In its effort to create a closer link between education and the life of people, the NPE had envisaged a two-pronged strategy:
First, the removal of disparities in access and the second the equalisation of opportunities through affirmative action programmes. These programmes would be specifically tailored to address the specific needs of those denied equality to date.
India is already home to the largest number of illiterates in the world. Of the 263 million illiterate Indians, 197 million are women. The literacy rate differential is also reflected in all other human development indicators. Women's access to health care, adequate nutrition, sanitation facilities, clean drinking water is significantly less than men's access.
Reflective of the low status of women is the most sensitive indicator of human development, the infant mortality rate. India has a skewed sex ratio, with 829 women to 1000 men in some parts of the country. During the field surveys for the gender studies, researchers found in some blocks of Haryana, sex ratios of 500 girls to 1000 boys in the age group 0-6 years.
Development thinkers across the ideological spectrum agree that education is one of the most significant factors in changing the status of women. The skewed sex ratio and the high infant mortality rate are as much a cause as an effect of the disparity in educational opportunities between boys and girls. According to the 1991 census, the female literacy rate at 39.42 per cent is bout two-thirds the literacy rate of men at 63.86 per cent.
It is recognised that in rural India, of every 100 girls who enrolled in Class I only 1 entered Class XII. In urban areas, the situation is slightly better with 14 girls of every 100 making it to Class XII. A Empowering the Girl