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Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)- Objectives, Function, Limitations

What is Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)?

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is an important program of the Indian government that started in 2001. Its main goal is to make sure that every child gets elementary education. The government made a law that says all kids between 6 to 14 years old have the right to free and compulsory education under Article 21 A of the Indian Constitution. SSA works to fulfill this right within a set time.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in the Government of India has been in charge of the SSA Program since 2000-2001. This article provides essential information about Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) for the IAS Exam’s GS-II notes.

Objectives of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

  • The SSA’s primary goal is to offer free and mandatory education to children aged 6 to 14.
  • It ensures access to quality elementary education for all children, striving to eliminate gender and social disparities in education.
  • The program focuses on equal opportunities for every child, aiming to improve education quality through:
  • Providing adequate infrastructure and facilities in schools.
  • Promoting innovative teaching methods.
  • Enhancing the skills and training of teachers.
  • The SSA actively identifies and enrolls out-of-school children in an effort to address this issue.
  • The program encourages the active involvement of parents, local communities, and stakeholders in planning, implementing, and monitoring education programs.
  • A holistic education approach is emphasized, aiming for the all-round development of children.
  • The SSA establishes a robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism to assess the progress and impact of its initiatives.

Achievement of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

  • Elementary school enrollment has significantly increased from 18.79 crores in 2009-10 to 19.67 crores in 2015-16.
  • The Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) has seen improvement, decreasing from 32 in 2009-10 to 25 in 2015-16.
  • According to UDISE, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) stands at 99.21% for the primary level and 92.81% for the upper primary level.
  • The number of out-of-school students has consistently decreased, dropping from 134.6 lakh in 2005 to 81 lakh in 2009 and further to 60.64 lakh in 2015.
  • The Gender Parity Index (GPI) has reached 0.93 for the primary level and 0.95 for the upper primary level.

Functions of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

The primary objectives of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan encompass:

  • Promoting social justice through the provision of fundamental education for children.
  • Addressing the need to enhance educational standards in response to demand.
  • Creating a favorable and accessible environment for the acquisition of basic education.
  • Elevating India’s literacy rates through the universalization of elementary education.
  • Empowering teachers by providing intensive training and keeping them abreast of the latest teaching materials and aids, thereby enhancing their capacity.

Limitations of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

  • Despite the provision of free education, textbooks, and uniforms, many parents in various regions of India, particularly in remote areas, hesitate to enroll their children in schools.
  • While the government offers free education, additional expenses, especially burdensome for economically disadvantaged families, deter them from sending their children to school.
  • According to the ASER report by NGO Pratham, 78% of Class III students and 50% of Class IV students struggle to read Class II-level text.
  • Meeting the pupil-teacher ratio as per RTE norms faces a critical shortage of approximately 6,89,000 teachers.
  • Inadequate accountability in the SSA results in low attendance and subpar learning outcomes.
  • Despite a significant dropout rate, 1.4 million students still discontinue their education between the ages of 6-11 years.

Convergence of Different Ministries & Schemes

Bringing together programs and actions from various Ministries/Departments is a fundamental principle in carrying out Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to reach its goals. The schemes/programs from other ministries/departments that have been recognized to align with SSA are listed below:

  1. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW):
    – Deliver services to the Model Cluster School.
    – Conduct routine general health check-ups through Government hospitals, referral hospitals, or PHC.
  2. Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD):
    – Expand the Mid-day Meal Scheme to all eligible schools.
    – Support age-appropriate admissions.
    – National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)
  3. Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD):
    – Facilitate pre-school learning and enrollment.
    – Extend Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) benefits to enrolled school children.
  4. State PWDs:
    – Provide geospatial technologies for school mapping and social mapping exercises at the grassroots level.
  5. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoSJ& E and MOTA):
    – Converge funds to construct residential facilities.

SSA and District Primary Education Programme (DPEP)

The initiation of the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) took place in 1994, serving as a centrally-sponsored scheme designed to rejuvenate the primary education system. Pioneering the goal of universalizing elementary education, DPEP employed an area-specific strategy, utilizing a district as the primary unit for planning.

Key features of District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) include:

  • 85 percent of the project cost was supported by the Central Government, with the remaining 15 percent provided by the respective State Government.
  • This program extended its coverage to 18 states.
  • International organizations such as the World Bank, UNICEF, etc., offered external assistance to the Central Government in implementing DPEP.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan – Universalization of Elementary Education

Several Constitutional, national, and legal policies and declarations supporting Universal Elementary Education (UEE) include:

  • Constitutional mandate: The state is obligated to strive for the provision of free and compulsory education for all children until they complete 14 years of age, as enshrined in the Right to Education. This became a Fundamental Right through the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002.
  • National Policy of Education, 1986: This policy also aspired to deliver quality education to children up to the age of 14 years, emphasizing both access and retention in schools.
  • Supreme Court: The Supreme Court affirmed the right of every child in the country to receive free education until reaching the age of 14, as established in the Unnikrishnan Case of 1993.

Initiatives under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

Here are some recent initiatives introduced under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan:

Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat:

  • Launched in 2014 to enhance the reading and writing skills of Class I and Class II students.
  • Aims to instill the joys of reading and writing by presenting them from a real-life perspective.


  • Initiated in 2017 to address the challenge of out-of-school children.
  • Offers a range of interventions to reintegrate these children into the school system.

Samagra Shiksha:

  • Launched in 2018 to streamline various education schemes under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
  • Aims to provide comprehensive education from early childhood to the secondary level.

Digital Shiksha:

  • Introduced in 2020 to deliver digital learning solutions to students.
  • Provides access to online courses, e-books, and other digital resources.

Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyan:

  • Launched in 2021 to foster innovation and entrepreneurship among school children.
  • Offers a platform for students to showcase their innovative ideas and projects.

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What is the main objective of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan?

The core objective of the SSA Programme is to attain the Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) in the country. The overall goal of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is to include universal access and retention, bridging gender and social gaps in education and enhancing levels of learning for children.

When was the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan launched?

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was launched in the year 2001 under the regulation of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India.

What is the Universalization of Elementary Education?

UEE or Universalization of Elementary Education intends to ensure that quality education is provided to every individual in the country, without any discrimination. UEE denotes universalization of provision, enrolment, retention, participation, and achievement.

What is Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan?

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan is a mission-mode project that aims to ensure the universalization of elementary education in a time-bound manner.

Who introduced SSA in India?

SSA was introduced in India in 2001, by the then Prime Minister if India i.e Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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