Universalization of education refers to the enrollment, retention, and universal access to qualitative education for children up to the age of 14. Elementary education is a Fundamental Right. The provisions included in the Constitution of India emphasize offering elementary education to all children. Attempts by India to universalize elementary education (UEE) date back to the pre-independence period. This fostered the inclusion of the same under the Indian Constitution’s Directive Principles of State Policy under Article 45 (1950).
According to Article 45 of the Directive Principles of State Policy,
“The State shall endeavour to provide, within ten years from the commencement of the Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they attain the age of 14 years.”
Steps for Universalisation of Education
Some major steps taken by the government for universalisation of education are:
The Kothari Commission (1964)
The Kothari Commission was an ad hoc commission formed by the Government of India under the Chairmanship of Daulat Singh Kothari on 14 July 1964 and dissolved on 29 June 1966. He was the chairman of the University Grants Commissions (UGC) when the Kothari Commission was formed. The Commission consisted of twenty members who were experts in the education domain and based out of the UK, USA, Japan, Sweden, and France.
National Policy of Education (1986)
The main goal of NPE was to universalise elementary education through facilities such as quality education, trained teachers, adequate teaching and learning materials. It also took steps to remove inequality and discrimination based on social criteria.
Sarvarva Shiksha Abhiyan
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is a flagship program started by the government of India in 2001. It was developed to achieve the Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE). The provision of legal backing for SSA occurred when the Indian Constitution under Article 21 A, made free and compulsory education for the children in the age group of 6-14 a fundamental right in.
Importance of Universalisation of Education
The importance of universalisation of education are as follows:
Increases National Productivity
Universalization of education leads to the literacy of more citizens which fosters the productivity of the nation.
Through the universalisation of education, the equality of all citizens can be fostered.
Spreads Mass Literacy
Literacy is the basic criteria of economic development and universalisation of education will facilitate mass literacy.
Fosters National Development
Education is a must for a country to develop and thrive and through the universalisation of education, more citizens can be educated.
Effective Democratic Functioning
India is a democratic country and when everyone receives equal education opportunities, the democratic institution can function effectively.
Through the universalisation of education, more citizens can gain opportunities and develop efficiently.
The competence of the average worker is increased through the universalisation of education.
The government has been taking many measures to universalise education through programs such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Kothari Commission, and National Education Policy to name a few.