:


“The dynamics of education and its role in each society in development and transformation make it essential that education continuously renews itself in order to prepare for a future rather than for obsolescence.  This renewal process derives from a variety of sources which include: the growth of human knowledge, which is the basic component of education; the heritage of collective experience and values which education transmits to the new generations; the means and methods of communication by which knowledge and values are transmitted and the new values and aspirations which the human spirit adds to the collective experience and wisdom of the past or by which the heritage of the past is reinterpreted and reassessed.”



Change from teaching to learning process


4.2        The books Learning to Be (UNESCO 1972) and The Learning Society (Hutchins, 1962) are pointers to the future directions that educational process will have to take.  Now learning process is replacing the teaching process.  Nobody teaches any one, but men learn from each other.  In other words, all are learners. The aim of education is not to fit people into a system but to help them develop their human powers. (Hutchins 1968). The new developments in the field of learning have been due to the significant and path-breaking contributions by many scientists: Rogers (1969) by emphasizing the importance of nurturing self-direction and fulfillment; Bruner (1966) by stressing the importance of autonomy, self-reward and discovery as the main way of learning; and Friere (1972) by his emphasis on conscientization as the main goal of education. The shift in emphasis can be seen from coping behavior to expressive behavior (using the terminology by Bruner) or from prescriptive behavior to liberating behavior (using the terminology by Friere) or from direct influence to indirect influence using the concept developed by Flanders (1970)



4.2.1     Three distinct global developments that may affect future of education are:


1.       Knowledge Growth. The speed with which the growth of knowledge is now taking place, its range and sweep, are epitomized in the expansion of knowledge in science and technology.  It is estimated that in the period 600 BC to AD 1700, the body of scientific knowledge doubled every 1000 years; from the beginning of industrialization until the early twentieth century, the doubling period accelerated to about 200 years; and now in many scientific fields, knowledge is doubling every 15 years or so. Moreover, the lag between a discovery in a fundamental science and its technological application has narrowed remarkably.  This enormous growth in the volume and application of knowledge impacts on every aspect of modern life.  Parallel to the rapid growth of knowledge is the increasing velocity with which knowledge is being circulated.  New configurations in the fields of knowledge are emerging and are tending to efface to some extent at least, the old established demarcation lines between the natural sciences and the social and human sciences.  Cross over points are emerging between the major fields of human activity. Another direction of advance is the aggregation of different components of traditional disciplines into new integrated fields.  The most practical conclusion that we draw on education planning is, therefore, that the options open to learners in regard to fields of study should not be closed too early.


2.       Education and Communication. In perhaps no other fields has there been such a profound revolution as in communications and informatics. The communication technologies have multiplied and became more and more powerful.  The development in computer technology will soon affect every individual. Telecommunications and data processing have already increased dramatically the volume of information readily available as well as its accessibility.  Integration of information and communication technologies is a new challenge before the educational administrators. This calls for -


·         a need for research and development in the information and communication technology;


·         creation of scientific and technological capacity to crucially use these technologies which represent a power of unlimited possibilities;


·         discrimination and selectivity arising from information overload.  There is also an increasing danger of the deliberate manipulation of information such that the models of reality that people learn from the media are either incomplete or distorted. In curriculum development, that which is omitted may be as important as that which is included.


3.       Education and culture. The other source of educational renewal is the cultural heritage reflected in the whole range of expressions, which give meaning and worth to the society’s being.  The need for a reaffirmation of cultural identity is more urgent today because of the tendency towards uniformity and homogeneity generated by economic and material forces and the mass media.  Next only to the family, the school is the most important institution for the transmission of cultural values. Role of education, an indispensable role, is to be a medium in which the various new influences are assimilated in the cultural stream.  Education has a vital role in promoting the processes by which scientific and technological knowledge is assimilated in the fabric of national life without detriment to the people’s values.  There is a ‘cultural’ dimension in every subject taught in the schools. This needs to be brought out in the methods of instruction.


4.2.2     The tools and techniques available for pedagogy and androgogy are also undergoing a major change. Educational Technology is the new addition to the armamentarium of pedagogy in the future.  The phrase ‘Educational Technology’ was defined by the National Council of Educational Technology (UK) as the development, application, evaluation of systems, techniques and aids to improve the process of human learning.  It has a wider connotation than simply the use of electromechanical and other aids in teaching.  It places as much stress on educational ideas as on educational inventions.  It can only be of value if it is really integrated into the entire system.  There are two approaches – hardware and software - in educational technology. The hardware approach is based on the application of engineering principles for developing electromechanical equipment like motion pictures, tape recorders, teaching machines, computers, videotape, closed circuit television, etc. The second approach, i.e. software approach uses the principle of psychology for behavior modification purposes.  There are two trends or directions of educational technology: towards mass instructional technology and towards technology designed for individual instruction.  Mass transmission technology capable of making educational messages is available to millions of children and adults.  Television is the most obvious example of mass instructional technology.  Teaching machines are examples of individual instructional technology.



Distance learning


4.3        Distance learning, an aspect of use of Educational Technology, can thus transform traditional learning.  Learning at one’s own pace and at his convenience will get stressed. Attending formal classroom instruction puts severe stress both on the learner and the Society. The former has to schedule his activities in the structured requirements of a formal classroom, which for a person already working may be difficult. The latter has to grapple with difficult-to-find resources to provide for the escalating costs of education. Distance education overcomes these hurdles.  Use of satellites is rapidly changing the concept of conventional education.  Students need no longer be limited by lack of access, shortage of teachers or interference from work.





4.4        Entry of computers in the Educational Field can be stated to have caused a paradigm shift in the field of technology so much so that we cannot afford to be left out of computer literacy in any future plans for education. With computers, the technological revolution can be stated to have come into the classroom. Technology is an enabling tool. It facilitates the process of writing so that students and teachers alike can interact with the text in useful ways that are difficult with paper and pencil. Experience at MS Swaminathan Research Foundation as well as in many villages in Pondicherry and Madhya Pradesh have demonstrated that a high level of formal education is not necessary to gain operational computer literacy, and as a functional education tool, it is valuable.







