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Modi donates Rs 21L for education of daughters of Guj drivers, peons

Girl Child Education

23-05-2014

The Indian Express

Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi has donated Rs 21 lakh from his personal savings for the education of daughters of drivers and peons working with the Gujarat government.

In posts on social networking site Twitter, he said educating the girl child is an issue which is very close to him.

“As CM, I always looked forward to Kanya Kelavani Abhiyan across Gujarat….Before leaving Gujarat, I gave Rs 21 lakh from my personal savings to educate daughters of drivers and peons working with Gujarat Government,” he tweeted.

In another tweet, Modi expressed optimism that “this small contribution will be a part of a corpus fund that will hopefully grow in future and empower our daughters”.

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The kidnapped Nigerian girls show that religious conservatives hate education

Access to education, Girl Child Education

02-05-2014

The Guardian

No girl should be a hero for getting an education. But for many girls around the world, walking through the schoolhouse doors isn’t a right or an assumption: it’s a victory over conservative fanatics – some of whom carry guns.

The latest story of girls violently denied an education comes out of Nigeria, and is particularly horrific: more than 300 schoolgirls, abducted at gunpoint by a militant religious fundamentalist group opposed to Western education and intent on bringing terror to their country. There are reports that the girls were forced (or sold) into marriages, raped and taken to other countries.

International outrage has been slow to build, but it’s coming now – the story has been covered extensively in the media, and girls’ education proponent and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai spoke out against the abductions. Nigerians are marching in the streets demanding the girls be brought home alive. #BringBackOurGirls is trending on Twitter.

On the surface, these kidnappings follow a theme we’ve seen across the globe: religious extremists don’t want to see girls getting the kind of education that will allow them to enter the workforce, because they correctly understand that education sets girls on a path to economic independence and self-reliance. Education also makes girls (and women) less dependent on men, less subservient to authority and less acquiescent to the social and religious strictures that don’t serve girls’ overall interests – educated women are more likely to refuse practices like female genital cutting, for instance, better able to resist domestic violence, and less tolerant of discrimination at home and in society.

Boko Haram, the Nigerian Muslim militant group linked to al-Qaida that allegedly carried out this latest kidnapping, adopted a name meaning, “Western education is sinful.” There’s no question that the schoolgirls were targeted precisely because they were in school.

But it’s also a mistake to assume that these abductions are just about keeping girls from school. The Nigerian kidnappings are also about power and the simple incoherency of cyclical violence. And the response is indeed about gender, but not through the usual lens: the slow build to media attention illustrates the ease with which so many of us view white girls as inherently vulnerable but have a harder time imagining black girls the same way – and black boys an ocean away don’t even register.

In February, Boko Haram militants murdered 59 schoolboys. They separated the boys from the girls, telling the girls to abandon school and get married before sending them home, and then slaughtered the boys. That killing spree was just one in dozens of attacks on schools, houses of worship and random civilians.

It’s laudable that both the international media and social media users on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are finally paying attention to a group that has murdered thousands of Nigerians. And it’s understandable that the kidnapping of schoolgirls was the catalyst – the sheer number of girls kidnapped coupled with the fact that they’re children should have us collectively frothing with outrage. But we should have gotten there sooner.

“When these things happen again and again, you get inured to them quickly; it becomes one giant cycle of madness,” Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi told me. “But I’ve never seen this kind of outrage before. It does seem like for the first time in a long time, people are deeply disturbed by what’s happened.”

Foreign governments, journalists and activists have an opportunity here to push back on a bloody, oppressive force wreaking havoc across Nigeria. Nigerian writers and activists have sounded the alarm about the totality of the horrors committed by Boko Haram – and they’re pressuring their government to act. Those of us who live in the United States and Europe can do the same and demand that our leaders offer assistance, support and, crucially, technology to help track the girls down.

But any opportunity to assist with the larger problems facing Nigeria will be lost if the push begins and ends with the kidnapped girls.

