New Delhi, Oct 3 (UNI) As many as ten million of India's 6-to-14-year-olds were still out of school at the last count in 2005, Minister of State for Human Resource Development D Purandareswari acknowledged today.
The acknowledgement came while she delivered a keynote address at the 4th International Conference of Asia Education Foundation and Field Work Programme at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.
The goal of universalisation of elementary education, something the country has chased since 1950 and had hoped to attain by 1960, has eluded till date.
Although , she said, there has been a steady decline in the number of out of school children-- from 39 million some years ago to 10 million in 2005.
She told participants, including 250 Australian delegates, that a national programme of nutritional support to primary education-- Mid-Day Meal scheme-- was launched on August 15, 1995 to boost Universal Primary Education.
In 2001-02, the Ministry launched its flagship Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan as a time-bound mission aimed at universalisation of elementary education and bridging gender and social gaps by 2010.
She said 100 per cent success in these schemes was yet to be achieved, although deficiencies are continuously monitored.
''The World Conference on Education for All held in Jomtien in 1990 set this process in motion by adopting that the goal of Universal Primary Education be achieved by 2000 AD.
''The World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000 reaffirmed and extended this commitment. Universal primary education with complete gender equity in primary and secondary education was affirmed again in the same year as Millennium Development Goal,'' she said.
She said the effort now was to effect a vocational bias at the end of secondary education, without which students simply pursue degrees, joining surplus manpower instead of meeting the nation's production requirements.
''India is emerging on the world stage as the largest economically powerful, culturally vibrant, multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy.
''With a population of over one billion people, an expanding middle-class of 300 million and GDP growth rate of nearly ten percent, India cannot be ignored,'' she asserted.
The 5-day event initiated by the Australian Government is also being attended by teachers, principals, administrators and teacher educators.