Children in metro cities are much more privileged when compared to those in rural areas. Though children long to continue education, circumstances keep them away from school. This, especially, applies to girls who are deprived of education due to societal norms, lack of sanitation facilities, and other reasons. Not many government programmes and incentives, which aim to encourage students to enrol to school, have reached the needy.
Child Rights & You (CRY), a non-government organisation, has recently released a study ‘Educating the Girl Child: Role of Incentivisation and Other Enablers and Disablers’. The study focuses on compiling the causes of girls dropping out of school and a review of what is stopping the parents from sending their daughters to school. It has gathered information across four states – Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, and Andhra Pradesh.
The study sampled 3,208 interviewees from 1,604 households, including 1,604 girls. Each household included two interviews, i.e. one of the girl child and the other of the parent. Also, a total of 69 informants were interviewed who belonged to the incentivised scheme implementers and school authorities.
According to the study, most girls who dropped out of school belonged to the socially and economically deprived categories. About 50% of their parents were illiterate, contributing to the fact that their girl child is the first-generation learner in their family. One-third of the respondents had an average monthly family income of Rs.5,000 or less; indicating that they belong to below poverty level (BPL).
Though the Central and state governments have launched several schemes to improve the school enrolment and retention percentage, most of them have failed to reach the target audience. Girls and their parents were clueless about the scholarships and other monetary benefits that are to be offered at school.
Similarly, Beti Bachao Beti Padao programme cannot be counted as an educational incentivisation scheme, it does not encourage sending daughters to school. About 40% of the parents were unaware of the facilities and schemes available for their children at school. Programmes such as Cycle Yojana focused on making girls self-sufficient to travel long distances to reach school has gone ineffective.
Around 50% of girls mentioned that they wanted to continue to study when they were asked to discontinue schooling. Another 50% of girls stated that they wish to rejoin school and continue with their education. Some girls do not want to get back to school if they are not allowed to pursue higher education; they think there is no point in it.
Among diverse reasons for dropping out of school, some common ones heard was menstruation. They said that schools lack sanitary facilities, the lack of water supply if toilets have been built, the tough punishments given by the teacher, physical/sexual harassments, the distance to be travelled for school, societal norms, early marriage, and other reasons.
In spite of the government putting so many efforts to bring every girl child from all the nook and corner of the country, the attempts are not being fully successful. In addition to formulating various programmes, the government needs to work on the reasons that are actually stopping girl children from reaching school.
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