South Asia Forum for Education Development South Asia Forum for Education Development
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There are broadly four stages of school education in India: primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary. In pursuance of the National Policy on Education of 1968 and 1986, there have been attempts to evolve a uniform pattern of school education with 12 years of schooling, commonly known as the 10+2 pattern. The 'plus two' stage refers to Classes XI and XII, which constitute the higher secondary stage in all 35 states and union territories (UTs).
In some states, higher secondary stage is part of collegiate education known as junior colleges. The organizational patterns of the first 10 years of schooling differ considerably across states and UTs. While in 22 states/UTs, secondary stage consists of Classes IX and X, in 13 states/UTs, it consists of Classes VIII, IX and X. The initial schooling stage up to Class VII or VIII (as is the case in many states/UTs) is also referred as the ‘elementary stage’. Following Class XII, there are generally three years of graduate level study.

The 10+2+3 pattern of education introduced in the country envisages a broad-based general education for all pupils during the first 10 years of school education. The curriculum at this stage is largely undifferentiated and little attempt is made to introduce diversified courses. The focus
14 of the curriculum at the primary stage is on the development of the basic skills of literacy and numeracy, study of the environment in terms of physical and social phenomena, participation in activities which develop productive skills, creative expression and habits of healthy living. In the initial years, the content and methodology are directed towards achieving communication and computational skills with a view to developing the basic tools of learning.

Under NFE, there are various projects and schemes which focus on the education of out-of-school children, the girl child and children in difficult circumstances. Two schemes focus on bringing children into the fold of education, namely the Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE), both of which are components of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), India’s education sector programme. EGS centres are temporary facilities, each of which is to be replaced by a primary school within two years. The formal curriculum is taught and all enrolled children are provided with free textbooks and a mid-day meal. AIE offers a series of flexible options for children who cannot be directly enrolled in a school or EGS centre. The strategies include residential and non-residential bridge courses, back-to-school camps, seasonal hostels, drop-in centres and other alternative schools. AIE also provides support to madrasahs and maktabs. AIE has been effective in providing education to the older age group (11-14 years), children who have never enrolled or have dropped-out, children who migrate seasonally with their families, street and other deprived urban children, working children and other vulnerable children in difficult circumstances.

To enhance girl’s education, various schemes, including the National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) and the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV), are being implemented. Both the schemes are integral but distinct components of the SSA. NPEGEL provides additional provisions for enhancing the education of underprivileged and disadvantaged girls at elementary level through intense community mobilization, the development of model schools in clusters, gender sensitization of teachers, development of gender-sensitive learning materials, early childcare and education facilities and provision of needs-based incentives such as escorts, stationery, workbooks and uniforms for girls.
The focus of the programme is on educationally disadvantaged blocks. The KGBV is designed to encourage greater participation of girls in education at the upper primary level. The scheme has residential upper primary level schools for girls belonging predominantly to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other disadvantaged castes and minority communities with high gender gaps and low female literacy. Three-quarters of the seats are reserved for girls from marginalized or minority communities, and the remaining are available for girls below the poverty line.

For adolescent girls in the 11-18 age-group, Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) is implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The scheme targets adolescents to address selfdevelopment needs in the areas of nutrition, health, literacy, numerical skills, and vocational skills, among others. The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) provides continuing education to approximately 1.4 million learners through 2,945 accredited academic and vocational institutions.

The NIOS offers the following courses of studies through open and distance learning (ODL) mode:

Open basic education programme for children (up to 14 years), adolescents and adults at levels that are equivalent to Classes III, V and VIII of the formal school system; Secondary education course; Senior secondary education course; Vocational educational courses; Life enrichment programmes.


The National Literacy Mission (NLM) was established in 1988 to impart functional literacy to 80 million adult illiterates by 1995, a target which was subsequently revised to cover 100 million adult learners. After trying out different models, the NLM has adopted the Total Literacy Campaign (TLC) approach and post-literacy programmes as the dominant strategy for adult literacy.

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