“My fear is that this will become another Kony 2012 where the context and the nuance gets lost,” Tolu Ogunlesitold me, referring to the viral social media campaign centered on Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. “Hopefully the girls are all going to be safe and fine. But even if they get back home, it’s still far from the end.”

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CBSE Class 12 results: girls outshine boys

Girl Child Education, Learning Achievements

NDTV

Edited by Amit Chaturvedi

May 27, 2013

New Delhi: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) today declared the results of Class 12. The pass percentage was 82.10 per cent, up from last year’s 80.19 per cent.

87 per cent girls have passed the exam; boys lag behind with a pass percentage of 77.

Among the regions, Chennai once again put up the best performance with a pass percentage of 91.83.

The Class 12 board exams were conducted between March 1 and April 17 this year.

In total 9,44,721 candidates were registered for Class 12 examination this year, an increase of about 15.81% candidates over last year.

The results this year in particular assumes significance for students who aspire to make it to the IITs as weightage is given for the Class XII performance.

Accordingly, the cut off score for the top 20 percentile will be 391 for general category students this year, the statement said. For OBC, it will be 389, SC 350 and ST 338.

Rank holders in the JEE advance under the new format must be among the top 20 performers for admission to the IITs.

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Top school scraps 11-plus over ‘endemic’ tutoring culture

Girl Child Education, Global news, UK

By , Education Editor

The Telegraph

15May 2013

One of England’s top performing grammar schools is to scrap its entrance exam amid fears the 11-plus is being undermined by an “endemic” culture of tutoring.

Chelmsford County High School for Girls will introduce a new selection system from September to stop middle-class parents subjecting children to up to six years’ worth of coaching in preparation for the admissions test.

Nicole Chapman, the headmistress, said the existing 11-plus “discourages girls whose parents can’t afford tutoring” from even applying to the school.

The comments represent the latest in a series of attacks on the private tutoring industry which some experts claim is damaging children’s education by subjecting them to “far too much” pressure at a young age.

One study last year suggested more than half of parents who put sons and daughters through school admissions tests pay for an academic coach or private tutoring company, while thousands more invest in revision books or past papers to give children the edge.

Chelmsford County High – traditionally rated among the top 10 schools in England for GCSE and A-level results – has normally relied on a series of entrance tests set as part of a consortium of grammar schools across Essex.

But the school, which receives around seven applications for every place, is now breaking away from other local schools to run its own “tutor proof” test.

It follows similar moves by schools in Buckinghamshire and the London borough of Bexley.

Council officials in Kent, which has more grammar schools than any other country, are also reviewing the entrance exam sat by local pupils.

Mrs Chapman said: “What we have seen develop across the whole country, not just Essex, is a culture of tutoring and coaching that has reached such high proportions that I have been made aware that it really discourages girls whose parents can’t afford to have tutoring or coaching from even applying.

“On a Saturday morning you can have your child coached while you do your shopping in Sainsbury’s.

“I’ve also heard of little children who are getting up to have coaching before they go to school. No child should be put under this amazing pressure to perform.”

From September, Chelmsford County High will switch to dedicated exams prepared by Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, which is supposed to distinguish between an average child with coaching and a naturally bright classmate.

It uses less predictable questions and past papers are not available to enable children to revise in advance.

Mrs Chapman added: “Coaching is endemic, absolutely. It leads to social exclusion because parents assume it is a requirement. I have heard it anecdotally that parents say ‘oh no, you can’t possibly apply because you have to be coached to get in to that school’.

“Some parents start their children at the age of five. They have six years worth of additional training.”

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Educating the Muslim girl child – in a Mughal-era structure

Girl Child Education, Minority Education

By Meha Mathur

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

India Forum

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Functioning in a Mughal-era structure near Jama Masjid in the capital’s old quarters is the Balak Mata Centre of Jamia Millia Islamia, one of India’s oldest universities. The centre, located in Matia Mahal, provides education and vocational training to deprived Muslim girls and women.

