Evidence establishing the signi?cant impact of education on social and economic progress has fuelled global efforts to increase equitable educational access as exempli?ed in the Education for All (EFA 1990) movement and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (2000) strategy. These initiatives have resulted in signi?cantly improved educational enrolment rates for both boys and girls, particularly at primary level. While overall access to education has increased, targeted programming within and beyond educational institutions is needed to ensure greater equity across gender (and other) divides, particularly at the secondary level. Data from UNESCO (2012) illustrate the extent of this challenge. A majority (56%) of the world’s children live in countries that have achieved gender parity at the primary level, but the proportion drops signi?cantly (29%) at the lower secondary level, and even further (to just 15%) at the upper secondary level. India’s secondary education system exempli?es this trend. The country has reportedly achieved near-universal enrolment at the primary level through massive infrastructural development, teacher training and community mobilization. These changes were mandated under the 2009 Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (SSA), the government’s ?agship programme for achievement of universalization of elementary education. Retention at the upper primary level and ensuring universal transition to the secondary are among the next big challenges. Other major challenges beyond the scope of this paper include improving education quality and learning outcomes.
Kelly, Orla, and Jacqueline Bhabha. "Beyond the Education Silo? Tackling Adolescent Secondary Education in Rural India." Neoliberalism and Education. Ed. Kalwant Bhopal and Farzana Shain. Routledge, 2017, 99-120.