Universal education for girls, still a dream!

Universal education for girls, still a dream!

Ankita Chakrabarty and Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

Gender disparities in education at all levels continue to hover around even after 66 years of independence. According to the District Information System for Education (DISE) (2011-12), report, girl’s enrolment at the primary level (Class I-V) stands at 48.35. Also, at the higher education level, the gross enrolment ratio for male population is 20.8 while that for female it is 17.9 respectively.

According to All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2010-11, at higher education level, 55 percent of male are enrolled in under graduate and post graduate courses while only 45 percent of female are enrolled in the same. Also, 62 percent of male are enrolled in PhD while only 38 percent of female are enrolled in the same.

Historical and cultural factors act as prime reasons behind gloomy situation of women education in the country. Poonam Muttreja, executive director at Population Foundation of India, a non –governmental organisation working on the population issues, concurred, “Child marriage affects right to education and vice –versa. It also makes the young girls more vulnerable to sexual violence. Financial burden of dowry further aggravates the situation.”

“Female biasness and patriarchy was always the reason behind poor enrolment ratio. Also, many parents hesitate to send their girl child to schools as most of the schools are far off raising concern for their safety,” lamented Muttreja at Population Foundation of India.

According to Census, the overall literacy rate of All India stands at 73.0 percent. The male literacy rate is 80.9 percent while female literacy rate is 64.6 percent respectively.

Only 72.16 percent of all schools in India have girl’s toilet and the figure for primary schools stands at 65.40 percent respectively according to DISE 2011-12.

Systemic gender discrepancies in teacher profile have further plagued school and university education in the country. According to DISE 2011-12, at the elementary level, only 46.27 percent of all schools have female teachers as on 2011-12. Also, at all India level, at the higher education level, there are merely 59 female teachers per 100 male teachers according to AISHE (2010-11).

Pointing the lack of proper infrastructure facilities as one of the reasons behind such dismal situation, HN Sahay, director operations at Smile Foundation India, an education focused non-governmental organisation said, “The share of female teachers is disproportionately low as there is a hesitation from the female side to teach in areas where provision for basic necessities like electricity and transport facilities are not available.”

Offering measures to uplift women education in the country, Muttreja at Population Foundation of India, said, “Age at marriage of girls should be increased to 21 as marriage limits the future of girls more than that of boys.”

“Schools and colleges should be built in areas easily accessible,” said Muttreja.

Awareness is the need of the hour. Supporting the view, Sahay at Smile Foundation of India, said, “Sensitising the parents and the guardian is the first and foremost requirement. Also, lots of incentives in the form of scholarships should be given to the girls for motivating them.”

“Improving policies pertaining to girl’s education is also required,” added Muttreja.

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