Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

The rationale for implementing the SSA...

The Government has planned a major initiative to achieve universal primary education over the next seven years under the Sarva Shiksha Ab-hiyan scheme. The scheme envisages community- owned schools in which all children between the ages of 6 and 14 years would be enrolled by the year 2003 to complete four to five years of schooling by the year 2007.
A significant difference between this scheme and the previous attempts to push universal primary education is the idea of community-owned schools. This would make those who run the schools as well as the teachers di-rectly responsible to the commu-nity they serve. The Government also plans a special push in areas where female illiteracy is significantly high.- Plan for universal primary education, Hindu, 17/11/2000, /eldoc/n21_/17nov00h1.pdf

THE Prime Minister will head the National Mission on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Govern-ment's much-touted programme for universalisation of elementary education which is going to stick to 6-14 as the target group.
Announcing this at the Consultative Committee meeting, Human Re-source Development (HRD) Minister Murli Manohar Joshi said that the necessary notifica-tion will shortly be is-sued...The universalisation of elementary education is expected by 2010. The scheme is estimated to cost, over a 10-year period, an additional Rs 60,000 crore. The HRD Minister urged the religious and charitable institutions to come forward and complement government efforts. Joshi, who is going to be the vice-chairperson of the Mission, said: 'All efforts would be made to provide adequate resources for the Abhiyan based on the District Ele-mentary Education Plan, in part-nership with the state-level depart-ments.

- PM to head mission on education for all,  SANTWANA BHATTACHARYA, Indian Express, 23/12/2000, /eldoc/n21_/23dec00ie1.pdf

As 35 per cent of students in elementary and middle schools quit studies every year in Tamil Nadu, the Centre has come up with a Rs. 300-crore package for the State to reduce dropout. Under its new Sarvasiksha Abiyan campaign (Education for All Scheme), the Centre has already released the funds for the Tamil Nadu Government to improve the quality of education and infrastructure in schools.According to School Education department officials here, the Government would use the funds to upgrade primary schools middle schools ``wherever necessary'', and recruit teachers. As of now, there are about 37,000 primary and middle schools in the State.- Centre's package to reduce dropout in Tamil Nadu, Hindu, 05/01/2002, /eldoc/n21_/centre's_package.html

The government fudged figures to show high enrolment rates...

The education data has travelled to and fro in these three states since March 31, 2003. In April last year, the three states reported a hopeless picture of huge numbers staying out of school based on surveys made till March 31. In Uttar Pradesh, out-of-school children totalled 43 lakh, in Bihar, it was 44 lakh and in West Bengal it was 39 lakh. This worried the then Education Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi. Not that he could do much, except provide grants and hope there would be better implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

Suddenly, around November last year, the states began claiming that they had achieved miraculous turnaround. Joshi, realising elections were around the corner, did not question the data. The figures came in this January. West Bengal claimed that its out-of-school child population had dropped from 39 lakh to 4.39 lakh. Uttar Pradesh insisted that the number of non-enrolled children had plummeted to 2.1 lakh from 43 lakh. Even Bihar made an unbelievable claim and said the number was now 7.46 lakh and not 44 lakh as pointed out at the end of the 2002-03 fiscal.

The figures were then questioned not just by experts but also by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education. Now it appears that the incredulous few were right. In the latest data secured by the Ministry, West Bengal says its non-enrolled children number has gone up to 10 lakh, Bihar’s new figure is a realistic 29.8 lakh and Uttar Pradesh sums up to approximately 7.27 lakh.

- HRD won’t buy states’ claims, orders survey,  Indian Express, 03/10/2004  N20 /eldoc/n20_/03oct04ie1.html

The HRD secretary has falsely claimed that the number of out-of-school children has ‘come down from 35 million in 2000 to 23 million this year’. A clue to how the government arrived at this falsehood is provided by the recently released UNESCO’s EFA Global Monitoring Report 2003-04. The report points out that this lowered estimate is a “consequence of a change in the duration of primary schooling”. The government has apparently fudged statistics by reducing the “official length of the primary span” by one year, thereby reducing the “number of children counted as being out-of-school”.

