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Education Is Foremost Weapon To Empower Girls

In developing economies like India, education in general and girl education, in particular, has received much less importance than it deserves by the policymakers.

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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." 

The above statement of Nelson Mandela, Ex-President, South Africa and more prominently a revolutionary who struggled against apartheid is akin to a universal fact. In the patriarchal world, women are treated similarly. Under this socio-economic setup, women have been denied an opportunity to partake in the avenues of learning. Be it the rich Sino-Indian civilizations or the Greco-Roman society, women were rarely accorded the privilege of education. This has had a severe impact on their standing in society, for it is a proven fact that effective education is the key to a dignified life.  

In developing economies like India, education in general and girl education, in particular, has received much less importance than it deserves by the policymakers. The stress has been on an investment in sectors which have quick turn-around time, education being a long-drawn process has been neglected. But things are changing for better now; it seems our policymakers have realized that an economy cannot develop unless the educational infrastructure is not strengthened. As per the report of Mckinsey Global Institute on Gender parity, India can add $770 billion to its economy by 2025 by encouraging girls to study and participate in the workforce. It is heartening to see that the Draft National Education Policy, 2019 envisages a yearly growth in the public expenditure for the next 10 years. This endeavour would continue till it reaches 20 per cent of the total spending.  

According to a World Bank estimate barely two-thirds of girls complete their primary education in low-income countries like India. The report further states that only one out of every three girls is in a position to complete lower secondary school education. Educating girls must be perceived as an investment, not a burden. It can help women in the endeavour to strengthen their self-esteem.  

The Annual Status of Education Report-2018 (ASER-2018) appeared as a silver lining. It stated that the dropout percentage of girls between the ages of 11-14 reduced to 4.1 per cent from the earlier reported status of 10.3 per cent. This is a marked improvement, but more proactive and comprehensive policies are required to ensure that no girl child is forced to drop out. Dropping out of schools is a massive challenge that is propelled by several societal circumstances. Early marriage, poverty, lack of safety in schools, lower expectations of girls’ education and traditional gender norms are some of the causative factors. 

The government has time and again tried to intervene, but the efforts are thwarted by the socio-economic structure of the rural populace. Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao has been an excellent initiative of the government; it is a renewed push towards empowerment of women. It is raising awareness among communities by spreading the message that the girl child needs to be fostered and educated.  

Dropping out of pubescent girls is another factor that has affected the ratio of education among girls. There are areas where girls are sent to girls’ only schools that have poor infrastructure and teaching facilities. This hurts the learning outcomes, many bright students are left disheartened and a general sense of education not being important percolates in their minds. ASER-Rural 2018, a report on the state of education in the country said that around 13.5 per cent of girls in the age-group of 15-16 are not enrolled in schools. The situation is far more-worse in states like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh where 24.9 and 26.8 per cent girls are out of school respectively.  

However, the government’s renewed push towards girl education, sincere efforts by non-government organisations and the inflow of money through CSR is bound to change the scenario. The ever-increasing passing percentage of girls in board examinations is a reassuring fact, and so are the examples of individual excellence in male-dominated areas. Instances like Captain Tanya Shergill leading an all men contingent in republic day parade 2020 encourage parents and children alike. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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