Computers across the Curriculum


The term ‘Computer literacy’ covers aspects both of learning about the computers and of learning with, from and through the computers. It involves consideration of the application of the computers in the educational settings and the society at large. The Computer is a general-purpose tool and can be effectively used in a large number of activities in the teaching-learning process. Some of the common programs are:


1.       Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI):  In this mode, the Computer acts as a teacher teaching new skills or concepts or providing practice for learners.

2.       Computer Based Learning (CBL) or Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) which could be assisted for a variety of purposes such as Simulations and Modeling, Instructional Games, Information Handling, Demonstrations, etc.

3.       Computer Managed Learning (CML) where the Computer serves as a tool to help in the management of student learning.


The changing methods of storing information now mean that computer literacy becomes a fundamental component of literacy itself. Commonly included in the objectives of computer literacy are:


(a)  An awareness of Information Technology and how it affects day-to-day living.

(b) An understanding about the importance of information to aid decision-making processes.

(c)  An understanding of Man: Machine interaction so that the tool can be used effectively.



Integration of Information and Communication Technologies


4.5        Integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) with school needs serious consideration.  Teachers, educators, curriculum developers, evaluators and others will have to redefine their roles to tackle ICT rich environment and harness its full potential for the benefit of learners. Information media are bringing about dramatic changes and are facilitating the communication of information between instructor and learner.  These media have also produced a basic easing of spatio-temporal limitations and creation of new learning spaces based on information networks.   These may call for structural changes. Our politico-administrative structures should be interpreted flexibly enough not to obstruct these winds of change.



Renewal and periodic reforms:


(a)                    International experience


4.6        A reference has been made in the beginning of this section for the need for renewal process.  Updating is very essential in educational processes.  In this field, both individuals and nations have been known to slide down unless a conscious effort is taken to keep ‘awareness’ at the best pitch.  Knowledge expands and values undergo a change taking subsequent experience into account.  As the noted American analyst David Halberstam says in ‘The Next Century’: “National security was no longer an index of weaponry (essentially a missile and tank count), if it ever really was, but a broad array of factors reflecting the general state of national well being.  It included the ability of a country to house its people, to feed them, to educate them, to provide them with opportunities in keeping with their desires and education, and to instill in them trust and optimism that their lives were going to be valued and fruitful.”  According to him, though the 20th century was an American century, the next century was no more theirs.  It was possible to make 20th century an American century because of its concern for ‘humane’ values and democratization. Ensuring cultural and ethical values while at the same time adopting 3 R’s is a challenge that has to be adequately tackled.


4.6.1     Concerned with maintaining its economic and social initiatives without losing sight of the various cultural accumulations and traditions, the Japanese Government decided to adopt the following five concrete measures for educational reform: (I) the development of life-long structures; (ii) the diversification and reform of institutions of higher education; (iii) the enrichment and reform of elementary and secondary education; (iv) reforms for coping with internationalization, (v) reforms for coping with the information age and (vi) the reform of educational administration and finance. Similar studies for reforms have been undertaken in other countries too. And if Japan has been cited as an example, it is to point out the need for the reforms even in the best of circumstances.


(b)                National experience


4.6.2     For the future, in our case, of particular reference is the need to focus on the core and permanent aspects of education so that Constitutional guarantees can ensure that the most important aspects are not lost sight of.  Our Indian experience has also been spelt out in many a fora. J.P.Naik identified the causes for our failure in the field of primary education: (a) We have made no attempt to introduce those radical structural changes in the formal system of elementary education.  (b)Exclusive reliance on full-time formal education has an inherent bias in favour of classes and a built-in unsuitability for the education of the masses.  (c) There is a general view that standards in education have continually and alarmingly deteriorated in the last few years, which may be only partially true.  (d) There should be an early end to the dual system which we now run at all stages under which the classes have access to a small group of high quality elite institutions while the masses are compelled to study in public institutions of poor quality. Krishna Kumar (1998) lists three additional tendencies discernible in the current scenario in education: the first is related to the drastic reduction in the number of children who proceed beyond the primary and secondary stages; the second, the preponderance of higher education, with the culturally dominant and economically stronger sections of society using the state’s resources to consolidate their hold on the state apparatus; and third, the inherent divisiveness in the system which protects class interests.


4.6.3     Thus the causes for apparent failure of universalisation of primary education are many; the overall picture is a mixture of light and shade. Standards have definitely improved in certain sectors.  The number of good institutions and of first-rate students have considerably increased at all stages.  There has been a steady improvement in average qualifications and remuneration of teachers and some improvements in curricula and teaching material. But there has also been an immense increase in such negative factors as the rapid increase in sub-standard institutions, deterioration in facilities and conditions of work and service in large number of schools and colleges, of the breakdown of the examination system through large-scale practice of unfair means. The list can be enlarged to cover different aspects. To maintain social cohesion, is an aim of education as also the purpose of our Constitution.  Hence also the need for vigil on this front.








5.         In this Chapter, a possible Model for achieving the goals of universisalization of literacy and primary education in the country is suggested, where the main theme is decentralization and development of a Systems Model to facilitate mobility and life-long learning and education.


Our goals and targets


5.1        It has already been mentioned that the constitutional goal of universalization of elementary education directed in Article 45 has long since expired.  In the approach paper to the Tenth Plan, the non-achievement in this field has been accepted, and the revised target year to achieve universal access to primary education has been pushed to 2007. Similarly, the targets for progress in literacy has now been fixed at 72% by 2007 and 80% by 2012.   In view of the progress already achieved, these targets are not unrealistic.  Nevertheless there is need for readiness to accept modifications and changes and even new structures to achieve the goal, instead of merely relying on the existing scheme of things, alone.  Fresh initiatives will be necessary.  As far back as 1966, the Second Education Commission observed: “It is no longer desirable to undertake educational reforms in piecemeal fashion, without a concept of the totality of the goals and modes of the educational process.  To find out how to reshape its component parts, one must have a vision of the future. This search for practical alternatives are parts of a genuine strategy of innovation seems to us to be one of the primary tasks of any educational undertaking.”.


