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Analysing the Elementary Education Scenario

Deepa Sankar

By Santosh Mehrotra , P. R. Panchmukhi, Ranjana Srivastava and Ravi Srivastava 
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 422, Rs. 695.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 10 October 2005

The book under review Universalizing Elementary Education in India: Uncaging the ‘Tiger’ Economy has been out at a critical juncture when policy makers and educationists are engaged in assessing the interventions during the 1990s and reviewing the progress made so far in universalizing elementary education, especially in this decade, under the SSA programme. Notwithstanding the Constitutional pronouncement (Article 45) that “the state shall endeavor to provide within a period of 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years”, India is nevertheless besieged with the mission to reach the Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) goals even after half a century of Independence. However, the attention given to the sector consequent upon the launching of the National Policy on Education (1986), the World Conference on Education for All in 1990 in Jomtien, and the recent UN Millennium Development Goals Declaration (2000) along with the implementation of the varied centrally sponsored schemes specifically targeting the elementary education sector has imparted much needed impetus to the efforts towards UEE goals in the country. Since its launch in 2001, the centrally sponsored programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has been instrumental in ensuring additional resources to state governments to implement elementary education reforms and getting more children into the school.   In this book, the authors synthesize a large corpus of research related to the status, progress and financing of elementary education in India during the 1990s. Hence, the study provides a baseline to gauge the progress under the SSA programme introduced in 2001. The study is mainly organized in four sections, each with specific focus on (a) the state of elementary education in India in the 1990s, (b) public expenditure on elementary education in the 1990s, (c) private sector provision and household costs of elementary education as evident from UNICEF survey; and (d) resource needs and reform agenda for universalizing elementary education. The authors use a combination of primary and secondary data analysis. The study makes good use of the existing sources of information such as the sixth All India Education Survey (1993) for access and provision analysis, NSS 52nd round (1995-96) for enrolments and educational attainments as well as private sector role and MHRD data mainly for public expenditure analysis.   Obviously, the study provides the elementary education scenario as evident from these various sources in a nutshell. While the analysis in many parts confirms the conclusions of ...

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