Fudged statistics, rather than effective policy, is now the chief weapon to substantiate India’s capacity to meet the Dakar Goal of universal primary education by 2015. The Dakar Goal is a dilution of India’s policy commitment to elementary education of eight years. Interestingly, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan boasts of universalising primary education by 2007 and upper primary education by 2010. However, last year’s Unesco report had placed India in a category that is at “serious risk of not achieving any of the three Dakar Goals” even by 2015. These goals included universal primary education, adult literacy and gender parity at the primary stage. The only other two South Asian countries in this embarrassing category with India are Nepal and Pakistan. Even Bangladesh and Bhutan are ahead of us.

 - Goal posts shifted, Anil Sadgopal, Hindustan Times, 11/11/2003, /eldoc/n21_/11nov03ht1.html

The inefficiency of the SSA...

This is an Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) school. Having enrolled 68 children in classes I to V, it usually has an attendance of just a handful in the beginning of the session due to the harvesting season. During rest of the year, the attendance is about 50 per cent, although the names entered in the register are marked present for compulsions such as the mid day meal, scholar-ships and pressure on teachers to  enroll and retain every school aged child in school. However, the same names can be seen in the private school in the vicinity. Yes, girls outnumber boys in enrolment and they belong to ex-tremely deprived groups and low caste. However, many of the boys from the same families are enrolled in private school. Parents report that the quality of education of-fered in private school makes a dif-ference. It is the boy, and not the girl, who has to be well educated in order to run the family. Girls can pickup some basics from the gov-ernment school.

- Poor record of SSA School in Gurgaon, SUMAN SACHDEVA, Grassroot Development, 01/05/2004,/eldoc/n21_/01may04GRD4.pdf

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan pan-India effort of the Government of India to universalise elementary education with community participation has crashed in Punjab. The state has instead earned the dubious distinction of being the slowest in implementing the programme.

Peeved at the tardy progress Union hrd Minister Arjun Singh wrote to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who is also the chairman of the Abhiyan in the state: “In a recent review of the ssa (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) at goi level on September 28-29, 2004, it became evident that Punjab’s SSA expenditure during the current year up to August 2004, was only 5.99 percent of the approved outlay. Furthermore, the latest estimate of school children is one lakh in your state. These are serious concerns and…kindly personally review the programme…”

The Abhiyan, launched in 2001, is a joint effort of the Government of India and the state governments with the former allotting 75 percent funds subject to the condition that 25 percent of the contributions will come from the states. The Abhiyan failed to take off in Punjab where the state’s expenditure of the total outlay was just about 5 percent. Over a lakh children have still not been enrolled in schools. Those who did enroll had to go without benches, blackboards and textbooks.

- Topping from below, Ajmer Singh, TEHELKA, 18/12/2004, /eldoc/n21_/18dec04TEH3.html

IT seems that the Punjab Government needs to be told that appointing teachers and not spending crores on education drives holds the key to educating the masses. A visit by The Tribune to about a dozen village schools located on the banks of the Sutlej here revealed that the education system in the state has virtually collapsed.

These schools don’t have enough teachers and infrastructure and the only thing they have is Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan inscribed on the walls of dilapidated buildings. Almost all schools have no peons and safai karamcharis and students come half hour early to clean up the campus.

Government Primary School at Jindra village is crying for attention. It has only one teacher for 81 students of five classes. When this correspondent visited the school today, the only teacher was on leave and an intermediate girl who had been appointed as temporary teacher was managing the students. Some of the bright students were teaching their classmates.

The school doesn’t have a boundary wall, toilet and proper drinking water arrangements. The students were being taught in the open as there is no power connection in the schools. Classrooms are in a shambles and one of the rooms was serving as a store-cum-kitchen.

Abhiyan’ without ‘Shiksha’ in Punjab schools, Perneet Singh, Grassroot Development, 01/10/2004, /eldoc/n21_/04oct04dch1.html

SSA has not managed to reach its teacher appointment targets...