5.1.1     In one sense, it is true that the education system has undergone many types of changes and experiments.  Many a new thought and idea has been tried out and implemented at some point of time and in some part of the country. The various Departments of Education of the Universities all over the country have been deliberating over the various facets of the problem and the treatises submitted for the M.Ed. and Ph.D courses are a veritable storehouse of ideas.  Then, there are the various Centres of Advanced Studies which can distill the various ideas and have also been rendering advisory services. The number of enquiry commissions, whether it be the Royal Commissions, or Commissions appointed thereafter headed by Indians of eminence, are not insignificant.  As instances of the latter, the reports of the Radhakrishnan Commission or the Kothari Commission have been truly incisive and have been given due consideration and even acceptance. Gunnar Myrdal said it all when he wrote: “In India, in particular, there has been much honest and penetrating discussion of the problems, though little action.  The excellent Report of the Education Commission, 1966, is outspoken; the educational system ‘is tending to widen the gulf between the classes and the masses.’ The Commission’s observation: ‘Indian education needs a drastic reconstruction, almost a revolution.. This calls for determined and large scale action. Tinkering with the existing situation, and moving forward with faltering steps and lack of faith can make things worse than before’ is quite relevant in this context.


Purpose of Education – some views


5.2        True enough, education is a ‘vast, shapeless and vexatious subject’.  In a country of continental proportions, with its different communities and people with different socio-economic backgrounds, and literally living in different centuries in terms of thought, the aims of education can be at variance with the thoughts of experts in the field. And even among the latter, there are different perceptions.  A few quotes from some of the Experts are interesting.


“One reason for the ‘chaos’ in education is the burgeoning of new opportunities and aspirations for hundreds of millions who had so long been denied all education and were living at a level of tragic deprivation. Education is the key to help us in the transition process to the Age of Science and Ahimsa, and therefore, education, which does not value and promote excellence is, in the end, ‘a waste of effort and resources’. To support excellence is not to oppose the concept of equality of opportunity.” (Dr. D.S. Kothari)


“The theory of education is summed up in its being able to instill in a person “knowledge, skill, equipoise, understanding and gentleness, as these values are connected with the faculties of man and his soul”. (Dr. V.K.Gokak)


“The basic issues are: how education can meet the variability of man, how it can design education to aid evolution rather than retard it.  How does education discover what a child is good at and encourage it?  How can children develop sensitivity to others and to their environment?  How early do we begin language education?  How do we weave manual skills and linguistic skills so as to develop proper attitudes to science and technology, not merely to glorify science but to make it understandable to children and adolescents, to convey  to them both the positive and negative aspects of technology and science.” “We keep on forgetting simple things: it is easier to learn a language at the age of four rather than at forty; it is happier for children to work together than against each other; it is wiser that children are given opportunities on occasions to find out for themselves what they like and what they are good at than to prematurely ‘guide’ them into narrow grooves.  As to ‘what they like’ and ‘what they are good at’, it is important to remember that the two are not synonymous and we can be misled.  A child, too, can mislead himself or herself, because of the visible as well as indirect power of suggestion of family, friends and school teachers.  Another forgotten element or rather often disregarded aspect is the need to acquire technical or manual skills, not from a Thoreausque moral point of view but from a basic anthropological understanding of the connection that exist between the movements of the fingers, particularly the opposable thumb and the association centres of the brain.  We often work so that we can think.”  (Dr. B.D. Nag Chaudhri)


“The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done- men, who are creative, inventive and discoverers.  The second goal of education is to form minds, which can be critical, can verify, and not accept everything they are offered.  The great danger today is of slogans, collective opinions, and ready-made trends of thought.  We have to be able to resist individually, to criticize, to distinguish between what is proven and what is not”. (Jean Piaget)



Some experiences in the past


5.3        There is a need for a core curriculum to bring nearly all pupils above a certain threshold of learning, for thereafter all subsequent learning is made easier.  But then, there is also the concern for democratization of primary education.  As a UNESCO publication puts it: “A primary school that fails to achieve certain minimum and useful objectives, that fails to meet the people’s needs, that fails to interest either the children or their parents, will inevitably end up by losing in one way or the other”.


In efforts to bring in certain integration, even well-planned curriculum contents have to be toned down.  In Gujarat, for instance, after the introduction of the new education policy after the acceptance of the Kothari Commission Report, because of the end-of-term certificate or diploma, the final examination content had to be toned down and alternative subjects had to be offered. Instead of New Mathematics, Commercial Arithmetic and instead of New Science, Everyday needs of health and hygiene, were allowed.  In that very State a battle royal was waged on the introduction of English at the V Standard or VIII Standard.  The battle was both political and legal.  Then there is the different perception of what the ‘average’ rural lad or lass needs.  We have thus in both Gujarat and Maharashtra, parallel streams of the normal school system and the basic and post-basic schools.  At the secondary the plethora of examination bodies in addition to the different State Secondary Examination Boards is part of the same malady of what is perceived as the purpose of education.  Even the medium of instruction whether it should be mother tongue only at the primary education level has been a matter of many an academic and legal disputes. 


5.3.1     In such an environment, innovative experiments could be inhibited because of the competing and variant expectations.  At the same time, what it portends is the fact that in our country, there could perhaps be no one solution. In a multilingual and multicultural environment where the people also live in varying socio-economic background and in different centuries even in the realm of thinking patterns, one pattern is certainly not the answer. The problems of universalisation of education are also even otherwise real.


Some causes of concern


5.4        In the special issue of the International Yearbook of Education on “Primary Education on the threshold of the twenty-first century” (International Bureau of Education, UNESCO, Geneva, 1986), Ramamoorthi identified the following as the main problems, difficulties and obstacles to the universalisation of primary education in most of the developing countries:


1.       A lack of financial resources coupled with the escalating cost of education.

2.       A high rate of population growth in relation to the available limited resources

3.       Deteriorating and inadequate physical facilities for education, such as an inadequate number of school buildings, essential scholastic and other educational materials

4.       An inadequate supply of trained teachers, 

5.       Inhibitory cultural attitudes in these countries’ communities, particularly bias against the education of girls and the physically and mentally handicapped. It should be pointed out that economic constraints tend to entrench these inhibitory attitudes.

