India's goals and strategies

Print edition : May 13, 2000

In an interview to Nitya Rao, M.K.Kaw, Secretary, Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, who led the Indian delegation to Dakar, outlined the strategies to be adopted to achieve the Dakar objectives. Excerpts:

How do you find the Dakar Framework of Action?

The objectives in the Framework are reasonable. In fact, India would have liked to see them more stringent. We would like to achieve 75 per cent literacy by 2005 and universal elementary education, that is, eight years of schooling for every child, by 20 10.

What are the main strategies to achieve this?

The main strategy for universal elementary education would be the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a holistic and comprehensive attempt to bring together all the programmes of elementary education. We now have more than 15 different programmes - the District Prima ry Education Programme, Shikshakarmi, teacher training, nutritional support, scholarships, free uniforms and textbooks, Operation Blackboard and several others. This would be a menu-driven programme, ensuring the flexibility needed to spend on the basis of needs, rather than a take-it-or-leave-it approach as is currently the case.

How would it be organised?

In terms of institutional mechanisms, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan will be based on district-level planning and will allow for a combination of formal and non-formal approaches. A State Education Agency would be set up to receive Central funds outside the S tate budget. The structure would be along the lines of the District Rural Development Agency.

What about adult literacy?

We cannot add to this new agency everything that would overload it. The strategy for adult literacy has already been changed, with a clubbing together of total literacy and post-literacy. This would ensure continuity and the attainment of both literacy a nd other functional skills.

How will early childhood be integrated into the education programme?

Early childhood through the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) falls under the purview of the Department of Women and Child Development. There is, no doubt, a need to establish linkages between Ministries, but first we have to ensure better coord ination among the various departments of our own Ministry.

How would these plans be financed?

State and Central resources would be mobilised to set up a Bharat Shiksha Kosh. The Madhya Pradesh Government has already launched a Fund-a-School campaign. The general atmosphere in the country and the world is favourable towards education, so we are co nfident of mobilising resources. Against Rs.4,400 crores in 1999-2000, Rs.5,450 crores has been allocated in the current year for education. This 24 per cent increase in the education budget is the highest in any sector except defence, which saw an incre ase of 27 per cent.

Further, a group of Ministers is currently reviewing the proposal to declare education a fundamental right. A law on free and compulsory elementary education is in the process of being drafted. If these come into place, resources will follow.

Has there been any mapping of priority regions within the country?

This has already been done. It is 146 districts in nine States of the country that are really educationally backward. We need to focus attention on these. The Chief Ministers here have to make commitments to education. Separate strategies are needed for different contexts. For instance, for urban slums, the example of Pratham in Mumbai has worked well. We are now taking their assistance to replicate that in urban slums in other parts of the country.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor