It’s not just parents’ attitudes which are obstacles in the way of a girl’s education
Recent NSSO statistics National Sample Survey Organisation say that about 15 percent girls never attend school as compared to 11 percent boys. As the kids grow older, the gap between boys and girls widens.
Most of us know that important reasons for girls’ drop-out rates are because of the belief amongst parents that girls don’t need too much of an education and because their help is needed at home. Boys tend to drop out (later) because they are required to earn. However, other factors also influence learning…and these factors may be more important!
I found these very interesting charts which I wanted to share. These were in a paper by Vimala Ramachandran.
Parents are not demons!
This chart tells us that parents are not that vehemently opposed to a girls’ education as we often believe. Sure, just being a girl is an important enough reason to start off with a disadvantage, and factors like early marriage and domestic work are all negatives.
But the lack of a school in the vicinity is also a very important factor…and even more critical than this are three other factors…like a disabled sibling, being an older sibling and also her safety and security at school. Considering that girls even in urban India and that too in primary school are not safe from lecherous teachers, one can imagine the plight of a village girl. Eve-teasing at school and fear of kidnapping and sexual assault on the way to school is always present.
The lack of toilets for girls in many schools is another huge factor. Menstruating girls drop out.
So the most important reason why girls are not being educated is not because of parents’ reluctance…but because of lack of infrastructure and lack of moral behavior amongst some people, including teachers. Trafficking has reached huge proportions in India and village girls are most vulnerable.
Where boys are concerned, yes, the economic status of the family has a strong influence on whether a boy will get educated or not. But boys can contribute to the end of their education…by getting into bad company.
Here is a chart to remind us how hard poor children work – it is a comparison of what work children do in the three states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The red sign means that they always do the work, the blue means rarely and the green ? means sometimes and the black ? means almost never.
Hope for the future
Although there has been remarkable improvement literacy in India since Independence, and primary school enrollment has climbed significantly, only 35.6 per cent boys and 19.7 per cent girls complete middle school. A better infrastructure will go a long way in improving this percentage, at least for girls. Because it’s not just parents’ attitudes, it’s also the environment! Sure, girls are burdened with work, but that is only one reason why they drop out of school. The predators in our society are a great menace and need to be controlled and I think that this will take time to change, but a school nearby should help a little.
(The photo is copyrighted to me)