Education

Where are the girls?: Ensuring gender parity

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To mark international Women’s Day on March 8, some suggestions on what needs to be done to inspire the next generation of women

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress. An aye to that, loud and clear. For, in various spheres, there is a need to press for progressive policies that will ensure gender parity. Higher education certainly needs a policy that will prevent boys from hopelessly outnumbering girls.

In Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) and Indian Institute of Management (IIMs) today, girls are alarmingly outnumbered. Of the 11 lakh candidates that applied for the JEE Main examination in 2017, 72% were boys. No wonder there is disproportionate representation in the classrooms at engineering colleges.

As per the data from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), there has been a difference of over 40% in the enrolment percentage of boys and girls in B. Tech. and B.E. programmes.

Gender parity

To ensure gender parity, last year, IIMs followed a policy of positive discrimination, giving greater preference to girls in admissions. This initiative did help increase women’s strength at all major IIMs including Ahmedabad, Calcutta and Bangalore.

IITs have decided to create “supernumerary seats” to bring more girls into the classroom. As a result, its enrolment of girl candidates is expected to increase from 8% to 14 % the coming academic year. There is a need for a similar push when it comes to courses based on pure science.

Suparna Diwakar, founder and director of The Indian School of Development Management, Noida, says if you want to see such changes in higher education, the process facilitating this change has to begin at the stage of primary education. Right from there, girls have to be educated in a manner that makes them realise they are equal with boys, and that both are entitled to the same privileges as equal citizens of the nation.

Suparna says the National Policy on Education 1968 talked about the need to educate girls from the perspective of social justice. And, in the National Policy on Education 1986, this is what we read: “The growth of our population needs to be brought down significantly over the coming decades. The largest single factor that could help achieve this is the spread of literacy and education among women.”

As a nation, our objectives for educating the girl child often seem narrow and miss an all-important point: the girl child has to be educated equally so that she gains the power of self-determination, says Suparna.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 9:56:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/where-are-the-girls-ensuring-gender-parity/article22917209.ece

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