6.       High drop-out rates in primary schools

7.       Unattractive terms of service for teachers.


5.4.1     Thanks to sustained efforts taken by Government of India both in the field of education and Family Welfare, the problems are no more insurmountable, as can be seen from the positive trends in the Census and Educational Survey reports. While the problems of resources will continue to plague us, the problem of community involvement has to be more constructively thought out. Centralized governments and administrations will have to move towards a pronounced form of decentralization of primary education.


5.4.2     As stated earlier, there have been innovations and changes made in the system.  Instances are many where the State Government have handed over Government Schools to private education trusts for management along with required funds.  In Maharashtra and Gujarat, many a Sarvajanik Sikshan Society has come up to take up such responsibility. Similarly there have been technical schools and participating schools also.  Why these efforts did not yield expected results is a matter of study.  However, the fact that an experiment failed at one point of time or at a particular surrounding, may not be a bar to try it again at another point of time or place.  While it is true that what is right in theory may always be right in practice, it is definitely true that what is wrong in theory can never be right in practice.  Within that parameter, experimentation will have to go on and decentralization is a key to this process of experimentation.


5.4.3     The comments expressed by Dr. Adiseshiah are relevant:


“First, we need to commit ourselves whole-heartedly to the principle of decentralized planning as against the tradition of centralization that we have built up, and then face its implications which, inter alia, include questions of (1) whether block-level educational planning can be developed without all planning – agricultural, rural development, health, housing, etc. being planned at the Block level (Can there be an island of purity in an ocean of impurity?) (2) whether the poorly equipped rural school with the various rural power networks that control even this low-level educational unit is capable of planning its content, learning methods and timing’.  How can we avoid local control of education becoming another bonanza for the elite urban schools?  What does this involve in the way of strengthening the rural school infrastructure?”



Functional Literacy through Modern Information Technology


5.5.       Specially in the area of Adult Education, the concept of functional literacy has been discussed earlier. Conventional methods of education involving mastering a script, learning words and sentences, etc., that have no direct relationship to everyday life such learners, have to give place a learning that is directly relevant to them. The Education Division of the Tata Consultancy Services claims to have evolved a system where the learners are exposed to a set of words and pictures that have a direct relevance to them. A set of about 500 words or so form the vocabulary, and by repeated exposure of these words and pictures, the learners become familiar with them and learn to recognize them. This knowledge enables them to even read newspapers and magazines and activates an interest in the learner to know more.  If necessary, they can then join a formal education program. Video projections and large computer screens aid such learning process.



A Systems Model proposed


5.6        Can the present model with its structured hierarchy of time-dependant learning levels, single point entry, isolation from society and the marketplace, outdated learning content, irrelevant evaluation techniques and class-biased survival be replaced or at least be supplemented by a Systems Model?  The latter model will need the following action steps:


1.       Launching the non-formal education sub-system for the two priority groups- school drop-outs in the age group 6-14 years, and working adult illiterates in the age group 15-40 years, involving devising functional curricula, producing learning materials, mobilizing teaching resources from trained teachers as well as progressive farmers, engineers, musicians, dramatists and sportsmen, and using existing buildings, laboratories and workshops for running the concentrated courses. 

2.       Reorganizing the existing formal education sub-system into multiple-entry and exit points at its different levels, so that students could enter, leave and reenter the school and university system at any one of several points to answer the call of work in the home, farm, factory or office, continue their education through organized non-formal programs and reenter the school or university at appropriate points when they so desire in order to acquire further learning skills.  The launching of the non-formal education system and the reorganization of the formal system will help the system serve the majority now excluded.

3.       Establishing the relationship between the two sub-systems involving crossover points and the feed-in and feed-out provisions and the nexus between their educational content, methods and technologies of teaching and learning.

4.       Vocationalizing the second level through a system of diversified learning experiences in higher secondary schools and technical schools so that such work-based education is freely available to all up to the age of 15 or 16 years in school and out of school and becomes the constructive skill forming a terminal point for 80 per cent of the full-time students entering the school stream.



Can Educational Funding Become Participatory ?


5.7        Earlier a question has been raised whether the State should be the only funding agency for promoting literacy and education programs. NGOs and Corporate Institutions should be encouraged to take interest in such programs. Most of the NGOs are, however, dependent only on government funding for their activities, and funding them for this activity will be only an indirect government support. With large business houses expressing interest in Welfare measures, at least in the geographical regions in which they operate, they can be encouraged to contribute to such causes. Local Institutions like Panchayats and Gram Sabhas should also be encouaged to take interest in these activities by impressing on them the fact that an educational community is innovative, peace-loving and involved in community affairs.


Such experimentation will have to continue and hence the need for flexibility, periodic review and autonomy and the host of other institutional safeguards spelt out in the concluding sections.






6.         In this Chapter, some issues arising from the foregoing discussions, which should find a way as constitutional or legal provisions into our educational structures, are discussed.  The need for consensus, application of sunset laws to avoid obsolescence, special considerations and structures because of the altruistic nature of the pursuit etc are some of the directions indicated.



Universalization of Education: Need for Consensus


6.1        Fortunately for us, there is a general consensus about universalization of elementary education as our credo.  This issue has to be beyond politics – in fact, the whole basis for access to educational opportunities at all levels has to be a non-party matter and discussion of its aspects should be beyond party politics an cut across party lines. All major political parties have put it high on their agenda. It is also a positive factor that successive governments have expressed their priority for education.  This has now been made an important component of National Human Development Initiative (NHDI) and also the Prime Minister’s Special Action Plan. In a situation when the need for strong political commitment is being increasingly felt, these proclaimed intentions of the government are certainly welcome, and help to keep the momentum alive.


6.1.1     When education has had a strong and consistent political commitment in the State, the tangible achievements it can mark, is indeed remarkable.  As far back as 1819, the ruler of Travancore in south Kerala called for the State to meet the cost of education.  Facilities were provided for everyone to have access to education either free or at a small nominal cost. The State continued to make progress and Universal Literacy was achieved in 1991.  The State continues to top the literacy chart even in the Census 2001. The case is cited to indicate the importance of enlightened leadership with progressive views to achieve goals.



