The Government Girls’ Higher Secondary School at Melur near here, which had initially denied admission to two 17-year-old married girls in class XI, has finally agreed to admit them.
“Yes, they will be admitted,” said Headmistress V.P. Nirmala. Her decision came following the intervention of Chief Educational Officer (CEO) S. Nagaraja Murugan, who took note of the news report in The Hindu on June 23 and articles written by Krishna Kumar, former Director of National Council of Educational Research and Training, and Shantha Sinha, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, on June 30 and July 6 respectively.
Ms. Nirmala also conceded that two other girls who got married after completing Standard VIII were continuing to study in the school following permission granted by the previous Headmistress.
R. Shanthi, mother of one of the two minor girls who will now get a chance to pursue their education, said her daughter, now 17, was a bright student, who had scored 402 out of 500 marks in the Standard X examinations. The girl was given in marriage to her maternal uncle in March this year.
“My daughter was interested in studies very much and insisted on continuing schooling even after the marriage. My brother-cum-son-in-law wholeheartedly agreed to help educate her. He is a graduate and was earlier working in Iraq as an accountant. Now, after marriage, he has plans to go abroad once again and so he agreed to send his wife to school,” she said.
Decrying the practice of denying school admission to married girls, advocate U. Nirmala Rani of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) said the whole debate revolved around two knotty issues – the illegality of child marriage and the denial of education to child brides. Noting that child marriage was null and void in the eye of law, she said that even otherwise, marital status had no relevance to pursuing education, be it in school or college.