Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] The high dropout rate of girls in India


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya

Mains level: High dropout rate among girls is one of the main issues, in the Indian education system.


Reason behind the high dropout rate of girls in India

  1. Traditional gender norms push girls into helping with household chores and sibling care, leading to irregular attendance that eventually results in dropouts
  2. Early marriage, lack of safety in schools and low aspirations related to girls’ education also lead to them dropping out

Annual Survey of Education Report (Aser) 2017 findings on secondary education of girls

  1. According to the report, on average the difference between enrolment levels of boys and girls at age 14 are declining, by 18 (32% girls are not enrolled—compared to 28% boys)
  2. Because the states are not able enforce compulsory education through the RTE Act
  3. Bridging mechanisms for out-of-school children exist at the elementary stage, but are absent for secondary education
  4. Hence girls find it difficult to re-enter education once they have dropped out

Welcome steps by the government

  1. The recent recommendation by the Central Advisory Board of Education sub-committee to extend Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalayas till class XII
  2. And the plans by MHRD to develop action plans for girls’ education are welcome
  3. The new definition of a dropout, 30 days of continuous unexcused absence, is a good start
  4. But more regular touch points are needed to create timely corrective measures to ensure timely regular attendance

Findings of the CARE-India’s research

  1. The research highlights the need to address the reliance on
    (1) untrained, under-qualified and poorly remunerated unprofessional teachers,
    (2) absence of necessary learning materials and infrastructure in special training centres,
    (3) inadequate budgeting and delayed release of funds

The need of direct dialogue with parents

  1. Mechanisms for dialogue with parents and community are critical to change social norms towards girls’ education
  2. The presence of strong female role models in the community, such as women teachers, are key to changing popular perceptions in terms of what girls can do

Distance is a big contributing factor to girls dropping out

  1. Initiatives like distribution of bicycles to girls make schooling safer and enhances retention of girls
  2. Schemes like these have been shown to increase girls’ age-appropriate enrolment in secondary schools by 30%

The way forward

  1. Stronger efforts are needed to enhance the agency of girls themselves to strengthen their self-esteem, challenge gender bias and provide leadership
  2. The curriculum itself needs to enable girls to challenge gender stereotypes and become more assertive
  3. School infrastructure needs to improve through availability of usable toilets
  4. While it is important to work with and empower girls, it is also critical to engage with boys to create a better, more gender equal tomorrow


Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya

  1. The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya scheme was introduced by the Government of India in August 2004, then integrated in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan program, to provide educational facilities for girls belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minority communities and families below the poverty line in Educationally Backward Blocks
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