Girl Education in India

Words: 1744
Topic: Education
Updated:

Draft of the briefing paper

The paper seeks to elaborate the issue of girl education in India. It starts with a statement of the issue of concern. This is an in-depth analysis of the country’s state of girl child education. It explains why the country needs to focus more on improving the state of girl education. It mentions the state of women and their role in the society. It also examines the problems facing women and women affairs.

The paper then moves to background of the issue. This is a statement that explains the root causes of the problems facing Indian women, the high rate of illiteracy among females and the efforts made to fill this gap.

An analysis of the issue seeks to elaborate the situation of girl child and girl education in India. It examines the social and cultural problems that affect women literacy in general. it also examines the needs for improvement to ensure that the rate of literacy in women increases. It also examines the factors that could be used to solve the problem.

The paper ends with a recommendation section, which convinces the reader to take an active role in solving the problem.

The report

Statement of the issue of concern

India is the country with the largest population of adolescents and the second populous nation in the modern world (Lewin 2008). In addition, it is estimated to overtake China as the world’s populous nation within the next two years. With a high population of the young people, India faces a number of problems in meeting the basic development and survival needs of the young population. In particular, one of the largest problems India is facing concerns education of its young female population. Despite achieving various developments in the last five decades, girl education in India remains an important issue.

For example, the number of women who were married before reaching the minimum required age in the country is over 43% (Bourne & Walker 2009). Early pregnancies, nutritional deprivation, death during delivery, limited opportunities for education as well as limited opportunities for economic empowerment have affected the state of girl education in India (Jha, Kesler, Kumar, Ram, et al 2011). Currently, there is a large imbalance between the levels of literacy between males and females in the country. For instance, statistics indicate that the country’s literacy level for males stands at 54% for females compared to 75% of males (Jeffery & Jeffery 2004).

Within the modern context, this is a large discrepancy that shows the need for additional focus and strategies to ensure that girl education in the country achieves the international standards (Singh 2007).

Who is concerned?

This paper intends to brief the Ministries of education and national planning in India on the state of girl education in the country. It aims at providing evidence on the current situation, challenges and issues facing the country’s level of education among females. In addition, the paper provides a number of recommendations for improvement on the issue, expecting to raise the level of women literacy from the current 54% to more than 80% in the next few years (Weiner 2009).

Background to the issue

Recent studies have yielded a number of results that tend to define and describe the current state of girl education in India. Since India was upgraded from a poor to a middle-income nation, the level of education has become an important pointer to social economic development. For instance, some studies indicate that the free and compulsory education provided under the 2009 Rights to Education Act has increased the rate of school enrollment from less than 80% to about 98%. However, the quality of education and the discrepancies between males and females remains significant problems in the country’s education system.

In most government schools, a number of problems face the learning process. For instance, overcrowding in classrooms, absent teachers and sanitary conditions are common problems facing the public education system. Some studies have shown that less than 6% of the total public schools in the country are able to comply with the standards set for education. In particular, the ratio of boys to girls is a significant problem (Moursund & Kravdal 2003).

For instance, in most areas occupied by the poor people, the number of girls enrolling in schools is less than 80% while that of boys has reached almost 99%. Some studies have shown that the rate of school dropouts in primary level is about 25% and about 3.5 million children are not going to school. Among these, girls make the largest portion. For instance, more than 62% of the dropout cases involve girls. In addition, it has been shown that the rate of school dropouts among girls is about 21% compared to only 9% among boys in the urban areas. In addition, about two thirds of the illiterate young people are girls. The history of the state of women in India is quite long.

The current problems facing girl education are deeply rooted in the history of Indian culture as well as the modern trends in the social system. Although the state of girl education is almost equal to that of boys in most urban centers, the disparity is high in rural areas, where less than 50% of women are literate compared to 60% for males (Drèze & Kingdon 2011). Moreover, it is worth noting that more than 70% of the country’s population is rural-based (Singal 2006).

Differences between male and female illiteracy rates in India.
Figure 1: Differences between male and female illiteracy rates in India. (Chanana 2010).

Analysis of the issue

A myriad of social and cultural issues are attributed to the problem. Traditionally, most Indian cultures considered the girl child as less important than the boy child. In most cases, girls were married off at a tender age, sometimes before reaching the age of 14. In most cultures, women took care of homes and provided farm labor in various rural areas across the country. In the modern times, girls tend to drop out of school for a number of reasons, most of which are based on these traditions (Weiner 2006). For instance, family responsibilities remain important in Indian cultures. Girls and women provide free labor at home.

They are expected to learn to be good housewives. A good number of families in the country keep their girls at home to meet these demands, which interferes with their schooling. This problem is prevalent in poor families, especially in rural areas as well as informally settled areas and slums across the country. In addition, girls are sometimes pulled out of school early to protect the family honor. Although the dowry practice has been made illegal, marriage practices across the country are still taking place (Clarke 2003). Girls are expected to be protected from integrating with boys during puberty in order to make a good wife. In addition, the country faces shortage of facilities to meet the education demands for girls. For instance, most schools and state governments face the problem of providing sanitary facilities for girls, yet the population is increasing rapidly.