 

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Functioning in a Mughal-era structure near Jama Masjid in the capital’s old quarters is the Balak Mata Centre of Jamia Millia Islamia, one of India’s oldest universities. The centre, located in Matia Mahal, provides education and vocational training to deprived Muslim girls and women.

The centre runs from a two-storeyed structure, which, according to a DDA Urban Heritage Certificate Award given in 1993, was used by emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666) as a “home” while the Red Fort was being built. At one point of time, a Mughal prince’s begum used it as her residence. Later, the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, gave it to one of his grandsons.

The building, which has undergone many alterations, follows the traditional Indian architectural pattern of a courtyard surrounded by rooms on three sides.

The concept of Balak Mata Centre emerged in the late 1930s under the aegis of the torchbearers of Jamia – Zakir Husain, M. Mujeeb, Abid Hussain and Shafiqur Rehman Kidwai – who felt it was necessary to bring women and girls out of homes and provide them education. It originally started from Karol Bagh, from where Jamia was then functioning out of a few bungalows.

There are three branches of the centre – in Matia Mahal, Sadar Bazar and Pul Bangash – running today, providing schooling to girls till Class 5. The centre also provides skill-based programmes in computers, textile designing, cutting and tailoring and beauty therapy to women in the neighbourhood to make them employable.

A dark and narrow bylane leads to the nondescript entrance of the centre and but for a small signboard, it’s easy to miss it. Inside, the classrooms are airy and have colourful furniture in accordance with modern tastes, a few small slides and a merry-go-round. There is a dedicated lab for the computer course and a sewing unit for the cutting-tailoring course.

Centre director Yasmeen Parveen says that her team has to make a great effort to convince people to let girls and women come out of their homes. “Even today, the situation is that they don’t want to come out of their homes. We have had to do a door-to-door survey to identify the needy children and women,” Parveen told IANS.

Parveen and her team also keep a tab of students’ needs. In fact, she and her colleagues say that there are instances when a child does not get her first meal even when she returns home. In such situations, the teachers have often pooled in to help.

In addition to education and skill-development programmes, the Centre conducts health awareness drives, literacy melas, adolescent camps for young girls, and extension lectures on community needs, drawing experts from within Jamia Millia Islamia and outside.

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Girls get preference under Right to Education Act in Maharashtra

Girl Child Education, Right to Education

MUMBAI: Girls will get preference in admission to schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. This will be done as part of the 25%reservation for economically weaker section (EWS) and socially disadvantaged group (SDG) students, said sources.

A proposal to this effect was approved at a cabinet meeting in Mantralaya on Wednesday.
In a related development, the cabinet approved the definition of EWS. According to this, children of families with an annual income of Rs 1 lakh will be considered under the EWS quota; a similar income slab will apply to the SDGs as well. However, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students have been exempted from this slab as no income limit has been determined for them. A detailed government notification is expected to be issued on Thursday or Friday, it is learnt.
A senior Mantralaya official said: “If a school has 100 seats at the entry level, 25 will be reserved for EWS students under the RTE Act. Of these, five seats will be available for SC/ST students, according to a constitutional provision for 20% reservation for these communities.”

“The cabinet decision will give girls preference over boys,” the official said.

So, what will be the quantum of quota for girls? If there are 25 seats available under the RTE Act and an equal number (20) of applicants among boys and girls, then, under the approved system, 20 seats will be given to girl applicants. For the remaining five seats, there will be a lottery among the applications received from boys. “If the number of applications from girls is more than the seats available, the lottery will be held among the girls. The boys will have no scope then,” the official explained.
According to the Supreme Court’s orders, all schools barring unaided minority institutes will have to reserve 25% of entry-level seats for EWS students under the RTE Act. The state government will reimburse a school nearly Rs 10,000 per child per annum. The school management has to bear the remaining expenditure.
The government has appointed Sanjay Deshmukh, director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, as the nodal officer for implementation of the RTE Act.

