This working paper examines the record of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s first five years in power with regard to provisioning in the educational sector. The focus of the paper is to evaluate whether there was any distinctive shift under the UPA or whether these years simply witnessed a reassertion of programmes set out by previous governments. The paper begins with a review of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) where the UPA pledged to raise public spending in education to at least 6% of GDP with at least half this amoung being spent on primary and secondary sectors. It goes on to examine the specific educational programmes that were introduced by the UPA in relation to existing frameworks initiated by the previous NDA government. The paper finds that the first term of the UPA government was marked more by legislative and administrative changes rather than by programme achievements. The rather limited advances made in education indicate that while there was an intention to ensure social transformation through improving educational access, marginal groups continue to be excluded from education. This may become a major obstacle in achieving the inclusive development that the UPA has adopted as its distinctive policy objective, and it appears to indicate that the financial and policy promises of the CMP have yet to be kept. The paper concludes that the innovations in the legal and implementing frameworks will remain only a tantalizing possibility unless there is a far greater emphasis on institutional delivery.
RECOUP Working Paper No. 35, October 2010, Centre for Education and International Development, University of Cambridge, UK, 21 pp.