As a direct result of different policies, declarations, and initiatives, India has made tremendous progress in the educational sector. India has gone from 79 percent of primary- school- age children in school in 1999 to 93 percent in 2010. With a population of 1.2 billion, India’s progress on access to education has made an important impact on global trends.

In order for India to lay the foundation for the next set of UN Millennium Development Goals, efforts to improve learning are critical, as recognized by the government in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17), given that many children are not meeting grade level expectations. The education sector is continuing to improve by addressing several key issues.

Quality: India has introduced a licensure system to standardize and improve teacher quality. However, there is a scope for improvement in preservice education in India, as shown by low pass rates (as low as 1 percent) among aspiring teachers taking the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) (Times of India 2013).

Enrollment: The government of India estimates that 3.1 million were out of school in 2012. Enrollment is a key challenge overall; out of all out of school children (OOSC), 76 percent are never enrolled in school. When examining the number of children categorized as child laborers and the number of children enrolled in school, there is a gap of 11.4 percent for girls and 3.8 percent for boys.

Equality: Out of all OOSC, 34 percent were estimated to have disabilities with 48 percent of those having mental disabilities (Indian Market Research Bureau 2011). Shortages of trained special educators and insufficient teacher capacity to work with these children will continue. Despite important gains in gender parity, girls, especially those from marginalized groups, still face challenges to their education. Many girls face risk of sexual and physical abuse as well as social pressures, especially related to child marriage, and this impedes their continued education.