Santosh Panda and Suresh Garg
The Jomtien World Conference on Education for All (EFA) in 1990 called for massive initiatives by both government and non-government organizations to accelerate the pace of implementation of basic education for all, and adopt open and distance learning (ODL) and non-formal education strategies to achieve the goal of functional literacy by all. Even before 1990, India had hosted many international meetings/conferences/round tables on EFA, and several policy initiatives emanated as a result of these efforts. India is also signatory to the E-9 Summit resolution of 1993, with its resolve to launch joint initiatives to take education to the marginalized and the disadvantaged. Though the goal of universal elementary education for the age group 6-14 years has been enshrined in the constitution, it has not been realized so far. Further, legislation enacted in 2001 by the Indian Parliament made free universal elementary education a fundamental right. This chapter is presented against this background, and examines the contribution of ODL to EFA and at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels in the largest democracy in the world.