Government Policies towards Women Empowerment: Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, SSA, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, Saakshar Bharat, SABLA, STEP

Government Policies towards Women Empowerment

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan

  • The principal programme for universalisation of primary education is the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), a Centrally-sponsored scheme being implemented in partnership with State/UT Governments.
  • The programme has been in operation since 2000-01.
  • The overall goals of the SSA are: (i) all children in schools; (ii) bridge all gender and social category gaps at primary and upper primary stages of education (iii) universal retention; and (iv) elementary education of satisfactory quality.
  • The SSA is the primary vehicle for implementing the aims and objectives of the RTE.
  • In addition to programmatic interventions to promote girls’ education within the mainstream elementary education system, girls’ education is pursued through two special schemes for girls, which are supported under SSA. These are (i) National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL), and (ii) Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV).

Key programmatic thrusts under SSA for promoting girls’ education are:

  • Ensuring the availability of primary schools within one kilometre of the habitation of residence of children and upper primary schools within three kilometres of the habitation;
  • Provision of separate toilets for girls;
  • Recruitment of 50 % of women teachers;
  • Early childhood care and education centres in or near schools in convergence with Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme to free girls from sibling care responsibilities;
  • Special training for mainstreaming out-of-school girls;
  • Teachers’ sensitization programmes to promote equitable learning opportunities for girls;
  • Gender-sensitive teaching-learning materials, including text books;
  • Intensive community mobilization efforts;
  • “Innovation fund’ for need-based interventions for ensuring girls’ attendance and retention.
  • National Programme for Girls Education at Elementary Level (NPEGEL);
  • Residential programme for education of disadvantaged girls in educationally backward Blocks -Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV).

National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL)

  • The National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) launched in 2003 is implemented in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBB) and addresses the needs of girls who are ‘in’ and ‘out’ of school.
  • Since many girls become vulnerable to leaving school when they are not able to cope with the pace of learning in the class or feel neglected by teachers/peers in class, the NPEGEL emphasises the responsibility of teachers to recognize such girls and pay special attention to bring them out of their state of vulnerability and prevent them from dropping out.
  • Recognising the need for support services to help girls with responsibilities with regard to fuel, fodder, water, sibling care and paid and unpaid work, provisions have been made for incentives that are decided locally based on needs, and through the provision of ECCE services in non-ICDS areas to help free girls from sibling-care responsibilities and attend schools.
  • An important aspect of the programme is the effort to ensure a supportive and gender sensitive classroom environment in the school. By the end of 2012-13, under NPEGEL, 41.2 million girls have been covered in 3,353 Educationally Backward Blocks in 442 districts. Under the NPEGEL 41,779 Model School Clusters have been established.
  • At the cluster level, one school is developed into a resource hub for schools within the cluster.
  • The model cluster school functions as a repository of supplementary reading materials, books, equipment materials for games and vocational training, a centre for teacher training on gender issues and for organizing classes on additional subjects like self-defence and life skills.
  • The model cluster school serves to motivate other schools in the cluster, to build a gender sensitive school and classroom environment.
  • The NPEGEL follows up on girls’ enrolment, attendance and learning achievement by involving village level women’s and community groups.

Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) scheme

  • The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) are residential upper primary schools for girls from Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Muslim communities.
  • KGBVs are set up in educationally backward blocks where schools are at great distances and are a challenge to the security of girls and often compel them to discontinue their education.
  • The KGBVs reach out to adolescent girls who are unable to go to regular schools, out-of-school girls in the 10+ age group unable to complete primary school, younger girls of migratory populations in difficult areas of scattered populations that do not qualify for primary/upper primary schools.
  • The Scheme is being implemented in 27 States/UTs. Up to the year 2012-13, 3,609 KGBVs have been sanctioned and 366,500 girls were enrolled in these KGBVs during the year 2012-13 as against the targeted enrolment of 373,000 girls.

Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA)

  • The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan is a flagship scheme of Government of India, launched in March, 2009, to enhance access to secondary education and improve its quality.
  • The implementation of the scheme started from 2009-10 to generate human capital and provide sufficient conditions for accelerating growth and development and equity as also quality of life for everyone in India.
  • Largely built upon the successes of SSA and, like SSA, RMSA leverages support from a wide range of stakeholders including multilateral organisations, NGOs, advisors and consultants, research agencies and institutions.
  • The scheme involves multidimensional research, technical consulting, implementation and funding support. In 2013, in its fourth year of implementation, RMSA covers 50,000 government and local body secondary schools. Besides this, an additional of 30,000 aided secondary schools can also access the benefits of RMSA; but not infrastructure and support in core areas.