The Times of India, 24 May 2012

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Free Bicycles Help Keep Indian Girls in School

Access to education, Girl Child Education, Scholarship

The daily trip to high school was expensive, long and eventually, too much for Indian teenager Nahid Farzana, who decided she was going to drop out. Then, the state government gave her a bicycle.
Two years later, she is about to graduate from high school and wants to be a teacher.
The eastern state of Bihar has been so successful at keeping teenage girls in school, the bike giveaways have spread to neighboring states. Now the Indian government wants to expand it across the country in hopes it might help improve female literacy.
Before starting the program in 2007, officials in Bihar, one of India’s poorest and least developed states, despaired over how to educate the state’s females, whose literacy rate of 53 percent is more than 20 points below that of its males.
“We found that the high school dropout rate soared when girls reached the ninth grade. This was primarily because there are fewer high schools and girls had to travel longer distances to get to school,” said Anjani Kumar Singh, Bihar’s principal secretary overseeing education.
Poor families could not spare the money for transport, or were reluctant to let girls travel so far away, fearing for their safety.
The program was an instant success, with the number of girls registered in the ninth grade in Bihar’s state schools more than tripling in four years, from 175,000 to 600,000.
“The results are remarkable. The school dropout rate for girls has plunged,” says Singh.
In her crisply starched blue tunic uniform and white scarf, Farzana appears a carefree teenager, proud to have made it into the tenth grade. But she almost did not make it.
Her daily bus fare of 15 rupees (22 cents) to the new high school 6 kilometers (4 miles) from their home in Rampur Singhara village was an additional burden her father, a car mechanic, could not afford.
“I wouldn’t have been able to keep Farzana in school for long,” said Mohammed Shiraz Ahmad, her father.
A teacher told them about the free bicycles, and Farzana applied for the 2,500 rupee ($50) grant to buy the bike.
“The bicycle has changed everything,” Ahmad said.
In remote villages, along dusty potholed lanes surrounded by sheaves of waving wheat, gaggles of school girls can be seen jauntily cycling to school.
The program has also raised the status of girls, who are often seen as a burden in son-obsessed India, where parents have to pay such hefty dowries to marry off their daughters that the family is often indebted for decades.
Now, girls are bringing an asset to the family, Singh said.
Mohammed Jalaluddin, who runs a tea stall in Rampur Singhara, says his daughter’s bike is used by the entire family.
Nizhat Parveen, his 16-year-old daughter, drops her brother at his school on the way to hers. When she returns, the family uses the bicycle for chores, from shopping for groceries to making food deliveries from the tea shop.
Bihar is also giving free school uniforms to girls to keep them in school. The bike grant money is put into a joint bank account in the names of the student and her parents, and school administrators monitor whether the girls buy bicycles and use them, or if the bike is sold and the girl ends up leaving school, Singh said. But mostly, the program operates on the honor system.
While corruption and fraudulent use of state money is rife in India, the Bihar government reports misuse of the bicycle funds is 1 percent.
The results from Bihar were so encouraging that the program has been adopted by the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Rajasthan, another state with low female literacy rates, has launched a free bicycle program for girls in secondary and high school.
The federal government is exploring a plan to give bicycles to Muslim girls as their dropout rate is worse than that of other communities.
The bicycle program “has worked very well,” says Syeda Hameed, a member of India’s powerful Planning Commission body.
Hameed said the body is also looking at other factors that affect school attendance by girls in the higher classes, such as the lack of toilets in schools.
In poor families, older girls also leave school to take care of younger siblings while parents work. “This is a persistent problem which tends to push up dropout rates and is a matter of concern,” Hameed said.
But with the bicycle program gaining in popularity, authorities are tightening conditions, demanding students have 75 percent attendance to “earn” their uniforms and the bicycle.
For high school student Parveen, her proudest possession, the free bicycle, has allowed her to dream of even greater things.
“Even college doesn’t seem far away now,” she says.

