The Education Minister, Dr. K.L. Shrimali, announced in the Lok Sabha on March 17 that the Centre had decided to give special assistance to backward States by allocating funds and additional teachers to speed up their progress in providing free and compulsory primary education to children between the ages of six and eleven. Dr. Shrimali said the assistance would be given in proportion to the backwardness as exhibited through the number of children in the 6-11 age group out of school, and the size of the population would also be taken into account. Dr. Shrimali disclosed that his Ministry proposed to carry out a nation-wide campaign to orient all elementary schools to the basic pattern and short training classes were expected to be organised. A minimum programme for basic education had been drawn up both in the rural and urban schools and it was hoped that during the next two or three years all elementary schools would be oriented to the basic pattern. The State Governments would receive 60 per cent financial assistance, he said.