Education, the term usually referred to an act of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. So, this means it is one of the salient and indispensable processes that everybody needs to go through irrespective of one’s gender, caste, social status. India RTE encapsulates these essentialities like a right of children to free and compulsory education. Now the onus of ‘compulsory education’ lies on the appropriate government to provide and ensure at least the elementary level of education. This has been the focal point in recent years.
“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of women and deprives itself of the contribution of half of its citizens”
-Michelle Obama (ex-First lady of USA)
In India, the education of women was a contentious issue in the majority of the last century. Since 2001 the rates of women literacy have increased by 10 percentage points to 65% but much less than the male literacy rate(82%). This is not enough when we compare ourselves with the likes of China which has an adult female literacy rate(above 15) of 91%. This begs the question as even though we are making progress we are not where we should be at this point in time. The female education not only does make moral but also economic sense. As the well-known study published by Mckinsey Global Institute observed that providing emphasis on gender equality in education and employment could add around $12 trillion to the global economy. This is equivalent to having another country with economic wealth like China in the world. The urban statistics for female education does fare better than the rural but is not comparable to other middle-income countries.
So what is holding us back from reaching our potential?
Most of the urban households are aware of the importance of female education but the problem persists with rural households. Amongst others the primary reasons for this disparity are -
1. The negative attitude of parents towards a girl child in terms of her education as they are not treated on parity with boys.
2. Right from the beginning families does not consider women/girl child an earning member of the family giving less incentive for them to pursue education.
3. Poverty in rural areas prevents them from quality education.
4. The government has stepped up its reach in rural areas by building schools and providing free education but accessibility remains a problem. Even if a school is accessible, the facilities have been found to be below par creating a hindrance for families to send girls to school.
5. Lack of female teachers in schools also is an important factor behind the low female literacy rate.
Importance of Girl education -
1. Economic development and prosperity: Educating the girl child will help in empowering them to come forward and contribute towards the prosperity and development of the country as seen by Mckinsey reports.
2. Improved health: Educated girls bring an awareness of the importance of hygiene and health. Through education, they can lead a healthy lifestyle.
3. Care of Children: The women that are educated can carter for their children better.
4. Dignity and honor: They become a source of inspiration for millions of young girls who make them their role-models.
5. The choice to choose a profession of her options: Educated girls have proved to be successful in their different professions. But providing multiple avenues through which success can be achieved will encourage women to walk the path they desire.
6. Human trafficking which is also very much a persistent disease in our country can be curbed with girl education as it created awareness among them and provides them with opportunities.
Girl child education isn’t one to take for granted. But in spite of all reasons, we must understand and realize that girl education can actually end the vivacious cycle of poverty. In case of any misfortune in life, it is education that would help her, not anything else. The government should really work towards the number, distance, and quality of schools in rural as well as urban India. We should encourage the girl child in getting educated to create a well balanced and equal society as dreamed by our great leaders.