India is a nation of young people with 0.672 billion people in the age group of 15-64 years. This is treated as the working age population. In the year 2001 11% of population of the country was in the age group of 18-24 years which is expected to go up to more than 12% of the 11th Five Year Plan.This large population should be considered as an invaluable human resource and should be provided the necessary skills so as to empower them to lead a purposeful life and contribute to our national economy.
With the enactment of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 and the fact that Article 21-A of the Constitution of India became operative it is expected that issues of drop out, out of school children, quality of education and availability of trained teachers would be addressed appropriately in the short to medium term. The Act makes it incumbent on governments to provide free and compulsory education to all children of 6-14 years of age.
India is committed to the goal of universal elementary education for all children. This goal is part of the Education for All goals adopted at the World Education Forum Dakar in April 2000.The EFA goals include inter alia achieving universal elementary education by the year 2015 ensuring equitable access to appropriate learning and life skill programmes for young people and adults achieving 50% improvement in adult literacy by 2015,achieving gender equality in education by 2015 and improving all aspects of quality of education.
Universalization of elementary education has been achieved to some extent in terms of access to schooling and improvement in gross enrolment ratio, especially girls and those belonging to the marginalized groups. Gender parity especially at the elementary stage has improved. This has been the result of large number of programmes initiated specifically for education of girls and focus on disabled children, minorities and marginal groups and in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
SSA works to improve the quality of elementary education and subject to certain norms provides for opening of new primary schools and up gradation of primary schools to upper primary schools.
Adult education of women has received impetus with the launch of Saakshar Bharat a centrally sponsored scheme. The objective of the scheme is to impart functional literacy to 70 million adults in the age –group of 15-35 years by 2012 out of which 60 million will be women and special attention will be given to the disadvantaged and marginalized social groups. These programmes aims to further promote and strengthen adult education especially for women by extending educational options to those adults having lost the opportunity of access to formal education and crossed the standard age for receiving such education and now feel a need for acquiring literacy ,basic education and vocational education.