Educational Opportunity as a Fundamental Right


6.2        Education is a value in itself and is the bedrock on which any edifice of equality of opportunity can be erected. It opens the road to progress and literacy is a measure of human development.  It is easier to plan for sound economic development and a stable political system in an educated society.  There is, therefore, every reason to canvass for Right to Education being incorporated as a Fundamental Right.




Learning process is complex and demanding


6.3        The learning process is not only complex but also demanding. Aldous Huxley wrote,


There is no substitute for correct knowledge, and in the process of acquiring that knowledge there is no substitute for concentration and prolonged practice.  Except for the unusually gifted, learning must ever be hard work. Unfortunately there are many professional educationists who seem to think that children should never be required to work hard. Whenever educational methods are based on this assumption, children will not in fact acquire much knowledge; and if the methods are followed for a generation or two, the society, which tolerates them, will find itself in full decline. We are human because, at a very early stage in the history of our species, our ancestors discovered a way of preserving and disseminating the results of experience”.


Cicero told the unvarnished truth in saying that “those who have no knowledge of what has gone before them must, for ever, remain children”.  There is no denying the fact that the histories of our developments in many fields have to be properly projected. But this should not take away the requirements of discipline involved in the learning process. What is required is ensuring irreversibility and giving a sense of perspective by not distorting history. Planning the contents of curriculum for the young mind that gets easily swayed by ‘what is taught’ rather than ‘what is desirable to teach”, is probably more difficult. The commitment of the various political parties on universalization of elementary education must also converge into a consensus on content and dissemination.



Application of Sunset laws


6.4        Sunset is one of the most refreshing and significant legislative concepts borrowed from the American history.  The idea of self-retiring government programs embodied in the concept of Sunset has generated widespread among people who have been worrying about the continued growth of government, unending expansion of bureaucracy and insufficient accountability and consequent irresponsibility in government spending. This also serves as an accountability tool. Most of the contemporary proposals for Sunset legislation encompass the principle of economy in government spending, a definite course of action to ensure adherence to that principle and an imagery of the fading away of programs that were useful in the past, but no longer useful or relevant.    Against the backdrop of parliamentary control over expenditure in India, the principle of Sunset assumes particular relevance and importance.


However, the principle of Sunset Legislation has a special significance where time targets for some activities have been prescribed.  The withdrawal from the statute books of laws and provisions, which have become obsolete or have acquired the nature of anachronisms, is equally important. A proper sunset legislation will certainly supply the action forcing mechanism to compel the legislature to make an evaluation of programs and give it an unprecedented amount of power to effect changes in specific expenditure items.    The concept of sunset legislation, where the sun sets on the law after a duration has to be invoked regularly and in full awareness. Our Constitution makers had prescribed time limits for a number of provisions.  These time limits have been treated rather lightly or extended to suit the convenience of governance.  In matters of education, these sunset laws should be adhered to, and the degree of accountability to the people’s forum absolute.  Can we say as to whether this holds true for our constitutional provision or for that matter our administrative and legislative fiats in the field of education?  Does our Constitution have a provision to analyze such extension of the sunset laws through the means of a different microscope?  Is such a differential treatment called for?





6.5        Once education is considered bedrock as stated above, do we have Constitutional guarantees to ensure that the sanctity for the schemes and the financial outlay is honored?  For instance, judiciary is considered such a non-political organ, and we have Constitutional guarantees to ensure its autonomy by way of such provisions as being a charge on the Consolidated Fund, etc.  Does education merit such a consideration at some level at least?



Continuous review and periodical reforms


6.6        If renewal, reform and rethinking are fundamental to the process of education, can the Constitution ensure that these take place and are not subject to the whims and fancies, or become matters of lower priority, because it may involve ruffling of some feathers? 



Lack of ambiguity in policy formulation


6.7        Is it necessary to make certain provisions unambiguous at least in matters of education, as not to be dependent on judicial activism?  Today part of the gains in education has to be related to the widest amplitude given to Art. 21, which had to travel a full circle from the days of Gopalan to Maneka Gandhi, as pointed out in D.D. Basu’s commentaries?   One amendment has already been brought, for instance. Can we expect a Constitutional amendment to accelerate ‘the demand for accountability in the system of education, particularly from its bureaucracy?’


Flexible institutional structures.


6.8        Are the structural changes required in the field of education hampered by treating educational structures at par with industrial or commercial structures?  When profit or commercial gain is not the motive and there could be other partners in the process whose interests are to be protected, can a different yardstick be applied, which is different from the industrial or commercial enterprises which normally follows the principle of what the traffic can bear, when structural changes are necessary?  Can there not be other structures specific to educational institutions to protect the interests of other stakeholders, and to ensure a certain degree of autonomy and insulation from political buffeting?


The above are some specific issues that have emerged from the foregoing discussions, answers to some of which will have to be found in the suggestions for changes indicated later.








7.         In this Chapter, seven illustrative areas are indicated with possible amendments therein. These are areas of high priority taking into consideration the arguments elaborated in the previous Chapters.


7.1        This Consultation Paper is not intended to be a treatise on educational policy or its implementation as such.  The foregoing discussion has been to aid in the search for the usefulness of the Constitutional provisions in advancing the cause of education.  There is no doubt that the interpretations given by the Supreme Court and other courts, have given a wider amplitude to the provisions as to specifically advance the cause of education, They have helped in doing away with discriminatory provisions, and also have covered wide areas as medium of instruction, etc. to ensure that the cause of education has not suffered. 


7.2        The goal of reaching education to one and all has also been served by these provisions.  Some further suggestions have been offered in this Chapter to advance the cause of education, which is a value in itself.  These suggestions are illustrative and not comprehensive.  A comprehensive list will require a wider discussion, and it is with the awareness of this shortcoming that these suggestions have been offered.


