Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan – As A Birth Right To Reckon Through Universalization Of Primary Education
The “Education for All” movement, better known as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan aims to bridge social, gender and region facets of education in the country. Education is not only about reading books but sustains a full-fledged growth for the children, enabling them take valued decisions and contribute to the society and community for betterment. An initiative of the Government of India, SSA or Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has been instrumental in nurturing the concept of “Universalization of Primary Education”.
This is programmed to be achieved in a time bound manner, as per the 86th amendment to the constitution of India. This program envisages to making education free, compulsory and a fundamental right of every child in the age group of 6 years to 14 years. The program was started during the time of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure as Prime Minister during the year 2000-2001. SSA is being put into force by the aid of state governments, so as to cover the entire country and help more than 1 billion children to have elementary education.
Motive of the Program:
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan aims at bringing equality in gender, society and regions with active community participation in the schools and their management. Preschool learning in ICDS centers or special centers in the non ICDS centers are being stressed upon under the aegis of the Ministry of Women and Child Empowerment of Government of India.
Process of Operation:
Through the program, there is the aim of opening up schooling facilities in areas, where there are none such present, and also make the existing facilities of education stronger by having sufficient classrooms, toilets, drinking water and other needs for the children coming to the school. Maintenance grants and grants for improvement of the schools are also targeted through the Abhiyan.
The teacher strength is made adequate by more providing more number of teachers and the present teachers’ capacity is improved by imparting training. Teaching learning materials are being provided along with grants to access them and academic support structure at the cluster level as well as in the block and district level is strengthened.
Another aim of the SSA is to impart life skills apart from elementary education. With special focus on girl child education, attention is also given to those children with special needs. There are also efforts directed towards bridging the digital deficiencies by providing computer education.
Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, although the entire country was included, more attention was given to the educationally backward blocks (EBB). For the primary phase of SSA implementation a list was made selecting 3073 EBBs. These were the EBBs, where Model Schools, girls’ hostels, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, etc were constructed. The identification was done with the assistance of twin features of Female Literacy Rate (FLR) and the Gender Gap in Literacy. In India, FLR is 46.13%, which is quite lower than the national average literacy rate of 65.4% (as referred from the National Literacy Mission). Also, there is more than 21.59% gender gap observed in female literacy as compared to the male literacy figure. In the second stage of implementation of SSA, rural FLR of less than 45% was included and 404 more blocks were added to the initial list of EBBs. Also one SC block and one ST block from the states of West Bengal and Orissa respectively were selected for implementation of this project.
It is also decided to involve communities in the implementation of the programs. Here ICDS centers and special centers in the non-ICDS centers were developed with the help of people from the same communities, so that they could assist in the management of the local schools.
Basic Guidelines/ Conducts of SSA:
Setting up of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has been done with some specific targets.
- It was targeted to send all the children to schools, Alternate School or “Back to School” camp and Education Guarantee Centre by 2003
- All children were supposed to finish elementary schooling for five years by 2007
- Eight years of elementary schools for all children to be covered by 2010
- There was need to focus on quality elementary education where education for life was to be emphasized
- Social and gender category gaps were supposed to be bridged at the primary level by 2007 and at the level of elementary education by 2010
- There was aim to retain children in schools by 2010
Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, education of the girls was given special focus. It was recognized that education for girls in India requires change in the mindset and attitude of people as well as a holistic change in the education system. Therefore gender targeted systems were brought into the picture with some targets like:
- All girls to be provided with free text books till class VIII
- Toilets were to be separate for girls
- For out-of-school girls, back to school camps were organized
- Early childhood care and education centre near schools to be converged with ICDS centers
- Gender sensitive teaching learning methods along with text books
- Teachers were sensitized through programs to provide equitable learning
- Recruitment of women teachers enhanced to the extent of 50%
- Community mobilization for the push factor to improve current status of girls’ education
- Early Childhood Care and Education being integrated to let girl students free from sibling care, which was leading up to their absenteeism
The National Program for Education of Girls for Elementary Level or NPEGEL program was launched in 2003 for the underprivileged and disadvantaged girls. Launching of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya and various other programs at the state level were to be done for furthering the cause of girls’ education.
Quality of education/ Right to Education:
- Apart from the various initiatives under the SSA, the Right to Education (RTE) was supposed to improve the quality of education.
- Mean years of schooling was to be up-to 4.4 years.
- There was a felt need to enhance the spending on the elementary education.
It was provisioned that alternative schooling was to be provided within one kilometer of every habitation, so that child attending such schooling programs do not feel discouraged by the distance factor.
By partnering with various research organizations, regular appraisals were to be done. Pool of persons were to be created for the observation, monitoring and reporting of the progress of education as being implemented by SSA.
Employment Opportunities in SSA in 2012-2013:
Through different state governments, teacher recruitment is to be done in large numbers for the schools which were created/ catered under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan such as model schools, KGBV and other regular schools.
The appointment would be made in the category of TBT and JBT teachers. Apart from teachers, some of the other posts for computer operator and instructors, data entry operator, stenographers, etc are also developed so as to help smooth monitoring and implementation of the program.
With the Abhiyan catching success up to a significant extent, in 2013 it is expecting to recruit more numbers of people in the education programs. Plenty of job opportunities are assured through these recruitment processes. People need to be aware of the notifications announced through the official website of SSA at http://ssa.nic.in.
End Note: The project of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has offered an insight into the primary education system of India. This project although could not make itself aside from certain criticisms at some point of time, but has gathered immense importance as a systematic education system that encourage the core concept of “Universalization of Primary Education”. Primary education as a born right is offered emphasis and this program truly has offered its best in structuring the future citizens of this nation.