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" The Education Programme supports and strengthens government efforts to provide quality education by reducing gender and other social and economic disparities at the national and state levels. The Mini "

The Education Programme supports and strengthens government efforts to provide quality education by reducing gender and other social and economic disparities at the national and state levels. The Ministry of Human Resource Development is the nodal ministry for UNICEF’s Education Programme.

Through a close and productive partnership with MHRD and the Department of School Education and Literacy along with civil society, the Programme has been supporting the government of India’s flagship programme Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All)1 to ensure greater access to education, enrolment and improved learning outcomes for the most marginalized groups of children.

While retaining a focus on elementary education for children aged 6 – 14 years under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), the programme is now covering a wider gamut – starting from early childhood education through elementary up to Grade 10. Child friendly schools and systems are being promoted and capacities of teachers strengthened to ensure children’s right to learn. Convergence with other programmes to combat child labour and child marriage, and universal access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, is also ensured. The programme aims to:

  • Improve equitable access to quality early childhood education
  • Accelerate implementation of the Right to Education Act and child friendly schools
  • Enhance capacities of teachers and pre-school functionaries to deliver quality education
  • Mobilize communities to demand equitable access to quality education
  • Increase access to secondary education for adolescents with a focus on reducing gender and social disparities

Key Challenges:

  • An estimated 8.1 million children are out of school, majority of those belonging to the disadvantaged groups.
  • Drop out rates are high. Despite achieving close to universal enrolment at primary level, 27% children drop out between Class 1 and 5, 41% before reaching Class 8, and 49% before reaching Class 10. The figures are higher for children from Scheduled Castes (27%, 43%, and 56% respectively) and Scheduled Tribes (36%, 55%, and 71%).
  • Wide gender disparities exist in education. For every 100 boys enrolled in secondary education, there are 81 girls enrolled.
  • Less than half (47%) of Class 5 students can read Class 2 text5. Children’s attendance rate in rural primary schools has shown a decline from 73% in 2007 to 71%6 in 2012.
  • As per RTE norms, there should be one teacher for every thirty students at primary level and one teacher for every thirty-five students at upper primary level. However, 41% of primary schools have a pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of more than 30 and 31% of upper primary schools have a PTR more than 35. About 80% of regular teachers and 72% of contractual teachers are professionally qualified.
  • Of the 1.3 million schools across India, only 72% of elementary schools have a separate girls’ toilet, while only 85% of these toilets are functional.
  • Significant challenges still remain to keep schools safe considering rising civil unrest and the wide prevalence of corporal punishment across the country.

Key Opportunities:

  • The Parliament has passed the Right to Education Act (RTE), making eight years of quality education a fundamental right for every girl and boy in India. Enacted on 1 April 2010, the RTE serves as a building block to ensure that every child from 6 to 14 years has his or her right to receive quality elementary education, and that the State, with the help of families and communities, fulfills this obligation.
  • National Policy on Early Childhood Care and Education approved by Cabinet which consists of the ECCE policy, curriculum framework and quality standards. There is now a movement to expand RTE to include early childhood and secondary education.

Key Results Achieved:

  • Notification of RTE rules and implementation guidelines across all States and Union Territories resulting in more than 11 million more children in schools, significant resource allocations to the sector and major education reforms.
  • Since 31 March 31 2013 RTE deadline, RTE stocktaking at the national level and in ten states completed to accelerate implementation
  • Child friendly schools as mandated by RTE integrated into governments plans and budgets including Activity Based child-centred method of teaching and learning replicated across 13 states.
  • Improved water, sanitation and hygiene practices mainstreamed into RTE plans.
  • National Policy on Early Childhood Care and Education cleared by the Government.
  • Early childhood education curriculum piloted in 16 states and finalized in three.
  • Support to GOI Teacher Education Mission to ensure academic support structure strongly linked to learning outcomes
  • National Vision for Girls’ Education and 2015 Roadmap incorporated into SSA Annual Work Plans and Budgets as well as capacity development of state Gender Coordinators through GOI-civil society partnerships
  • Ministerial level support for RTE implementation in civil strife affected areas including new programming in Jammu and Kashmir
  •  District Information Systems for Education (DISE), NUEPA, 2011 – 2012.
  • 83 or the 640 districts are affected by civil unrest. Ministry of Home Affairs

For more information and interviews, please contact:

Caroline den Dulk  Chief of Communication, UNICEF India
Tel: +91-98-1810-6093; E-mail:

Geetanjali Master, Communication Specialist, UNICEF India
Tel: +91-98-1810-5861; E-mail:

Sonia Sarkar, Communication Officer- Media, UNICEF India
Tel: +91-98-101-70289; E-mail:


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