ABC News, 21 May 2012

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Indian girl trapped in life of cigarette rolling

Access to education, Child Labour, Girl Child Education

DHULIYAN, India (AP) — Sagira Ansari sits on a dusty sack outside her uneven brick home in this poor town in eastern India, her legs folded beneath her. She cracks her knuckles, then rubs charcoal ash between her palms.

With the unthinking swiftness of a movement performed countless times before, she slashes a naked razor blade into a square-cut leaf to trim off the veins. She drops in flakes of tobacco, packs them with her thumbs, rolls the leaf tightly between her fingers and ties it off with two twists of a red thread.

For eight hours a day, Sagira makes bidis — thin brown cigarettes that are as central to Indian life as chai and flat bread.

She is 11 years old.

Sagira is among hundreds of thousands of children toiling in the hidden corners of rural India. Many work in hazardous industries crucial to the economy: the fiery brick kilns that underpin the building industry, the pesticide-laden fields that produce its food.

Most of the children in Sagira’s town of Dhuliyan in West Bengal state work in the tobacco dust to feed India’s near limitless demand for bidis.

Under Indian law, this is legal.

Sagira, who has deep brown eyes and a wide smile, joined her family’s bidi work when she was 7. At first she just rolled out thread for her older sisters and brother, then she helped finish off the cigarettes, pushing down the open ends. Last year, she graduated to full-scale rolling.

She is not alone. Her best friend, Amira, also rolls bidis. So do Wasima and Jaminoor and the rest of the girls in a neighborhood that is, at its heart, a giant, open-air bidi factory.

Parents and children roll cigarettes on rooftops, in the alleyways, by the roads. One woman draped in a red shawl in the yard behind Sagira’s house breast feeds her baby while rolling. Of the roughly 20,000 families in Dhuliyan, an estimated 95 percent roll bidis to survive.

Sagira is expert enough that even when distracted, her fingers continue to flit blindly through the tobacco shavings in front of her.

She says the work can make her ill, with a cold, a cough, a fever. Her head often aches. So do her fingers.

Sometimes, she takes her woven basket of tendu leaves and tobacco to the banks of the Ganges to roll in a circle with her friends. She stops every so often to splash in the river for a few moments. Then she gets back to work.

“I can’t play around,” she laments.

___

Manu Seikh, the bidi king of Sagira’s neighborhood, sits on a roadside bench. In front of him lie orderly stacks of rupee bills — tens, fifties, hundreds — large bags filled with one- and two-rupee coins and a small box holding his asthma inhaler.

He and thousands of middlemen like him are the linchpins that provide the veneer of legality to the bidi industry, insulating the powerful companies selling bidis from the families and children rolling them.

Seikh, 66, got his start in a bidi factory when he was 16, back when bidis were rolled on the factory floor.

A 1986 law barred children under 14 from working with bidis and other hazardous industries, but left a huge loophole that allowed children to assist their families with work performed at home.

So now, while the tobacco is threshed, cut and blended in factories, it is then given to Seikh and other middlemen to distribute to families for rolling. The bidis are then brought back to the factory for roasting, packaging and shipping. A pack of 10 to 12 will retail for 6 rupees, or 12 cents.

The informal nature of the work makes it nearly impossible to count how many of India’s 7 million bidi rollers are children, but estimates range from 250,000 to 1 million.

Every noon, adults and children carry baskets and tubs filled with bundles of bidis to Seikh’s corner stall, where his men scan them for quality, reject those deemed substandard and stack the others in shallow wooden boxes. A bookkeeper makes a note in a ledger and hands over a chit for payment.

Then the rollers receive more tobacco and tendu leaves for another day’s work.

Seikh blames poverty for forcing the children to work, and the government for failing to stop it.

