Issues related to Girls’ Education

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Girls’ education is a strategic development priority. It is an important tool that enables women and girls to participate in decisions that affect their lives and in improving their social status. According to Census 2011, India’s female literacy rate is 65.46 percent, significantly lower than the world average of 79.7 percent.

Girls’ education goes beyond getting girls into school. It is also about ensuring that girls learn and feel safe while in school; complete all levels of education with the skills to effectively compete in the labor market; learn the socio-emotional and life skills necessary to navigate and adapt to a changing world; make decisions about their own lives; and contribute to their communities and the world.

Barriers to Girls’ Education:

  • Socio-cultural problems:
    • Boy child gets preference over education of girl child
    • Early marriage of girls
    • Male dominated society where a boy child becomes the bread earner for the family
  • Socio-economic problems:
    • Parents cannot afford education of all children
    • Girl child assists females in household chores
  • Infrastructural problems:
    • Unavailability of girls’ usable washroom at schools
    • Availability of schools far from their village
    • Connectivity problems with no road or no transport facilities
  • Quality of education:
    • Less teachers in the school or their frequent absence
    • Lack of required space in the school resulting in crowding in a single classroom
    • Basic education not available in local language
  • Security and health issues:
    • Traveling daily to schools crossing secluded places, jungles are not safe for girls
    • Incidents of molestation and crimes against girls discourage girls’ education
    • Girl child does not get proper child care and required hygiene at home

Effects of Girls’ Education:

Better educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better health care and education for their children, should they choose to become mothers. All these factors combined can help lift households, communities, and nations out of poverty and better standard of living.  

Studies from a number of countries suggest that an extra year of schooling will increase a woman’s future earnings by about 15 per cent, compared with 11 per cent for a man.

The effect of education and their effects can be better understood by the following comparison:

State Female Literacy
Rate
Average Age
of Marriage
(Years)
Fertility Rate
National Average 65.4% 20.7 2.3
Kerala 92% 21.4 1.7
Tamil Nadu 73.9% 21.2 1.6
Uttar Pradesh 42.2% 19.4 3.1
Bihar 33.1% 19.5 3.3

Fertility Rate: average number of children born to women during their reproductive years.

Way Forward:

  • Parental and community involvement: Families and communities must be important partners with schools in developing curriculum and managing children’s education.
  • Low-cost and flexible timetables: Basic education should be free or cost very little. Where possible, there should be stipends and scholarships to compensate families for the loss of girls’ household labour. Also, school hours should be flexible so children can help at home and still attend classes.
  • Schools close to home, with women teachers: Many parents worry about girls travelling long distances on their own. Many parents also prefer to have daughters taught by women.
  • Preparation for school: Girls do best when they receive early childhood care, which enhances their self-esteem and prepares them for school.
  • Relevant curricula: Learning materials should be relevant to the girl’s background and be in the local language. They should also avoid reproducing gender stereotypes.

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