Girl Child's education is essential for the country's economic growth. Besides that, it is also important to elevate their social-economic status as educated girls grow up to become sensitized members of the society ameliorating theirs and others' lives.
The year 2017 is nearing its end. Let's see how the country fared in promoting and bettering girls' education. Here is a roundup of the same.
Measures to ensure girls' safety
Girls' safety is one of the most critical issues thwarting them from seeking quality education. Identifying the need to make female students self-reliant, a lot of initiatives to impart self-defence training to girls were made in 2017.
- Delhi Police started a programme called "Sashakti" in February to train girls in Self-Defence.
- The Mamta Banerjee Government in West Bengal organised Self-Defence Workshop for girls at Undergraduate level.
- Bhopal Police also initiated Self Defence classes for girls.
- On the other hand, Chennai’s Women’s Christian College deployed female security guards on its campus to ensure the safety of its female students.
Empowerment through awareness
Indore’s Directorate of Higher Education asked all the universities and colleges in the city to create awareness among women about their rights. They also sensitized the students regarding the various actions that can be taken in the face of harassment.
Free Education for Girls
Two Indian states took the apposite measure of making education free for girls. While Karnataka will be implementing the rule for girls from class 1 up to graduation in all public and aided private schools and colleges, Punjab announced free education for girls and women from nursery to higher studies in all government schools and colleges. The same will be in effect in 2018.
Making sex-education a part of curriculum
Haryana’s Yamunanagar decided to educate students studying in state-run schools about sex and the rise of sexual crimes and teenage pregnancy. Students studying in 8th to 12th in the area will be made to focus on fundamental rights, gender insensitivity, child marriage, early pregnancies, domestic violence, female stereotyping, sex selection etc.
Availability of Sanitary Napkins in Universities
The dearth of sanitary napkins in educational institutions along with the stigma of discussing menstruation-related issues openly affects girls' attendance in institutions. To combat the problem, the University Grants Commission (UGC) suggested installing vending machines for the same. While a good number of universities have already implemented the measure, others will be doing the same in 2018.
Helplines for students
The helpline will support the 7,137 girls students who have qualified for JEE Advanced with choice filling and understanding seat allocation.
Improving gender ratio on campuses
From 2018 onwards, the IITs will admit more women, and this is all in the wake of a surveying reflecting skewed gender ratio on campuses.
Working hard, Acing exams
- 15-year-old Muskan Pathan became the country’s topper in this year’s ICSE exams.
- Archana Sasi, from Bengaluru, secured the top spot in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) PG Entrance Exam.
- Eti Agarwal from Lucknow emerged as the topper of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).
- Nandini K R from Karnataka became the third woman in a row to have topped the Civil Services Exam.
While a lot is being done to encourage more and more girls to reap the benefits that education offers, a lot of issues made headlines needing immediate attention and redressal.
Girls' safety - still a distant dream?
What's the point of education if students do not find it feasible to reach educational institutions safely?
In May this year, around 80 girls of a village in Haryana’s Rewari stopped going to school to protest street harassment. The government gave in to one of their demands of upgrading their school to the senior-secondary level. However, the girls demonstrated another protest in July urging them to post sufficient number of teachers at the school.
Another study showed that Delhi girls take issues like safety, distance and transport availability in consideration while enrolling in a college. In simple words, they compromise on the quality of education to prioritize safety.
Child sexual abuse in schools
Incidents of molestation of girls as young as 4 by school staff members and classmates were reported throughout the year. This exposed the extent of their vulnerability to perpetrators in educational institutions.
Salwar-Kameez to ensure safety?
In a bid to make female students feel safer, the Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka government asked its students to wear more Indian salwar kameez at school replacing the blue skirt-white shirt combination. One wonders the extent to which such measures will evade perpetrators from committing what they want to.
Increasing School Dropout Rate Among Girls
Many districts in Uttar Pradesh reported high drop out rate among teenage girls, according to a survey. Taking care of younger siblings, or participating in household chores and the lack of awareness about importance of education are the reasons behind this.
A lot has been done. However, a lot needs to be done. Moreover, real change can be brought only when archaic mindsets resolve to transform. It is the mentality we need to fight. Till then, let us hope 2018 ushers some more positive developments.