(1)     Preamble itself could be enlarged to secure to us a learning society so that the fruits of Enlightenment reach one and all without fear, favour or discrimination.  Enlarging the Preamble can give it the nature of a basic feature as not to be easily tampered with.  Acts of Philistinism such as burning of libraries, destroying ancient monuments or some other similar acts, should never occur, and if such tendencies or administrative fiats come to be passed, it should be possible to obtain mandamus against it.  In a multilingual and racial society such as ours, with a multitude of dialects, to some people or community, preservation or even enrichment of them may not appear to be worthwhile. The State has some bounden duties to preserve and guard cultures. If some efforts were forthcoming, such efforts should not be prevented.


(2)     With the vast changes taking place in the world of knowledge and communication, it might be worthwhile to incorporate a new right, as Right to Knowledge.  Its practical implication will be for the State to set up libraries or information centres accessible to one and all which will themselves be fountains of knowledge to be dipped into at will.  A model of a typical Knowledge Centre for Information Management has been developed for the Union Territory of Pondicherry.  In a collaborative project between International Literacy Institute and Indira Gandhi National Open University entitled, Bridges to the Future Initiative (BFI), there is a mention of medium-term development of Community Learning and Technology Centres (CLTC).  With the coming of a digital age, these may be the new versions of libraries-cum-community access centres.  This can serve as a model.  The Right to Knowledge is broader than the Right to Know which has already been derived from the existing Fundamental Rights


(3)     The existing Directive principle contained in Article 45 or the amended provision as contained in the 83rd Amendment Bill needs spelling out.  The free and compulsory education concept should not be whittled down on some grounds of economic liberalization.  In the arguments for education being able to pay for itself, it is forgotten that there is already a levy of education cess on the citizens, which goes to finance education.  Whether education fees to be paid by the recipient or a general education cess paid according to capacity of the citizen to bear his general responsibility for the cause of education is a better way is not considered in the argument for privatizing education.  It has been reported that the Soviet Union has gone to eliminate education as an obligation of the State (EPW May 1998); such a situation should not come so easily by in our country.  The provision of a fundamental right should not overlook the State responsibility to create demand.


(4)     In the field of education, sunset laws should be in operation, so that obsolescence is at a minimum and anachronisms are removed.  Sheer inertia has continued some of the earlier practices. Reservations in admissions were initially meant for a purpose and for a specific time period; these have continued for some reason or the other. Such laws should be subject to strict reviews. As Dr. Malcolm Adiseshiah has stated: “The present model with its structured hierarchy of time-dependent learning levels, single-point entry isolation from society and marketplace and outdated learning content, irrelevant evaluation techniques and class-biased survival must be replaced by a Systems Model”.


(5)     There is a strong case for ensuring autonomy for the education budget.  Some sanctity should be attached to the core provision, and such factors as the teacher’s salaries being charge on Consolidated Fund of States could be considered.  In a study of elementary education in Gujarat, The Indian Institute of Management had made one such recommendation to protect the salaries of elementary school teachers and their budget. In fact, there is a case for a special provision in the Constitution for protecting the service condition of teachers, as in the case of Civil Servants as contained in Articles 311 and 312.  There should be also a provision to ensure their political neutrality as in the case of civil servants, and the fact that most of the teachers are paid through State or through instrumentalities of State, having been funded mostly from State funds (the so-called own contribution coming from the students’ fee for which the management have no claim to call it as their own).  In Germany, all teachers are paid directly from State funds.  A similar provision for recruitment through a Public Service Commission, but differently constituted to contain peers, could also be considered.  In short, the kind of autonomy granted to judicial Institutions could be extended to teachers and teaching institutions.  Their pay and conditions of service should be separately decided, as the consideration is not what the traffic can bear. “If education is to function as a liberating force, obviously it should be independent of other kinds of organized power.  The most organized kind of power in modern societies is that of the State.  It is, therefore, of crucial importance that education be free from government control.  This does not mean that government should give money and sit back. Government has certainly a role apart from that of Santa Claus.  It has to function as an operational critic of education as of all other institutions in the society.  That is, once the norms are accepted by society by any reasonable process, government’s major responsibility should be to see that these norms are observed.”  (A.B. Shah)


(6)     There is need for a regular Education Commission like a Finance Commission, reporting to Parliament to review and update the systems.  A Constitutional Provision similar to that Finance Commission can be considered.  It is interesting to look back and note that the 1913 Government of India Policy had envisaged such a regular study. In his article ‘Towards an Education for the 21st Century’, Prem Kripal stated, “National authorities should reshape their educational system on two parallel lines: (I) internal reforms and continued improvements of existing educational systems; and (ii) search for innovative forms, for alternatives and fresh resources”.  The Education Commission had rightly remarked: “It is no longer desirable to undertake educational reforms in piecemeal fashion, without a concept of the totality of the goals and modes of the educational process.  To find out how to reshape its component parts, one must have a vision of the whole. We must think clearly in exploring new paths for the future. This  search for practical alternatives aspects of a genuine strategy of innovation seems to us to be one of the primary tasks of any educational undertaking”


(7)     There is need to insulate the educational bodies from needless litigation, when structural changes become necessary.  There is already a legislation to distinguish the teaching staff from ‘industrial labour’, though the amended legislation has not yet been put into effect.  The needs of the times and the international pace, call for flexibility in structures, which should not be hampered because of misplaced importance claimed by interests of a section of the stakeholders.   Different nature of rules of association should be recognized so that teachers’ unions do not function like other labour unions with their right to strike.


7.3        Suitable provisions can be made in the Preamble as well as in Parts III, IV, XII and XIV of the Constitution or even as fresh parts therein.


These suggestions for amendments have been made, as these are areas considered of immense importance to preserve the integrity of educational policies.








A. Issues of General Policy


The capacity of a person to contribute to societal development is made possible and enhanced by his or her development as individual.  In this light, education is a basic need.  It is also a means by which other needs, both collective and individual, are realized. Thus education is the instrument by which the skills and productive capacities are developed and endowed.  Essentially it is argued that a strong case can be made for state intervention in education on two counts, namely, the externality effects of education and the alleged incompetence or ignorance of parents.  Advocates of state education in the past have rested their case predominantly on economic considerations of equality of opportunity and social cohesion.


