Universalisation of Elementary and Secondary Education.
No society can progress without an effective system of education. In a Democracy like India, it is essential that all people in the country must get the benefits of education. Since most of the Indians are poor and ignorant they may not understand the value of education.

Elementary Education:-

One of the noticeable outcomes of the 1986 Policy on Education is the increasing focus on elementary education. Before independence, enlightened Maharajas of some ofthe princely States had introduced compulsory primary education, the first of them being the Maharaja of Baroda in 1906 and the Maharajas of Travancore and Cochin. In 1994 the Supreme Court gave a directive to the government that the State must provide universal primary education for children from 6 to 14 years of age. It was in the year 2002 the government made a constitutional amendment on article 45 of the constitution.

The concept of universalisation signifies that education is for all and not for a selected few. This also means that education is the birth right of every child. Universalisation of elementary education was one of the most important goals of education in India since independence. It means, make primary education available to all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. Article 45 of the Indian constitution states ‘the state shall endeavour 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’. (This article is presently under Art. 21 (A) of the constitution). In other words we are committed to universal, free and compulsory elementary education.

The poor parents may not be financially sound to meet the expenses of the education of their child. So it must be free. The ignorant parent may not understand the value of education. Thus state shall endeavour to provide compulsory elementary education to all children irrespective of caste, sex, religion, socio-economic status and place of birth, etc. This will be possible if we make elementary education free and compulsory. The concept free signifies that no fees will be collected from children for giving elementary education in educational institutions run by the state or receiving grants out of the state funds. The concept signifies that all children attaining the age of 6 are to be enrolled in Class 1 and should continue until they complete Class VIII at the age of 14 years. The Kothari Commission (1964-66) recommended three practical measures to universalize primary education;

Universal Provision:-

This means that an elementary school should be provided in each area within a walkable distance (1 km) of the child’s home so that all children in the age-group of 6 to 14 are provided with school facilities. It is recommended that every child has to be provided a school within his reach. (Universal provision of school facilities)

Universal Enrolment:-

This means that every child attaining the age of 6 must be enrolled compulsorily in Class 1. Here it may be mentioned that the gross enrolment is very often taken amiss as universal enrolment.

Universal Retention:-

Once a child joins a primary school he should remain in education till he complete all VII classes. When a child admitted to class 1 it is the responsibility of the school people to see that the child progresses regularly from year to year. Children should be properly understood and guided so that they do not leave school before they complete Class VIII.

It was the hope of the framers of the constitution that by 1960 all children below 14 years would receive primary education. But we could not materialize the dreams of framers of the constitution. It is hoped that Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) would be realized in the beginning of this 21st century.

The 86th constitutional amendment act -2002 December, has changed provisions related to education, i.e.,

  • Under article 21 A, free and compulsory primary education has become a fundamental right.(the state shall endeavor to provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age from 6 to 14 years).
  • The state shall endeavor to provide Early Childhood Care and Education to all children until they reach the age of 6 years. (Art. 45)
  • A parent or guardian is to provide opportunities for education to his child, as the case may be the age of 6 to 14 years (Art.51 A (k).

Secondary Education:-

Since the secondary stage of education coincides with the adolescence period, it becomes the most crucial period. It is the terminal stage of a large number of pupils who enter life. It assists them to become useful members of a complex moder society, Secondary education is the second level of schooling that falls between the elementary level and higher education. Before the introduction of the 10+2+3 patterns of education in India, there were several patterns of secondary education. The Secondary Education Commission 1952-53 outlined the four aims of secondary education:

  • Development of democratic citizenship
  • Improvement of vocational efficiency
  • Development of personality
  • Development of qualities of leadership
Problems of Secondary Education

  • Expensive scheme
  • Heavy financial burden on parents
  • Heavy curriculum
  • Lowering of standard in certain subjects
  • Not child centered


Universal enrolment and universal retention of children under the age of 14 are essential to fulfill the constitutional guarantee of UEE. It cannot be neglected that the primary education still suffers from the problem of wastage and stagnation.

It is a fact that child who is enrolled in class I doesn’t progress regularly from year to year. The child who gets admission to a school leaves the school before he completes the prescribed class. He drops out. This premature withdrawal of children from school is known as wastage. Hartog Committee (1929) defined wastage as the premature withdrawal of children from school at any stage before the completion of the course. Thus money invested on the individual is wasted, Stagnation means that a student fails to complete the prescribed course within the allotted time.e., he fails in his classes and stays there are more than the required time. It is the retention of children in the same class for more than one year because of poor progress. According to Hartog Committee ‘stagnation is the retention of a child in a lower class for a period of more than one year’. Stagnation discourages the child as well as his parents to think it is better to withdraw the child from the school.

Causes of Wastage and Stagnation

Social causes

    Social backwardness (SC, ST)

    Illiteracy of parents

    Orthodox mentality of parents about the education of girls

    Domestic problems

    Child marriage


    Helping parents to earn more

    Evil social practices and traditions

Educational causes

    Lack of facilities in the schools

    Faulty admission policy

    Appointment of non-committed teachers

    Heavy and uninteresting curriculum

    Unscientific teaching methods

    Defective system of evaluation

    Fear of examination

    Lack of contact between parents and teachers

    Lack of finances

    Lack of proper administration

    Heterogeneity in the age composition

Remedial measures

    Revision and improvement of curriculum

    Change in teaching method

    Stoppage of child marriage

    Minimizing heterogeneity in the age composition

    Special allowance for teachers in rural areas

    Establish schools in needy areas

    Adoption of new techniques of evaluation

    Adjusting school hours

    Improve the facilities in the school

    Arrange provisions for reducing the costs of education

Now let us briefly discuss some of the innovations, strategies and programmes that are being applied in India now a days to achieve Universalisation of Elementary Education.

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