India has made great strides in improving access to quality education, increasing elementary school enrollment and reducing the number of out-of-school children.
These achievements have been bolstered by key laws, policies and programmes such as the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act (2009), the National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy (2013). However, challenges do remain.
An estimated 6.1 million children were out of school in 2014 reduced from 13.46 million in 2006. Out of 100 students, 29 percent of girls and boys drop out of school before completing the full cycle of elementary education, and often they are the most marginalized children. (Source: SRI-IMRB Surveys, 2009 and 2014)
Around 50 percent of adolescents do not complete secondary education, while approximately 20 million children do not attend pre-school. (Source Rapid Survey of Children 2013-2014 MWCD)
Half of the primary school-going children – which constitutes nearly 50 million children – not achieve grade-appropriate learning levels. (Source: National Achievement Survey, NCERT 2017)
Furthermore, children’s school readiness at age 5 has been far below expected levels. Over the first half of the Country Programme, there have been various changes in the operating environment that have impacted upon how the UNICEF India Education Programme will operate moving forward.
These changes are in the education policy enabling environment and due to the emergence of COVID-19 and its impact on education services. The three programming areas prioritized at the beginning of the country programme in 2018 based on UNICEF’s mandate, presence, and knowledge of other stakeholders and partners, capacities, available resources, gaps/needs, and lessons learned, remain relevant. These are: Early childhood education Out-of-school children Quality teaching and learning Girls and boys including the most marginalized will enjoy sustained and equitable benefit from quality education with learning outcomes focusing on foundational learning and life skills. This is the vision of the UNICEF Education Programme.
UNICEF is working closely with the Government of India, state governments in 17 states, civil society, academic institutions and the private sector.
While primary engagement will be with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Women and Child Development, more involvement with ministries of Tribal, Minority and Social Justice Departments, and Disaster Management Authorities will be essential, especially in terms of ensuring the delivery of quality education to the most marginalized children which forms the centre of our work.
To achieve the outcome – Girls and boys, particularly the most disadvantaged, participate in quality education with learning outcomes at grade-appropriate levels by 2022. The programme
The following intermediate outcomes have been identified:
The number of out-of-school children reduced in nine high-concentration states
Increased enrolment of children in early childhood education programmes
Improved enabling environment for learning in selected states.