The objectives of the Scheme are:

  • To achieve a gross enrolment ratio of 75% from 52.26% in 2005-06 for classes IX-X within 5 years of its implementation, by providing a secondary school within reasonable distance of any habitation.
  • Improve the quality of education imparted at secondary level by making all secondary schools conform to prescribed norms.
  • Remove gender, socio-economic and disability barriers.
  • Provide universal access to secondary level education by 2017, i.e. by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan
  • Enhance and universalize retention by 2020

The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), revised in 2013, has integrated among others, the Girls Hostel Scheme and National Incentive to Girls specially to encourage girls in secondary level of education.

A sum of Rs. 3,000/- is deposited in the name of eligible girls as fixed deposit. The girls are entitled to withdraw the sum along with interest thereon on reaching 18 years of age and on passing 10th class examination.

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)

  • The Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), launched in 2013, aims at providing strategic funding to eligible State higher educational institutions.
  • The central funding in the scheme is in the ratio of 65:35 for general category States and 90:10 for special category states would be norm based and outcome dependent.
  • The funding would flow from the central ministry through the State governments/Union Territories to the State Higher Education Councils before reaching the identified institutions.
  • The funding to States would be made on the basis of critical appraisal of State Higher Education Plans, which would describe each State’s strategy to address issues of equity, access and excellence in higher education.
  • One of the objectives of RUSA is to improve equity in higher education by providing adequate opportunities of higher education to SC/STs and socially and educationally backward classes; promote inclusion of women, minorities, and differently abled persons.

Mahila Samakhya (MS) Programme

  • The National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986 recognised that the empowerment of women is possibly the most critical pre-condition for the participation of girls and women in the educational process.
  • The NPE, 1986, says, “Education will be used as an agent of basic change in the status of woman. In order to neutralise the accumulated distortions of the past, there will be a well-conceived edge in favour of women.
  • The National Education System will play a positive, interventionist role in the empowerment of women. It will foster the development of new values through redesigned curricula, textbooks, the training and orientation of teachers, decision-makers and administrators, and the active involvement of educational institutions. This will be an act of faith and social engineering…
  • ” The Mahila Samakhya programme was launched in 1988 to pursue the objectives of the National Policy on Education, 1986.
  • It recognised that education can be an effective tool for women’s empowerment, the parameters of which are:
  • Enhancing self-esteem and self-confidence of women;
  • Building a positive image of women by recognizing their contribution to the society, polity and the economy;
  • Developing ability to think critically;
  • Fostering decision making and action through collective processes;
  • Enabling women to make informed choices in areas like education, employment and health (especially reproductive health);
  • Ensuring equal participation in developmental processes;
  • Providing information, knowledge and skill for economic independence;
  • Enhancing access to legal literacy and information relating to their rights and entitlements in society with a view to enhance their participation on an equal footing in all areas.
  • The main focus of the programmatic interventions under the MS programme has been on developing capacities of poor women to address gender and social barriers to education and for the realisation of women’s rights at the family and community levels.
  • The core activities of the MS programme are centred around issues of health, education of women and girls, accessing public services, addressing issues of violence and social practices, which discriminate against women and girls, gaining entry into local governance and seeking sustainable livelihoods.

Saakshar Bharat

  • Saakshar Bharat is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Adult Education & Skill Development being implemented by Adult Education Bureau of Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development to raise literacy level to 80% and reduce gender gap in literacy to 10% points by 2017. The target group of this Scheme is 15 + year old, which includes youth also.
  • The Saakshar Bharat Scheme was launched in 2009 and has been extended upto 31.03.2017.
  • It is being executed by National Literacy Mission Authority at National Level, State Literacy Mission Authority at State level, Zila Lok Shiksha Samiti, Block Lok Shiksha Samiti and Gram Panchayat Lok Shiksha Samiti at District, Block and Gram Panchayat levels respectively.
  • The principal target of the scheme is to impart Functional Literacy to 70 million non-literates adults (15+ age group) with prime focus on women having the target of 60 million out of 70 million.
  • The emphasis is also on disadvantaged group comprising of SCs-14 million, STs-8 Million, Muslim-12 million and Others-36 million including 60 million women.
  • The auxiliary target of the scheme is to cover 1.5 million adults under Basic Education Programme (Equivalency Programme) and equal number under Vocational (Skill Development) programme.
  • Under the Mission by end of September, 2014, 388 districts in 26 States and one in UT are covered. About 3.92 crore learners appeared for biannual basic literacy assessment tests conducted so far. About 2.86 crore learners (including 2.05 crore females), comprising 0.67 crore SCs, 0.36 crore STs & 0.23 crore Minorities have successfully passed the Assessment Tests under Basic Literacy conducted by National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), upto March, 2014.
  • In addition, about 41 lakh learners have taken up the assessment test held in August, 2014 and 1.53 lakh Adult Education Centres are functioning as of now. 2.5 million persons have been mobilised as Voluntary Teachers; 35 million Primers in 13 Indian languages and 26 local dialects have been produced and distributed.
  • Around 29 lakh learners have been benefited under Vocational Training programme through Jan Shikshan Sansthan between 2009 to 2014 out of which the women beneficiaries were 25.02 lakhs.

