Education in the primary segment is one of the most vital aspects in the overall development of a human being. It si alike the plinth on which th entire structure stands.As such the government of India lays special emphasis on primary education. It’s endeavors of banning child labor, making primary education free and compulsory up to the age of fourteen, stand in consonance to its commitment to make the nation 100% literate.
The District Primary Education Programme launched in 1994 was a right step in the direction. With the majority of funds(85%), contributed by the Central Government, the DPEP, sought to universalize primary education. Although it was successful in opening 160000 new schools including 84000 alternative education schools delivering alternative education to approximately 3.5 million children and achieving a high gross enrollment ratio of 93 – 95%, questions were raised about the overall quality.
The "Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan" or SSA was launched in 2001 to universalize to address to this issue and improve the quality of elementary education in India through community ownership of elementary education. In order to effectively decentralize the management, it has involved Panchayati Raj institutions, School Management Committees, Village and Urban Slum Level Education Committees, Parents' Teachers' Associations, Mother Teacher Associations, Tribal Autonomous Councils and other grassroots level structures. SSA, apart from being a programme with clear time frame for Elementary Education, also offers opportunities to the states to develop their own vision of elementary education. It has set 2007 as the deadline for providing primary education in India and 2010 as the deadline for providing useful and relevant elementary education to all children in the 6 to 14 age group. In order to improve the quality of elementary education in India, the SSA has emphasized on improving the student teacher ratio, teachers training, academic support, facilitating development of teaching learning material and providing textbooks to children from special focus groups etc.
Although positive results have started coming in form of rising literacy rate ( 65.38% according to 2001 census),the objective of universal education is still far way. Other genuine concerns pertaining to primary education are low female literacy rate (only 54.16%) and the over all gap between the urban and rural literacy rates.. While 80. 3% urban people are literate, only 59.4% of the rural population is literate according to 2001 census data.