1.                 Do you share the view that ideally, the State should provide for education?








2.                 Do you agree that in any case, primary education should be compulsory and free? 








3.                 Do you also agree that if it is an item of priority, a state can progressively enlarge the areas of free education, e.g. free education for girls at all stages of education?








4.                 Would you agree that instead of charging fees for individual students, a general education cess on all is a more equitable form of financing education?       








5.                 (a) Do you agree that there could be compulsion from the State in this field?








(b)     If so, what should be the nature of penalties? 







(Not more than 200 words)


(c)     Should it extend to denial of vote without a minimum certificate of learning?








B.         One of the main problems in the area of education was identified as lack of financial resources coupled with escalating cost of education.  In the document “Education for All”, it has been stated that “In fact, the whole nation should feel responsible for the development of education in the country.”


6.                 In view of the above, what are the ways, in your opinion, the larger community can assume this responsibility?  






(Not more than 200 words)


7.                 Do you think some of the NGOs and Public Service Organizations are serving this purpose well?








8.                 What is your perception of the role of the private sector in the field of education?  






(Not more than 200 words)

9.                 What are the areas of responsibility in which they should be involved?

(i)                   Providing additional finds                                                

(ii)                 Providing administrative expertise, and

(iii)                Take over responsibility in particular aspects.

(iv)                All the above















10.             Can there be a sort of joint sector to manage education, pluralist in nature, where different interests are represented?








C. Constitutional Provisions


Judicial interpretation has brought alive many an Article of the Constitution, which, if read literally, may seem to be a colorless Article.  For instance, judicial interpretation has been sought on the different facets of the principle of equality of opportunity.  Our Courts have wrestled with this problem in the face of affirmative action or what is known as ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of the deprived sections.  The Constitutional provisions have come in very useful to resolve what are essentially political and ideological objectives and the policy conflict of parental free-choice versus educational opportunity. The pronouncements of the Courts have been on varied subjects, affecting the quality and quantity of education services not only encompassing service and management equities but also such academic questions as medium of instruction, access and autonomy of institutions.



11.             Should education be available in accordance with parental willingness to pay or in relation to capacity to learn?


Willingness to pay


Capacity to learn



12.             Do you welcome the acts of judicial activism in general?








13.             Do you consider that the current position has arisen because the provisions in the Constitution are not explicit enough, thus giving scope for a plethora of litigation?








14.             Would you suggest that the provisions of the Constitution should be more explicit and clear-cut, so as not to give scope for encroachment on executive or legislative domain?








D. Constitutional Amendments and their relevance


There has been specific amendments to the Constitution affecting education, as can be seen in 42nd, 73rd, 74th Amendment Acts, and 83rd Amendment Bill. These amendments pertain to provisions to enable education, being in the Concurrent List, devolution of powers to local bodies and making elementary education a Fundamental Right.  It has also been lamented that follow-up action on Constitutional Amendments had either not taken place or slow in implementation.


15.             Do you consider that the amendments to the Constitution were necessary?








16.             If yes, please comment upon the measures to be taken to ensure proper follow-up action.







(Not more than 200 words)


E. Implementation


Article 45 of the Constitution provides that the State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of the Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.


It is 40 years since the deadline as provided in the said article has expired, and we are still to achieve the goal mentioned therein. Admittedly there has been failure in this front and the target dates are being revised from time to time. The following reasons are frequently cited as reasons for this.


17.             Please indicate where does the principal cause of failure lie?

(a)  Lack of facilities at the doorstep.

(b) Failure to create demand for education resulting in indifferent parental motivation

(c)  Irrelevance of the educational package

(d) Insufficient care to link early childhood care

(e)  Education at the school resulting in negative characteristics resulting in alienation of the children from their families because of the needs of the system and peer pressure.

(f)   None of the above.
















(g)        If you have any other cause to suggest, please give details:-







(Not more than 200 words)


18.             (a) Do you agree that there should be an early end to the dual system which we now run at all stages under which the classes have access to a small group of high quality elite institutions while the masses are compelled to study in public institutions of poor quality?








(b) If yes, what steps do you suggest to accomplish equality?







(Not more than 200 words)


F.         The Consultation Paper refers to several statements that “it was a wrong policy that we did not place adequate emphasis on programs of adult education to liquidate mass illiteracy”. Adult illiteracy is still a major problem in achieving “total literacy”.


19.             Regarding this:


(a)      do you think that ‘adult education’ should have been included in the Directive Principles of State Policy?








(b)      should, in your opinion, a participatory approach be adopted to achieve better results in this field, as the persons to study are older and can understand the need?









(c)      does adult education need a different pedagogical approach?









G. Other Issues


20.             The Dynamics of education and its role in each society in development and transformation make it essential that education continuously renews itself in order to prepare for a future rather than for obsolescence. This renewal process drives from a variety of sources which include: the growth of human knowledge which is the basic component of education; the heritage of collective experience and values which education transmits to the new generations; the means and methods of communication by which knowledge and values are transmitted and the new values and aspirations which the human spirit adds to the collective experience and wisdom of the past or by which the heritage of the past is reinterpreted and reassessed. The whole basis for access to educational opportunities at all levels has to be a non-party matter and discussion of its aspects should be beyond party politics and cut across party lines.  The commitment of the various political parties on universalisation of elementary education must also converge into a consensus on content and dissemination.


(a)     What, in your perception, is the best process to secure consensus?







(Not more than 200 words)

(b)     Should implementation aspect of universalisation of elementary education is a matter to be spelt out the parameters in a document in the Constitution itself, so that the consensus obtained is justiciable?








(c)     Should ‘heritage’ be a matter of instruction, or should it be a matter of discovery by the individual by applying of learning methods?


Matter of instruction


Matter of discovery




(d)     What, in your opinion, should be the agency for School Text Books and how can that Agency be insulated from non-academic pressures?






(Not more than 200 words)


21.             (a) Should we have Constitutional guarantees to ensure that the sanctity for the financial outlays and the schemes therefor is honoured? 









(b) If renewal, reform and rethinking are fundamental to the process of education, should the Constitution ensure that these take place and are not subject to whims and fancies of the powers that be or become matters of lower priority?