Kishori Shakti Yojna and Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) SABLA

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, in the year 2000 came up with scheme called “Kishori Shakti Yojna (KSY) using the infrastructure of Integrated Child Development Services(ICDS).
  • The objectives of the Scheme were to improve the nutritional and health status of girls in the age group of 11-18 years as well as to equip them to improve and upgrade their homebased and vocational skills; and to promote their overall development including awareness about their health, personal hygiene, nutrition, family welfare and management.
  • Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) seeks to empower adolescent girls, so as to enable them to keep charge of their lives. Thereafter, Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls (NPAG) was initiated as a pilot project in the year 2002-03 in 51 identified districts across the country to address the problem of under-nutrition among adolescent girls.
  • Under the programme, 6 kg of free food grains per beneficiary per month are given to underweight adolescent girls. The above two schemes have influenced the lives of Adolescent Girls (AGs) to some extent, but have not shown the desired impact.
  • Moreover, the above two schemes had limited financial assistance and coverage besides having similar interventions and catered to more or less the same target groups.
  • A new comprehensive scheme with richer content, merging the erstwhile two schemes addressing the multi-dimensional problems of Adult Girls, called Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) –‘SABLA’ replaced KSY and NPAG in the selected districts.
  • KSY would be continued (where operational) in remaining districts. Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls – SABLA is implemented using the platform of ICDS Scheme through Anganwadi Centers (AWCs).
  • SABLA aims at empowering Adult Girls of 11 to 18 years by improving their nutritional and health status, upgradation of home skills, life skills and vocational skills. The scheme also aims to mainstream out –of –school children to formal education or non –formal education.

Support to Training and Employment Programme (STEP)

  • The STEP Scheme was launched as a central sector Scheme in 1986 -87.
  • The scheme aims to make a significant impact on women by upgrading skills for employment on a self- sustainable basis and income generation for marginalised and asset-less rural and urban women especially those in SC/ ST households and families below poverty line.
  • The key strategies include training for skill development, mobilising women in viable groups, arranging for marketing linkages and access to credit.
  • The scheme also provides for support services in the form of health check –ups, child care, legal & health literacy and gender sensitisation.
  • The scheme covers 10 sectors of employment Ie. Agriculture, Animal husbandry, Dairying, Fisheries, Handlooms, Handicrafts, Khadi and Village Industries, Sericulture, Waste land development and Social Forestry.
  • The scope and coverage of the scheme has been enlarged with the introduction of locally appropriate sectors.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP)

  • The new scheme Beti Bachao Beti Padhao was launched on 22/1/2015 with the overall goal of the scheme is to celebrate the girl child and enable her education.

The objectives are:

  1. Prevent gender biased sex selection elimination.
  2. Ensure survival and protection of the girl child.
  3. Ensure education of the girl child.
  • The BBBP is an initiative to arrest and reverse the decline in Child Sex Ratio. Through this process, efforts to empower women, provide them dignity and opportunities will be enhanced.
  • Implementation is through a national campaign and focussed multi sectoral action in 100 selected districts, covering all States and UTs. This is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The commitments proclaimed under BBBP are

  • Celebrate the birth of girl child
  • Take pride in daughters and oppose the mentality of ‘Paraya Dhan’
  • Find ways to promote equality between boys and girls
  • Secure admission to & retention of girl child in schools
  • Engage men and boys to challenge gender stereotypes and roles
  • Report any incident of sex determination test
  • Strive to make neighbourhood safe & violence free for women and girls
  • Oppose dowry and child marriage
  • Advocate simple weddings
  • Support women’s right to inherit and own property.


Himanshu Arora
Doctoral Scholar in Economics & Senior Research Fellow, CDS, Jawaharlal Nehru University

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