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FAQs: India's Education for All Program

1. What is India's Education for All program - also known as SSA - about? 

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) - or Education for All – is India’s flagship elementary education program. It aims to enroll all 6-14 year-olds in school by 2010, and have all of them complete grade 8 with appropriate learning levels.

With over 194 million children in some 1.1 million habitations to be brought into the fold of education, the SSA is one of the largest programs of its kind in the world. The Government of India is putting major financial and technical resources into the program.

2. What kind of support is the World Bank providing to the SSA?

The SSA program, for which the major funding comes from the Government of India, is collectively supported by the World Bank, UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), and the European Community. Among these, the World Bank is the single largest contributor.

In the first phase of support between 2003 and 2006, the World Bank contributed $500 million of the total program cost of $3.5 billion. The project, which coincides with India’s 11th Plan, is now in the second phase of support from India’s development partners.

In the second phase of support, the World Bank is contributing US$ 600 million through the Second Elementary Education Project. The project was signed with the Government of India on August 14, 2008.

The total cost of SSA II is estimated at US$10.7 billion. Of this, the Government of India will contribute around 55%, India’s States will contribute about 35%, and the development partners (including the World Bank) approximately 10%. 

World Bank lending for the program is on concessional terms with the first ten years as a “grace” period when no repayment is required.

3. What did SSA 1 achieve?


Rapid expansion of primary school facilities: The first phase of SSA saw a rapid expansion of primary school facilities across the country, especially in remote and socially disadvantaged areas. Over 200,000 new schools were set up.  


Huge increase in enrollment: There was a huge increase in elementary school enrollment with over 21 million children additionally enrolled. Access for children from marginalized groups, minorities, extremely poor households, and educationally and economically lagging states increased.

Reduction in out-of-school children: The number of out-of-school children was reduced from 25 million to about 4.5 million between 2003 and 2008, according to Government of India figures. The biggest reduction took place in Bihar (1.1 million) and West Bengal (0.9 million). The total number of districts with more than 50,000 out of school children reduced from 48 in 2005 to only 6 in 2008.

Narrowing of gender gaps: The share of girls enrolled in public schools is now slightly higher than their share in the population, according to Government statistics.

Better transition rates: More children went from primary school to upper primary levels. Transition rates increased from 75 percent in 2002 to 83 percent in 2006.

4. What is the focus of SSA II?


Improving the quality of education: With greater numbers of children entering school, SSA II focuses on improving the quality of education provided and raising learning outcomes. Low quality of schools and teaching not only leads to low learning levels, but also results in poor attendance, greater dropouts, and poor transition to higher grades.

Reaching the hardest-to-reach children: SSA II focuses on bringing the hardest-to-reach children into school – especially girls, SC, ST, minorities, the urban poor and children of migrant workers. Efforts have been intensified in 55 districts across the country which have more than 20,000 out-of- school children each. Most of these districts are in UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Muslim girls, and boys and girls from tribal communities, have been identified as groups for special focus.

Expanding access to upper primary school: SSA II is aiming to ensure that at least one upper primary school facility exists for every three primary schools, so that children in all states can complete their elementary schooling upto grades 7/8.

The SSA II has increased its focus on teacher accountability and envisages an expanded role for communities to monitor quality and learning levels.

5. What is different about this World Bank project from other World Bank lending?


In SSA II (as in SSA I), the World Bank and other development partners are using the Government of India’s own financial management and procurement systems to disburse funds. This not only helps to strengthen the government’s financial management systems but also helps to ensure that all project funds, amounting to a total of almost US$ 11 billion, are spent more efficiently.

6. How is the quality of learning being monitored and measured?

National Achievement Assessment Surveys are being conducted at grades 3, 5, 7 and 8. In addition to national testing by NCERT, a growing number of states are monitoring their students’ overall achievement levels – primarily math and language skills.

In SSA II, the development partners have provided a Technical Cooperation Fund - through DFID - to help strengthen the capacity of national and state level institutions in assessing learning levels and evaluating quality improvement initiatives.


Last updated: 2008-08-14

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