A SCHEME FOR UNIVERSALISATION OF ACCESS TO AND IMPROVEMENT OF QUALITY AT THE SECONDARY STAGE
1.1.1. Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RSMA) is aimed at expanding and improving the standards of secondary education — classes VIII to X. The RSMA would also take secondary education to every corner of the country by ensuring a secondary school (up to class X) within a radius of 5km for every neighbourhood. Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) which is the most recent initiative of Government of India to achieve the goal of universalisation of secondary education (USE). The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan program set up by the government to bring elementary education to millions of children has been successful to a large extent, and has thus created a need for strengthening secondary education infrastructure across the country. The HRD Ministry has taken note of this, and now plans to implement a secondary education scheme called Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan (RMSA) during the 11th plan at a total cost of Rs.20,120 crore. “With the successful implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a large number of students are passing out from upper primary classes creating a huge demand for secondary education,” the HRD Ministry said.
1.1.2. The population of the age group 14-18 was 8.55 crore in 2001 as per census data. The estimated population of this age group as on 1.3.2005 was 9.48 crore, which is likely to increase to 9.69 crore as on 1.3.2007 i.e., at the beginning of the 11th Five Year Plan. This is likely to stabilize at around 9.70 crore in 2011. The Gross Enrolment Ratio for classes IX-XII in 2005-06 was 40.49%. The figure for classes IX and X was 52.26 % whereas that for classes XI and XII was 28.54%.
1.1.3. With the liberalization and globalization of the Indian economy, the rapid changes witnessed in scientific and technological world and the general need to improve the quality of life and to reduce poverty, it is essential that school leavers acquire a higher level of knowledge and skills than what they are provided in the 8 years of elementary education, particularly when the average earning of a secondary school certificate holder is significantly higher than that of a person who has studied only up to class VIII. It is also necessary that besides general education up to secondary level, opportunities for improvement of vocational knowledge and skill should be provided at the higher secondary level to enable some students to be employable.
1.1.4. Since universalisation of elementary education has become a Constitutional mandate, it is absolutely essential to push this vision forward to move towards Universalisation of secondary education, which has already been achieved in a large number of developed countries and several developing countries. Paras 5.13 – 5.15 of the National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986 (as modified in 1992) deal with Secondary Education. Para 5.13 of the NPE, inter- alia, stated that “Access to Secondary Education will be widened with emphasis on enrolment of girls, SCs and STs, particularly in science, commerce and vocational stream. Vocationalization through specialized institutions or through the re-fashioning of secondary education will, at this stage, provide valuable manpower for economic growth.
1.1.5. Hon’ble Prime Minister in his Independence Day Speech, 2007 has inter-alia stated that, “We are setting out a goal of universalizing secondary education. This is clearly the nest step after universalizing elementary education. While the goal is laudable much work needs to be done before we are in a position to launch the Scheme for Universalisation of Access for Secondary Education (SUCCESS). Its details need to be quickly spelt out and discussed with States so that we are fully ready to launch it from 2008-09. We must not underestimate the complexity of this task as the principles for universalizing elementary education cannot be easily transferred to secondary education. The physical, financial, pedagogical and human resource needs are quite different. We also need to recognize the role currently being played by the private sector and policy design must factor this in. Detailed strategies and plans would need to be worked out rapidly for each state. Special attention would need to be paid to Districts with SC/ST/OBC/Minority concentration. The recommendations of the Sachar Committee need to be seriously considered while planning for this programme”.
1.1.6. The Tenth Plan Mid-Term Appraisal (MTA) document of the Planning Commission has also, inter alia, recommended as follows: “In order to plan for a major expansion of secondary education in the event of achievement of full or near full retention under SSA, setting up of a new Mission for Secondary Education, on the lines of SSA, should be considered.”
1.1.7. Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) is the highest deliberative and advisory forum on Education in the country with Education Ministers of all States and eminent educationists as its Members. It was re-constituted and activated in mid-2004 after a gap of several years. After deliberations in the first meeting of the re-constituted CABE, held in August, 2005, seven Committees of CABE were constituted in September, 2005, two of which were particularly relevant for Secondary Education.
1.1.8. Besides the Committee on Universalisation of Secondary Education, CABE had also, at the same time, set up another Committee on “Girls’ Education & Common School System” under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister, Assam. Report of this Committee was also presented in June, 2005. The Committee has recommended, inter alia, that:
a. “….. making good quality education available to all students in all schools at affordable fees is a primary commitment of the Common School System”,
b. State should invest in public schools system with standards, norms, building, etc., with the same standards as that of Kendriya Vidyalayas.
1.1.9. Reports of both the above CABE Committees were discussed and generally endorsed in the meeting of CABE held on July 14-15, 2005.
1.1.10. It is well recognized that eight years of education are insufficient to equip a child for the world of work as also to be a competent adult and citizen. The pressure on Secondary Education is already being felt due to the success of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Therefore, while secondary education is not constitutionally compulsory, it is necessary and desirable that access to secondary education is universalized leading to enhanced participation, and its quality is improved for all. At the same time, it may not be possible to fully universalize education at the secondary stage during the Eleventh Five Year Plan as the drop out rates are as high as 28.49% from classes I-V and 50.39% from classes I-VIII. However, with rising expectation from improved access to secondary education, retention in classes I-VIII will further improve