Is Female Education Still a Concern?
‘Thirty crore people in India are still below the poverty line.’
A report published by the UN in February 2015 states, “Still nearly 300 million people live in extreme poverty in India and face deprivation in terms of access to basic services, including education, health, water, sanitation and electricity.”
It was a Wednesday morning. I had a big meeting scheduled and with the amount of data which I had on my mind, I really needed a cup of tea. So I walked to the local stall where I usually go every evening and ordered a cup of tea. To my surprise, rather than the chaiwala serving the tea, it was his daughter who was doing it today. Out of sheer concern, I immediately walked up to him and asked him, “Bhaiya, are you facing any financial issues? Why isn’t Priya at school today?”
His answer got me back to reality. The ugly truth that there are still people in our country who stereotype the role of women in our society.
He said, “Nahi, school keliye toh paise hai, par padh ke karegi kya?”It is better that she trains with me in all household work, which will help her after marriage too, he explained.
Recent statistics by the government of India reveal that only 3 out of 10 girls who enter class 1, complete class 10. While the number of girls enrolling for primary education has been improving marginally, the dropout rate still remains alarmingly high. Also, the research shows that the reasons for this dropout may be as minor as the girl child not being able to afford a school uniform to go to school. Furthermore, including complex factors such as girls taking on the responsibility of household chores at a very young age is a result of gender stereotyping.
How does this affect the women of the country?
The society has been conditioned to think that they need to handle homes. People don’t see the point in educating the girl child. What they fail to understand is that education is an investment that generates returns in more than just monetary ways.
An interesting research conducted in the under-developed and developing countries has reflected that controlling population growth rate is directly related to female literacy levels in that country.
However, the world is changing.
With multiple NGO’s and initiatives taken by the government for free schooling and clothing, more and more girls are being pulled into getting educated rather than being pushed away from it.
Street schools have been established to provide basic education to young girls. People are coming forth to teach these students, post their working hours. Such initiatives are what will truly bring about growth in the area of female education.
When UNICEF met some girls in the northern region of India, they spoke of the uphill task they had faced in fighting these odds to go to school. But they were unanimous in upholding the value of their rebellion: education they said, had freed them from chains that had seemed unbreakable and given them lives and opportunities that they had only dreamed of earlier.
We are halfway through the journey, but the other half of it still needs to be covered. With our combined efforts, better facilities, and a renewed mindset towards the issue, surely the other half of this journey will be completely worth the innocent smile of every little girl waiting for her chance at exploration.
The challenge still stands. How do we do our part in educating the girl child?
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