THE government's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (education for all) is in serious trouble. Many places have no schools and many schools have no teachers. A recent report in this paper shows that most states have failed dismally to reach their teacher-appointment targets for 2003-04.
Bihar's achievement was 0%,
despite which Laloo Yadav won the election handsomely. Clearly Biharis expect so lit-tle  from the government that zero performance in educa-tion no longer constitutes non-performance. The achieve-ment of teacher-appointment targets was just 21 % in West Bengal and 22% in UP. It was best in Orissa (79%) and Jharkand (69%) where appointments were decentralised to the panchayat or community level. In Bihar, power remains tightly centralised and that militates against flexi-ble hiring. This drives home the need to decentralise education. Ideally panchayats and communities should have the authority and funds to hire, pay and fire teachers. That alone will ensure accountability to the community and end the current scandalous state of education where teacher absenteeism can be as high as 40 %.
...Many opted for para-teachers appointed by panchayats rather than regulars. The ostensi-ble reason was to increase accountability and reduce tea-cher absenteeism, but a more compelling reason was bank-ruptcy. Para-teachers are not state government employees, and so can be paid a tiny fraction of government teachers' salaries. True, they cannot provide high-quality education, yet some education is better than none. But as long as they are appointed by state governments, they can always claim and get parity with regular teachers. To prevent this,they must be appointed by panchayats, not state governments.

- Teachers day out Give Panchayats Right To Hire & Fire, Economic Times, 30/06/2004 N20 /eldoc/n20_/30june04et1.pdf

 Just a 3.5% decline in the school dropout rate b a decade, a mere 33% recruitment of teachers, 370 Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV) functioning without permanent buildings. The government's efforts on primary education are nothing more than a lick and a promise.

Parliament's standing committee report on human resource development says "primary education has not really been the priority area of the government". Debunking the government's claim that the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has resulted in an 'outstanding" decline in the number of out-of-school children, from 23 crore in April 2003 to 61 lakh in December last year, the committee said it was an "illusion".

"Proper monitoring of the developments and failures be ensured regularly," the committee has told the government. Lack of teachers and absenteeism where teachers are present are major causes for the high dropout rate, according to the committee report. "Because of this, the dropout rate has come down by just 3.5% during the last decade-from 42.6% in 1991 to 39.1% in 2001." The government's policy to substitute regular trained teachers with under-trained Shiksha Karmis has been criticised by the committee.

"Instead of directly attacking the problem of teacher absenteeism, the department (of education) has created a cadre of semi-trained teachers. Sincere steps should be taken to ensure that only fully trained teachers were into teaching process."

Nothing the abysmal state of adult education, the committee pointed out that only 77% of the allocated funds were used. "An increase of a mere Rs 17 cr from last fiscal year would not be adequate in the face of the gigantic task before the government," the report said.

- 'Govt's education claims an illusion', Times of India, 30/08/2004, /eldoc/n21_/30aug04toi2.html

Financing the SSA...

(The Bill is) Cheap for the following reasons. The fi-nancial implications of the draft Bill pre-pared by Mr. Bommai were calculated by the Saikia committee and estimated as Rs. 40,000 crores for a five-year period. Sub-sequently, the Tapas Majumdar commit-tee set up by the MHRD estimated the figure to be about Rs. 63,000 crores for the same period. It is not clear which estimate Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi will present when he introduces the Bill in the Parlia-ment. The Government talks of a "new policy" called the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, but a closer look reveals that it is not really a policy but an accounting and adminis-trative measure at the Ministry level to combine and use interchangeably various education heads. How that can raise the required amount is anybody's guess. But what seems likely is that the implementa-tion will depend more and more on external funds and follow the path of the cheap Education Guarantee Scheme-based non-formal mode, further reducing the quality of Indian school education.

