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Learning Deficit
For poor families in rural Bihar, educating the girl child can be tough but a rewarding choice.

Educating a nation

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Educating a nation

Dropout rate for girls is relatively higher owing to choices

December 17, 2016 01:24 am | Updated December 04, 2021 10:49 pm IST

For poor families in rural Bihar, educating the girl child can be tough but a rewarding choice.

For poor families in rural Bihar, educating the girl child can be tough but a rewarding choice.

There is a well-known saying that if you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation. In the order of national priorities, educating India’s girl child figures right at the bottom and she is more often engaged as extra help at home or as domestic help in others’ homes.

The Digital Gender Atlas for Advancing Girls’ Education produced by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development has ranked States and Union Territories from 1 to 35 based on several indicators ranging from enrolment to dropout.

According to the Atlas, Bihar’s dropout rate for girls is below the national average of 4.66 per cent. States with even higher dropouts are Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and a few more from the North East. Mizoram reported a staggering 23.93 per cent dropout rate among girls.

There are good reasons these States rank low in terms of literacy indicators. Sanjay Kumar of Deskhal, an NGO in Bihar, says that there is a two-pronged discrimination that girls face early on: one, from their parents and the other, from the teachers teaching in schools. The first shows up when parents send their boys to private schools and girls to government schools. The second level of discrimination takes place when teachers reinforce the belief that boys learn faster than girls, thus discouraging the girls.

 

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2015 puts the proportion of dropouts in the age group of 6-14 at 3.9 per cent. Of this, 22 per cent boys and 24 per cent girls dropped out before completing Class I. However, the difference in dropout rates between girls and boys increases among 11–14 year olds, as girls are eased out of schools to work at home or get married. Two-thirds of those not in school were from the lowest castes, tribal groups and Muslim communities.

The government is spending on campaigns to protect the girl child and also pledging to educate her – Beti Bachchao and Beti Padhao – with ringing endorsements from Bollywood celebrities.However, less than 160 km from New Delhi, in a small village in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, parents don’t want their girls to go to a school that is less than two kilometres from their home.

“There are louts on the way. Who will protect my girls when they get harassed on the streets,” asks a mother. That is one question that the state has to answer.

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