The 1986 National Policy on Education (NPE) first emphasized universalization of
elementary education (UEE) as a national priority. Yet, despite a huge expansion
in India’s formal education system in the last few decades, there are still
roughly 50-60 million children out of school in the age group 6-14 years, or nearly
25 percent of total child population in the elementary age group.
The reasons for children being out-of-school are to do with lack of physical access
as well as social access. In several parts of the country, specially in small, remote
habitations, children still do not have access to schooling facilities and thus
remain out of school. Seasonal migration of families in search of work for several
months every year is another reason which deprives children the chance to go to
school. In addition, a sizeable proportion of children live in villages and habitations
where formal schools exist, but due to social reasons such as caste and gender they
are either not allowed to go to school, or not given the proper treatment in school.