The existing facilities favor boys, which compromises the state of girl education. In addition, there is a shortage of female teachers in public schools across the country (Tilak 2008). Girl education is favored if the number of female teachers is relatively high. Schools with few female teachers tend to favor boys.

Since 1950s, India has made a number of efforts to solve some of these problems. Among these is the enactment of various legislations to protect the girl child and secure a good schooling system that favors both genders. For instance, the prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) was enacted in 2006 and attempts to protect girl children from early marriages and other related activities (Kambhampati & Pal 2001).

Identification of possible solutions, recommendations and conclusion

The process of empowering women through enhanced access to education for girls remains the most significant option for offering a solution to the problem. The first option is to ensure that the current legislations and policies are enforced. For instance, PMCA and POA, if well enforced, have the potential to increase the number of girl children enrolling in schools and reduce the rate of dropouts among girls. Secondly, the process of providing basic amenities to public schools should be enhanced. In particular, sanitary conditions for girls should be a priority (Chanana 2010). It is important for the state and union governments to cooperate in ensuring that sanitary standards are achieved and maintained in public schools, especially for girls. It is recommended that the annual budget for education in both levels of government be increased and special inclusion of financial support for meeting the rising demand for sanitary among girls be enhanced.

In addition, the primary focus for enforcing POA should be to empower women in order to ensure that girls and women take an active part and role in the education system. Moreover, the program of Action developed in 1992 has a section known as the education for women’s equality. This section should be enforced fully to ensure that the current efforts to empower women lead to an increase in their level of participation in the education process. It states that education is a critical tool for empowering girls and women and ensuring that they equally and actively participate in the process. This is a large opportunity for improving girl education in the country.

We also recommend that the number of female teachers in all public schools be increased by more than 30%. In fact, every school should have at least 30% of its teachers being females. We recommend that every school have at least two female teachers with adequate training in child psychology to cater for the problems facing girls. It is important for girls to share their problems with these psychiatric-trained teachers in order to ensure that the rate of school dropouts among female students reduces to the minimum possible level.

In conclusion, the current state of girl child education in India provides evidence of improvement due to the efforts taken to empower women in the last few decades. However, several problems are still affecting the country’s education system, which mostly affects women. There are various opportunities to improve the situation. The recommendations given in this paper focuses on women empowerment, enforcement of legislations to cope with early marriages and other negative aspects of culture as well as increasing facilities and female teachers and improving access to education for girls (Singh & Hoge 2010).

References

Bourne, KL & Walker, JM, 2009, “The differential effect of mothers’ education on mortality of boys and girls in India”, Population Studies, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 203-219. Web.

Chanana, K, 2010, “Treading the hallowed halls: Women in higher education in India”, Economic and Political Weekly, pp. 1012-1022. Web.

Clarke, P, 2003, “Culture and classroom reform: The case of the district primary education project, India”, Comparative Education, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 27-44. Web.

Drèze, J & Kingdon, G, 2011, “School participation in rural India”, Review of Development Economics, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1-24. Web.

Jeffery, P., & Jeffery, R, 2004, “Killing my heart’s desire: education and female autonomy in rural north India”, Women as subjects: South Asian histories, pp. 125-71. Web.

Jha, P, Kesler, MA, Kumar, R, Ram, F, et al, 2011, “Trends in selective abortions of girls in India: analysis of nationally representative birth histories from 1990 to 2005 and census data from 1991 to 2011”, The Lancet, vol. 377, no. 9781, pp. 1921-1928. Web.

Kambhampati, US & Pal, S, 2001, “Role of parental literacy in explaining gender difference: evidence from child schooling in India”, The European Journal of Development Research, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 97-119. Web.

Lewin, K, 2008, “Education in emerging Asia: Patterns, policies, and futures into the 21st century”, International Journal of Educational Development, vo. 18, no. 2, pp. 81-118. Web.

Moursund, A, & Kravdal, Ø, 2003, “Individual and community effects of women’s education and autonomy on contraceptive use in India”, Population Studies, vol. 57, no. 3, pp. 285-301. Web.

Singal, N, 2006, “Inclusive education in India: international concept, national interpretation. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 351-369. Web.

Singh, S & Hoge, G, 2010, “Debating Outcomes for ‘Working’ Women – Illustration from India”, The Journal of Poverty, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 197-215. Web.

Singh, S, 2007, “Schooling Girls and the Gender and Development Paradigm: Quest for an Appropriate Framework for Women’s Education, Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences”, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 1-12. Web.

Tilak, JB, 2008, “How free is’ free’ primary education in India?” Economic and Political Weekly, pp. 355-366. Web.

Weiner, M, 2006, “Child labor in India: putting compulsory primary education on the political agenda”, Economic and Political Weekly, pp. 3007-3014. Web.

Weiner, M, 2009, The child and the state in India: Child labor and education policy in comparative perspective, Princeton University Press, New York. Web.