“I am very concerned about children not going to school and losing their futures. But we are helpless,” Seikh says.

In his nearby factory, Ranjan Choudhary, 37, also distances himself from blame, even as boys aged about 7 or 8 slide bidis into plastic pouches and seal them on a small stove.

Whatever the child labor laws say, he sees the industry as “a lifeline” for the people.

“It affects children, but for them to survive, this is the only industry here. There is no other source of income,” he said.

The industry’s chief trade group also brushed off responsibility.

“The child has every right to help the mother. As long as we don’t recruit the children to roll bidis, I don’t think we violate any act,” said Umesh Parekh, chief executive of the All India Bidi Industry Federation.

Bidi rollers should “themselves exercise restraint” in using children, he said, adding that his trade group had no plans to fight against child labor.

“The industry is not doing anything for that. It is for the government to do,” he said.

The government is reevaluating its child labor policy, said Mrutyunjay Sarangi, India’s labor secretary, but had yet to decide on any concrete action.

“We are having discussions,” he said.

India has tacitly recognized this Dickensian nightmare with a recent law making education compulsory up to age 14, said Bhavna Mukhopadhya of the Voluntary Health Association of India, an aid group. “Everything has a time, and I think this is the right time to do it … you have to ban child labor across the board, strictly,” she said.

But efforts to change the labor laws are complicated by the bidi industry’s clout in government. One company owner even sits in the national Cabinet.

___

Sagira’s town was once a textile center where her family for generations wove scarves and sarongs on hand looms.

Mired in poverty, they lived in a mud and thatch hut and could afford only a single meal a day for their 12 children. “We were starving,” said Sagira’s father, Mahmood Ansari.

Then the Ganges caused flooding that destroyed the family’s house — and its loom.

Meanwhile, merchants from other states realized the cheap labor here would be ideal for bidi work.

Sagira’s grandfather turned to bidi rolling, then her father when he turned 12.

Now, every day at 8 a.m., Sagira, her 17-year-old brother and sisters aged 18 and 14 begin a four-hour rolling session. They stop to bathe and have lunch, spend a few hours cutting the tendu leaves into neat squares and then roll for a few more hours.

Because of bidis, his seven children are far better off than he was, Ansari said.

The family gets 75 rupees ($1.50) for every 1,000 bidis rolled, totaling about $150 a month. That’s enough for three meals a day, with a little fish or egg once a week. A few months ago, Ansari used loans to replace the home of tarps and sticks his family had lived in for two decades with an unfinished two-room house of brick and plaster with dirt floors.

But there is not much hope for Sagira’s future.

She’s been to school only twice in the past month; she’s too busy, her mother, Alea Bibi, said. She goes only when there’s a reason, when new books are being handed out or to register for the aid the government gives to bidi rollers as an incentive to educate their children.

When she does show up, she is humiliated for her absences, made to hold her ears with her elbows outstretched and repeatedly sit down and stand up. It doesn’t work, yet each year she graduates to the next grade, regardless of her attendance.

She barely knows math, but can at least count to 25, the number of bidis in a finished bundle.

But at night, after the work is done, her brother, who rarely attends school himself, uses her schoolbooks to teach her to read.

She dreams of being a schoolteacher.

Far more likely, she will get faster at rolling bidis, which will improve her marriage prospects. Then, as so often happens here, her husband might stop working, and she — and eventually her own children — will become the bidi-rolling breadwinners.

Her father sees no way to break the cycle.

“We are destined to roll bidis,” he said.

NECN, 18 March 2012

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‘We must make sure girls stay in school’

Girl Child Education

Girl child education is one of the three causes that Stayfree DNA I Can Women’s Half Marathon is championing. Here’s why.

Though the overall literacy rate in Maharashtra as per the 2011 provisional census is 82.91%, the female literacy rate in rural Maharashtra is a dismal 67.3%. This means, 32% of rural females are illiterate. This is a cause for concern that has also been red-flagged in the India Human Development Report 2011, especially because female literacy has an effect on other factors, such as a child’s health.

