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1.1.1. Secondary Education is a crucial stage in the educational hierarchy as it prepares the students for higher education and also for the world of work. Classes IX and X constitute the secondary stage, whereas classes XI and XII are designated as the higher secondary stage. The normal age group of the children in secondary classes is 14-16 whereas it is 16-18 for higher secondary classes. The rigor of the secondary and higher secondary stage, enables Indian students to compete successfully for education and for jobs globally. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to strengthen this stage by providing greater access and also by improving quality in a significant way. 1.1.2. The population of the age group 14-18 was 8.55 crore in 2001 as per census data. The estimated population of this age group as on 1.3.2005 was 9.48 crore, which is likely to increase to 9.69 crore as on 1.3.2007 i.e., at the beginning of the 11th Five Year Plan. This is likely to stabilize at around 9.70 crore in 2011. The Gross Enrolment Ratio for classes IX-XII in 2005-06 was 40.49%. The figure for classes IX and X was 52.26 % whereas that for classes XI and XII was 28.54%. 1.1.3. With the liberalization and globalization of the Indian economy, the rapid changes witnessed in scientific and technological world and the general need to improve the quality of life and to reduce poverty, it is essential that school leavers acquire a higher level of knowledge and skills than what they are provided in the 8 years of elementary education, particularly when the average earning of a secondary school certificate holder is significantly higher than that of a person who has studied only up to class VIII. It is also necessary that besides general education up to secondary level, opportunities for improvement of vocational knowledge and skill should be provided at the higher secondary level to enable some students to be employable. 1.1.4. Since universalisation of elementary education has become a Constitutional mandate, it is absolutely essential to push this vision forward to move towards Universalisation of secondary education, which has already been achieved in a large number of developed countries and several developing countries. Paras 5.13 – 5.15 of the National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986 (as modified in 1992) deal with Secondary Education. Para 5.13 of the NPE, inter- alia, stated that “Access to Secondary Education will be widened with emphasis on enrolment of girls, SCs and STs, particularly in science, commerce and vocational streams……. Vocationalization through specialized institutions or through the re-fashioning of secondary education will, at this stage, provide valuable manpower for economic growth”.

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1.1.5. Hon’ble Prime Minister in his Independence Day Speech, 2007 has inter-alia stated that, “We are setting out a goal of universalizing secondary education. This is clearly the nest step after universalizing elementary education. While the goal is laudable much work needs to be done before we are in a position to launch the Scheme for Universalisation of Access for Secondary Education (SUCCESS). Its details need to be quickly spelt out and discussed with States so that we are fully ready to launch it from 2008-09. We must not underestimate the complexity of this task as the principles for universalizing elementary education cannot be easily transferred to secondary education. The physical, financial, pedagogical and human resource needs are quite different. We also need to recognize the role currently being played by the private sector and policy design must factor this in. Detailed strategies and plans would need to be worked out rapidly for each state. Special attention would need to be paid to Districts with SC/ST/OBC/Minority...
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