In line with the global trend of treating school education holistically – without its segmentation in the four levels of pre-primary, primary & upper primary together termed elementary, secondary, and higher secondary level – an overarching programme of Samagra Shiksha (Integrated Education) is being implemented since 2018 for improving school effectiveness in terms of equal opportunities and equitable learning outcomes. It subsumes existing Centrally-sponsored schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, and Teacher Education.
In order to help harmonise implementation mechanisms and transaction costs at all levels, the shift in the focus of Integrated Education is from project objectives to improving systems level performance and learning outcomes and incentivising states to improve quality of education. This is in accordance with SDG 4.1, which strives to “ensure (by 2030) that all boys and girls complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes”.
The fund-sharing pattern between the Centre and the states is in the ratio of 90:10 for NE & Himalayan states and 60:40 for other states and UTs with legislature, and 100 per cent for UTs without legislature. Interventions include universal access with infrastructure development & retention; gender & equity; inclusive education; quality; financial support for teacher salary; digital initiatives; RTE entitlements including uniforms, textbooks etc; preschool education; vocational education; sports & physical education; strengthening of teacher education & training; monitoring & programme management; preference to educationally backward blocks and Left wing extremism-affected districts, Special Focus Districts, Border Areas, and 117 Aspirational Districts.
The main emphasis is on improving quality of school education by focusing on teacher and technology and giving flexibility to states/UTs to prioritise their interventions within scheme norms and resource envelope. Funds are allocated on objective criteria of enrolment of students, committed liabilities, learning outcomes and performance indicators. Integration of teacher education would facilitate convergence between different support structures.
To ensure the success of Samagra Shiksha, Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN) scheme provides one hotcooked meal in Govt and Govt-aided schools, popularly known as MidDay Meal Scheme, covering 11.8 crore children studying in 11.2 lakh elementary schools (Classes I-VIII). The scheme is being extended to pre-primary or Balvatikas in Govt and Govt-aided primary schools.
PM POSHAN encourages Tithi Bhojan, where local people provide special food to children on special occasions, and Nutrition Gardens in schools giving children first-hand experience with nature & gardening. The success of interventions under the scheme is indicated by improvement in retaining more children. Gross Enrolment Ratio, which compares enrolment in a specific level of education to population of age-group most ageappropriate for that level of education, made significant improvement. Latest Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) data (2021-22) indicates improvement in overall school infrastructure in terms of availability of electricity, drinking water, computers, internet, and toilets for children with special needs. Pupil-teacher ratio improved between 2019-19 and 2021-22 across all levels of school education. The level of participation in improved in 2021-22. UDISE+ data reveals that total students enrolled from primary to higher secondary stood at 25.57 crore in 2021-22 compared to 25.38 crore in 2020-21, an increase of 19.3 lakh including over 8.0 lakh girls.
GER of higher secondary education improved from 53.8 pc in 2020-21 to 57.6 pc in 2021-22. Gender Parity Index values at all levels of school education improved to 1:0 or above 1:0 implying more participation of girls. In 2021-22, over 12.3 crore girls enrolled in schools, an increase of 8.2 lakh over 2020-21.
The modified scheme of Integrated Education is also designed to usher in community involvement and smooth integration of technology for ensuring completion of school education for all children.