22.             What, in your opinion, can be the structures specific to educational institutions to protect the interests of all the stakeholders, and to ensure a certain degree of autonomy and insulation from political buffetting?







(Not more than 200 words)


23.             Do you agree to the suggestion that all teachers should be declared as civil servants, with their salaries coming from the State?







24.             Should the selection of teachers, in your opinion, be on considerations of merit alone, where equity is not a consideration and the principle of ‘affirmative action’ will not apply in this matter?








25.             On the other side of the coin, in the name of autonomy, do you perceive that the teacher community should be protected by the State?








H. Proposed Amendments to the Constitution


26.             In Chapter VII of the Paper, seven illustrative areas are indicated for amendments.  The amendments suggested include, enlargement of the Preamble, a new Fundamental Right for Right to Knowledge, etc. Please give your reaction/comments/suggestions on each of these suggestions.


(a)              Preamble could be enlarged to secure to us a learning society so that the fruits of Enlightenment reach one and all without fear, favour or discrimination.







(Not more than 200 words)

(b)             With the vast changes taking place in the world of knowledge and communication, it might be worthwhile to incorporate a new Fundamental Right, namely, Right to Knowledge. The Right to Knowledge is broader than the Right to Know which has already been derived from the existing Fundamental Rights









(Not more than 200 words)


(c)              The existing Directive Principle contained in Article 45 or the amended provision as contained in the Constitution 83rd Amendment Bill needs to be more explicit and spelling out.









(Not more than 200 words)


(d)             In the field of education, sunset laws should be in operation, so that obsolescence is at a minimum and anachronisms are removed, with such laws subject to strict reviews.





(Not more than 200 words)


(e)              There is a strong case for ensuring autonomy for the education budget with a provision for educational expenditure being charge on Consolidated Fund of States.







(Not more than 200 words)


(f)               There is need for a regular Education Commission like a Finance Commission, reporting to Parliament to review and update the systems.







(Not more than 200 words)


(g)              There is need to insulate the educational bodies from needless litigation, when structural changes become necessary. 







(Not more than 200 words)


24.        Do you have any other suggestion to make on the issues discussed in the Consultation Paper? If so, please give details:-







(Not more than 200 words)





(See para 3.3)





LITERACY RATE (2001 Census) (in %)

( 1991 Census)

(1991 -2001)












Andaman & Nicobar Is.*







Andhra Pradesh







Arunachal Pradesh



































Dadra & Nagar Haveli*







Daman & Diu*



































Himachal Pradesh







Jammu & Kashmir




























Lakshadweep *







Madhya Pradesh













































































Tamil Nadu














Uttar Pradesh














West Bengal








1.       The population of India includes the estimated population of entire Kachchh district, Morvi, Maliya-Miyana and Wankaner talukas of Rajkot district, Jodiya taluka of Jamanagar district of Gujarat State and entire Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh where population enumeration of Census of India 2001 could not be conducted due to natural calamity.


2.       Figures shown against Population in the age-group 0-6 and Literates do not include the figures of entire Kachchh district, Morvi, Maliya-Miyana and Wankaner talukas of Rajkot district, Jodiya taluka of Jamanagar district and entire Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh where population enumeration of Census of India 2001 could not be conducted due to natural calamity.


3.       Figures shown against Himachal Pradesh have been arrived at after including the estimated figures of entire Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh where the population enumeration of Census of India 2001 could not be conducted due to natural calamity.


(Source: Provisional Population Totals: India. Census of India 2001, Paper 1 of 2001)





















(See para 3.7.5)



Current Literacy Programs



1.                   Rural Functional Literacy Project (RFLP):  Adult Education Centres are set up by RFLP in all the States and Union Territories. They are fully funded by the Central Government although the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations are responsible for its implementation.

2.                   State Adult Education Program (SAEP):  Funded fully by the State Governments, this program aims at strengthening ongoing Adult Education Programs and expanding its coverage to ensure that the programs reach women and other underprivileged groups.

3.                   Adult Education through Voluntary Agencies:  A Central Scheme of Assistance to Voluntary Agencies exists to facilitate the participation of Voluntary Agencies.  The Government of India provides financial grants to Voluntary Agencies on program basis.

4.                   Involvement of students and youth in Adult Education Programs. The University Grants Commission provides 100 per cent financial assistance to colleges and universities to support their active involvement in literary and adult education activities. Specifically, 50,000 adult education centres are expected to be organized under this program. Simultaneously with the adult education program, the college and university students will be engaged in spreading universal primary education among non-school-going children.

5.                   Nehru Yuvak Kendras:  This non-student youth organization has been developing training programs to educate young people according to their identified felt needs.

6.                   Non-Formal Education for Women and Girls:  This project puts special emphasis on improving women’s socio-economic status by ensuring their participation in development programs in addition to efforts for family planning and promotion of welfare of children. This program is a joint effort of the Government of India and UNICEF.

7.                   Shramik Vidyapeeths:  This program has been established and ever since funded by the Government of India with the aim to provide integrated education to urban and individual workers and their families in order to raise their productivity and enrich their present life.

8.                   Central Board for Workers Education :  This program aims at providing literacy to unskilled and semi-skilled persons as well as raising their awareness and functionality. Its special feature is to meet the recognized needs of the workers with a specially matched program.

9.                   Functional Literacy for Adult Women :  Started in the International Year of Women, under the sponsorship of the Government of India, this program covers health and hygiene, food and nutrition, home management and child care, education, and vocational and occupational skills.

10.               Incentives Awards Scheme for Female Adult Literacy :  designed to promote literacy among 15-35 year old women, this scheme presents awards to adult education centres (at the district, and Union Territory levels). At the State level, the awards are intended for equipments of various kinds as well as training facilities.

11.               Post-Literacy and Follow-up Program : The program has been in operation since 1984-1985. The Directorate of Adult Education has developed broad guidelines for the preparation of neo-literate materials for the State Governments and State Resource Centres. Prototype neo-literate materials have also been produced.


The listed activities reflect India’s determination to make the entire population literate by involving the other Government agencies related to development as well Universities and Voluntary Organization in literary activities. The responsibility for planning and financing these activities, however, rests with the Central and State Governments.