Experts agree that because of years of work in the field of girl child education, getting girls to enroll in primary schools is less of an obstacle today than previously. However, they emphasise that the biggest challenge currently is to ensure girls reach secondary school and do not drop out.

“Low value is attached to girls’ education,” explains Kreeanne Rabadi, regional director, CRY. “Early marriage and early pregnancy keeps girls trapped in a cycle of discrimination.”
In rural India, a girl is often taken out of school to help with household chores or take care of a sibling or an elderly relative.

She is not any better off in urban India where she is forced to abandon her education to be hired as a domestic help. Many also drop out because of things we take for granted, like the lack of separate toilets for girls. At times, girls stop going to school because there are no secondary schools available.

Most experts DNA spoke to emphasised that the government needs to give serious attention to the issue of secondary schools. “In Mumbai, there are 1,234 primary municipal schools and only 43 secondary municipal schools. In the M Ward (which includes Chembur), there are huge slums, but no government secondary schools,” says Farida Lambay, co-founder and director of Pratham, an NGO that works to provide underprivileged children with quality education.

Deval Sanghavi, CEO of the NGO Dasra, also blames the mindset of parents. “There is a misconception that families do not send their girls to schools because they are poor. In India, a girl’s education in a municipal school is free, so it is not a financial constraint. A family in rural Rajasthan will not send their girl to a municipal school for free, but will send the son to private school at a cost!”

daily News and Analysis, 11 February 2012

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Education for All – Girl Education Scenario in India

Access to education, Girl Child Education

The right to education is a birth right of every Indian child. Education in our country has a long and glorious history that dates back to the Vedic period. In Indian, people from different socio cultural sects live in harmony with each other. It is said that in India, one can see a unity in diversity. The Government of India took many initiatives to ensure equal status and education for all, irrespective of caste, economic condition, gender and social status. However, India is still having the lowest female literacy rate in Asia. In cities, we can see almost 100% children, boys and girls, are getting education. But in the Indian villages, the situation is still not in an improved condition. Most of the parents are not willing to send their girl child to the school.

The parents in the villages prefer to send their boys to the schools.

The social barriers and rigid customs often become a berried to the education of the girl child in our country. Moreover, many parents are also not willing to send their girls to a co-educational school. Thus it has become very important to remove these social barriers first if we want our country to prosper.

Many NGO’s in the country are working hard to remove social evils that prevent education from reaching every door step. The NGO’s are using traditional medium such as puppetry, jatra and kirtan to make the illiterate section of the country understand the importance of education for all. This low rate of literacy among woman not only harms their self-esteem and development, it also impacts the development of their family. A woman plays various roles in her lifetime- daughter, sister, wife and mother. The education and development of children depends much on their parents, especially their mother. Thus it is very important for a girl to be educated.

It is said that when a man becomes educated, the man only develops; but when a woman becomes educated, the whole family develops. Numerous studies show that illiterate women have generally high levels of maternal mortality, poor nutritional status, low earning potential, and little autonomy within the household. A woman’s lack of education also has a negative impact on the health and well being of her children. For instance, a recent survey in India found that infant mortality was inversely related to the mother’s educational level. Additionally, the lack of an educated population can be an impediment to the country’s economic development.

To improve the educational standards amongst girls, the Government of India had launched National Program for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) in the year 2003. This program was targeted to reach the girls who didn’t get a chance to study in schools. The supervisors closely monitor the growth of every girl under this program so that a higher level of success can be achieved. Gender sensitization of teachers, development of gender-sensitive learning materials, and provision of need-based incentives like escorts, stationery, workbooks and uniforms are some of the endeavors under the program; but to make such efforts successful, the common people of the country need to come forward and provide their supportive hands.

EzineMark.com, 03 February 2012

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