Education is the most important instrument for social and economic development of a nation. A well-educated population, equipped with the relevant knowledge, attitudes and skills is essential for achieving development. Education is the most potent tool for socio-economic mobility and a key instrument for building an equitable and just society.

Recognizing the importance of education in national development, the Twelfth Plan places an unprecedented focus on the expansion of education, on significantly improving the quality of education imparted and on ensuring that educational opportunities are available to all segments of the society.

The Eleventh Plan placed great emphasis on expanding access to education at all three levels ‘ elementary education, secondary education and higher education ‘ also improving the quality of education. The Plan envisaged a substantial increase in the share of Central Sector Plan resources devoted to education.

With regard to public expenditure on education, while the Central Government’s expenditure (as a share of GDP) has steadily increased since 2001-02, the States’ share on the other hand has declined pari passu. As a result, the total expenditure of the Centre and States combined, has registered a modest decline from 3.81 per cent of GDP in 2001-02 to 3.78 per cent of GDP in 2008-09. As a proportion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), expenditure on education has hovered around 3 per cent during 2008-09 to 2014-15. Per capita public expenditure on education increased from Rs. 888 in 2004’05 to Rs. 2985 in 2011’12. The bulk of public spending on education is incurred by the State Governments At the state level, in 2013-14, the total state capital expenditure on education was Rs. 110,894 million of this, Tamil Nadu had the highest share in the expenditure of about 12 per cent, followed by Uttar Pradesh with a share of 8.67 per cent and Gujarat with 6.67 per cent. However, in terms of per student expenditure, Sikkim and Goa spent more than Rs. 2000, while Tamil Nadu spent about Rs. 726.

States such as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh spent as little as Rs. 37 and Rs. 40 per student respectively. Of aggregate public spending by the centre and the states, 35 per cent was accounted for by Plan expenditure and 65 per cent by non-Plan expenditure. About 43 per cent of the public expenditure on education was incurred for elementary education, 25 per cent for secondary education and the balance 32 per cent for higher education. About half of the Central Government’s expenditure was incurred for higher education and the remaining for elementary (39 per cent) and secondary (12 per cent) education. In the State sector, about 75 per cent of education expenditure is for school education, of which 44 per cent is on elementary education and 30 per cent on secondary education.

Elementary Education

Elementary education covers Classes I ‘ VIII. Classes I-V are called primary and Classes VI- VIII upper primary. However, in some States and UTs like Andhra Pradesh,’ Assam, Gujarat, Lakshadweep, Karnataka, Kerala,’ Maharashtra, Mizoram, Orissa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu and Goa, elementary education covers Classes I to VII.

Major schemes in Elementary Education include Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid-Day Meals in Schools, Mahila’ Samakhya, Teacher Education, Providing Quality Education in Madarsas, and Infrastructure Development in Minority Institutions.

Elementary Education (EE) Schemes at a Glance

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)

SSA launched in 2001-02 is implemented in partnership with the States and is the main vehicle for providing elementary education to all children in the 6-14 age-group:

Objectives of SSA

  • To provide universal elementary education
  • Universal access and retention
  • Bridging of gender and social category, gaps in EE
  • Significant enhancement in learning levels of children Universal


  • Universal
  • Targets geographical areas in districts and blocks with predominance of SC, ST, OBC, and minority populations (441 districts)

Mid Day Meals Scheme (MDMS)


  • Improving the nutritional status of children in Classes I ‘ VII
  • Encouraging poor children, belonging to disadvantaged sections, to attend schools more regularly and help them concentrate on classroom activities


  • Covers government, local body and government aided schools, and Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE Centers)

Teacher education


  • To create a sound institutional infrastructure for pre-service and in-service training of teachers
  • To provide academic resource support to elementary and secondary schools


  • Almost universal

Mahila Samakhya


  • To enhance the self-image and self-confidence of women
  • To create an environment where women can seek knowledge and information which empowers them to play a positive role in society


  • Ten states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttaranchal

Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madarsas (SPQEM)


  • To bring about qualitative improvement in madarsas and to introduce science, mathematics, social studies, Hindi, and English in the


  • The schemes will cover the entire country but it is voluntary for minority institutions to seek central assistance curriculum

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