- The 83rd Amendment, Vinod Raina, Hindu, 06/03/2001, /eldoc/n21_/06mar01h1.pdf

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), launched in the last financial year for the universalisation of elementary education, has till date been in-troduced in 214 districts in 26 States and the Union Territories. The Government has released Rs. 95 crores for preparatory work under the scheme which will cov-er all the 593 districts of the coun-try by March next year, official sources said here. The target is to bring all the children in the age-group of 6-14 to school/alterna-tive school by 2003, provide five years of primary education by 2007, and eight years of elemen-tary education by 2010. To be operationalised in a mis-sion mode, SSA will be implemented in partnership with States and local bodies with the thrust being on community involvement and ownership. All the existing Centrally-sponsored schemes in  elementary education save the National Bal Bhavan and the Na-tional Council for Teacher Education will converge with SSA after the current five year plan pe-riod. Expenditure will be shared be-tween the Centre and the States in the ratio of 85:15 during the 9th Plan, 75:25 in the 10th Plan, and 50:50 thereafter. While Rs. 500 crore has been set apart for the programme in the current year, it is estimated that an additional Rs. 60,000 crore will be required from the Centre and the States over the next decade for the universalisa-tion of elementary education through SSA.

- CENTER RELEASES RS. 95 CR. FOR EDUCATION SCHEME, Hindu, 22/07/2001, /eldoc/n21_/22jul01h1.pdf

With the Centre hopeful of universalising elementary education within a decade through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and anticipating a consequent surge in demand for secondary education, the Human Resource De-velopment (HRD) Ministry has asked for four times the allocation of the Ninth Plan for this segment in the Tenth Plan. As per the plan projections for secondary edu-cation in the Tenth Five Year Plan, Rs. 10,205.02 crores would be required to provide quality edu-cation to students entering the secondary fold in the coming years. This is a four-fold increase over the total expenditure of Rs. 2,400.82 crores in-curred on secondary education in the Ninth Plan.

- Tenth Plan to focus on improving access to secondary schools, Hindu, 17/04/2002, /eldoc/n22_/17apr02h1.pdf

More Articles:

- Delhi focus on child education, Monobina Gupta, The Telegraph, 5 August 2001, /eldoc/n21_/05aug01tel1.pdf

- Look, the HRD ministry has been working, S.C. Tripathi, Indian Express, 12/11/2003, /eldoc/Education/121103.pdf

- Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan faces funds crunch, Times of India, 06/11/2003, /eldoc/Education/061103.pdf

- Universalising elementary education, K. VENKATASUBRAMANIAN, Hindu, 02/11/2003, /eldoc/n21_/02nov03h6.html

- Elementary Failure, Kaveree Bamzai, India Today, 08/09/2003, /eldoc/Education/080903.pdf

- Primary Education, Sharmistha Chakrabarti, Statesman, 12/02/2003, /eldoc/Education/120203.pdf

- Delhi focus on child education, Monobina Gupta,  Telegraph, /eldoc/n21_/05aug01tel1.pdf



1. Education For All - India Marches Ahead, Government of India, 01/11/2004, R.N00.35

2. Ministry of Human Resource Development - Annual Report 2003-2004, Government of India, 01/01/2004, N00.30

3. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan - A Programme for Universal Elementary Education in India, Ministry of Human Resource Development, 30/01/2001, R.N21.50

4. Rajkiya Mujoripai Udhavast Balpan (Marathi), Samarthan, 01/01/2005, R.N20.16

5. Report of the 1st Open House on ‘Fundamental Right to Education: Whose Responsibility?’, Avehi Abacus, 23/12/2004  FRE, SSA, R.N21.51
    Report of the 2nd Open House on ‘Fundamental Right to Education: Whose Responsibility?’, Avehi Abacus, 12/03/2004  FRE, SSA, Common School System, Enrolment, Government Schools (good report), R.N21.51

6. Baseline Study of Elementary Education Chamarajanagar District, National Institute of Advanced Studies, 01/10/2003, R.N21.31

7. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan - A Programme for Universal Elementary Education in India, Ministry of Human Resource Development, 30/01/2001, R.N21.50


Current Challenges in Education, Taj Haseen, 01/01/2005, Neelkamal Publications Pvt Ltd, B.N00.T4


1. BCPT Meeting: Municipal School Education in Mumbai – A meeting of VOs, on 25/08/04 at SNDT Women’s University, Speakers: Farida Lambay, Ramesh Joshi, Trevor Miranda, Bina Sheth N21 Tape 2- report available

2. Report of the 2nd Open House on ‘Fundamental Right to Education: Whose Responsibility?’ Avehi Abacus, 12/03/2004, R. N21 Tape 11 (1) N21 (report also available)