Importance of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) in India

Children in a school, India. Image: Pixabay.

Universalisation of education implies five things namely, universalisation of provision, universalisation of enrolment, universalisation of retention universalisation of participation and universalisation of achievement.

Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) has been accepted as a national goal in India since Independence. The founding fathers of our Constitution recognised UEE as a crucial input for nation building. UEE is also a Constitutional directive.

At the time of Independence, India inherited a system of education which was not only quantitatively small but also characterised by structural imbalances. Only fourteen per cent of the population was literate and only one child out of three had been enrolled in primary school. The low levels of participation and literacy were aggravated by acute regional and gender disparities. As education is vitally linked with the totality of the development process, the reform and restructuring of the educational system was recognised as an important area of state intervention.

The need for a literate population and universal education for all children in the age group of 6-14 was recognised as a crucial input for nation building and was given due consideration in the Constitution as well as in successive Five Year Plans.

Measures Adopted by the Government of India to Ensure/Achieve UEE

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, in short RTE Act, is the most important development in the Universalisation of Elementary Education in India. It guarantees universalisation of quality education at elementary  level in the country.

Other than RTE Act, the important measures adopted by the Government of India to achieve UEE include the following:

  • Disaggregated target setting and decentralised micro-planning, which will provide the framework of universal access and community participation.
  • Strengthening alternative channels of schooling such as the non-formal education system for those who cannot avail of conventional full-time schooling.
  • Introduction of minimum levels of learning at primary and upper primary stages to improve learner’s achievement.
  • Improvement of school facilities by revamping the scheme of Operation Blackboard.
  • Establishing linkages between programmes of early childhood care and education, primary education, literacy and UEE.
  • Addressing the more difficult aspects of access, particularly to girls, disadvantaged groups and out-of-school children.
  • Restructuring of teacher training in view of the changed strategies and programmes.
  • Availing of external financial support for basic education.
  • Launching the National Elementary Education Mission (NEEM).
  • Launching of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

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