The connection between universalisation of elementary education and human development is one of the most widely acknowledged issues in public discourse across the globe. That elementary education plays a pivotal role in reducing social inequalities by expanding human capabilities has been clearly established. Discussions have been going on throughout the world about the ways to universalize education and to deliver quality education in an equitable manner. Yet, the gaps in educational opportunities and achievements of students from certain class backgrounds, social identities, gender and geographical locations have not decreased, rather, they have risen. In fact, the very objective of reducing inequality through educational expansion is defeated at its inception with the failure to incorporate sections of society into the fold of education. In other words, sections of the population are excluded from the educational arena, where the basis of exclusion is determined by the social background they come from – being members of particular social class and again by the gender division within these categories.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is the biggest ever flagship programme being implemented in the entire country with the objective of Universalizing Elementary Education (UEE) by bringing all children in the age group of 6-14 years under the ambit of primary schooling, expanding schooling facility to all inaccessible un-served habitations, creating new school infrastructure and renovating/ improving infrastructure of existing schools. Ultimately, this time bound programme aims at achieving the goal by providing education of satisfactory quality to the children for improving their human capabilities adequately, so that they may stand on their own and lead a successful life of prestige in the practical world of hazards. In conformity with other States and Union Territories of the country the programme was launched in the state in 2001–02.
During the course of its implementation in our state, SSA has gone a long way in bringing about a sea change in the educational profile of the state by way of enrolling out-of-school children and retaining them in the schooling system, effecting a sharp, tangible decline in drop-out rates, increase in transition rate, bridging gender and social gaps, training and motivating teachers to deliver education more effectively, involving community people in the education system, and so on.