Improving girl Education in India : Tackling drop out ratio
“When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous.”
– Michelle Obama
With a population of 1.4 billion people, India is one of the most populated countries in the world. Almost 50% of this population consists of women. As per the 2011 Census, the total literacy rate in India stands at 74% and the rate of literacy among women is 65.46%. This is a step ahead of the percentage of female literacy in the country in 2001 which was 54.16%. Thus, girl’s education is a burning matter for the country.
However, India still struggles with keeping girls in school. But even now India’s dropout rates for girls are as high as 57% by high school. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights said around 65% girls who do not attend any educational institution are either engaged in household activities, are dependents or are engaged in begging, etc.” The report shows girls from the lower strata of society are lucky to even see a classroom much less get an education.
In India, we have a stark difference between the education ratios of girls belonging to families from different economic backgrounds. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Report said families in the top 20% tend to educate their girls for nine years on average, while girls from families in the bottom 20% get no education at all.
Even those who make it to school are often made to drop out whenever the family has monetary issues and are made to work in fields or take care of the family by doing household work or tend to small children in the family. At times, they are also married off because the Indian mentality still considers their daughter as a burden. A burden that is best suited to stay at home and look after the family.
Apart from this, more than 23 million girls drop out of school annually because of a lack of toilets in school and proper menstrual hygiene management facilities. According to the 2018 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), the proportion of schools with usable girls’ toilet facilities doubled since 2010, reaching 66.4% in 2018. Also, schools with boundary walls to ensure a safer environment, not just for girls but also for boys, saw an increase of 13.4% changing to 64.4% in 2018.
The economic empowerment of adolescent girls can be a “critical lever” to their lives, as it would not only help them become financially independent but will also mean more women in the workforce. The report also said this will also help their confidence, and improve their health. The government created a new draft of its National Education Policy (NEP) in June 2020 to focus more on girls’ education and find solutions to dissolve gender stereotypes of women needing to do the housework.
Though India’s dropout rates aren’t disappearing overnight, a combination of government and organizations are working hard to make a difference in regard to this matter. India’s passing of the Right to Education Act in 2009, made education mandatory and free for all children between the ages of 6 and 14. Its implementation saw a significant increase of girls in schools. As of 2018, the rate of girls from 11-14 not in school had dropped from 10% in 2006 to 4%. More women than ever were enrolling in secondary school and even college.
Even though it’s a long steep road, there are a few ways with which we can tackle the drop-out ratio. These include:
Implementing the ‘no detention policy and continuous and comprehensive evaluation to reduce levels of repetition.
Improved health infrastructure in medically deprived regions. People need to be made aware of menstrual hygiene and bust the age-old myths surrounding menstruation.
The role of teacher-parent communication in preventing absenteeism needs to be examined through further research.
Since the cost of secondary education and distance to schools are some of the key “supply” side factors, then steps need to be taken to address both of these problems.
Female stipend programs should be put in place to give monthly cash assistance conditional on attendance and academic performance.
The road to tackling drop-out ratios of girls in India is a long one. People need to realize that they have so much to gain by helping women continue their education and providing quality jobs for them. At present, Indian women contribute only 18% of the country’s GDP. This is one of the lowest in the world. Even a 10% increase in the women workforce could bring India more than $700 billion to the country’s GDP by 2025. Girl’s education is the golden key to the country’s future.