Schools need to become more receptive to girls
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Schools need to become more receptive to girls

There has to be a proper mechanism to identify girls at risk of dropping out of school.

editorials Updated: Jan 21, 2019 12:41 IST
Hindustan Times
Literacy,Enrolment Rate,female literacy
Girl students protesting against a lack of infrastructure at village Gothra, Rewari.(HT File Photo)

“We are far from becoming an educated nation,” writes Madhav Chavan, CEO, Pratham, in his introductory piece in the 2018 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), which was released in New Delhi this week. The reasons for such a distressing appraisal is available extensively in the report, a survey that aims to provide annual estimates of children’s schooling status and basic learning levels for each state and rural district in India. One out of every four Class 8 students in rural India is unable to read even a Class 2 text. And over one in two Class 8 students cannot solve a problem that involves basic division. By Class 8, the last year of compulsory schooling in India, all children are expected to have mastered foundational skills. On enrolment, however, the news is not so distressing. The report says that the proportion of children not enrolled in school has fallen below 3% for the first time ever in India, and stands at 2.8%. This improvement is seen across age groups and gender. For instance, in 2018, the proportion of girls in the 11 to 14 age group who were out of school fell to 4.1% from 10.3% in 2006.

In addition to poor learning outcomes, there is one more issue that must worry all of us: the education of girls, especially in the 15-16 age group. According to the report, in 2006, the all-India proportion of girls in the age group 11 to 14 who were out of school stood at 10.3%. In 2018, the overall proportion of girls in the 11 to 14 age group out of school has fallen to 4.1%. However, 10 years ago (2008), nationally, more than 20% of girls in the 15 to 16 age group were not enrolled in school. In 2018, it’s 13.5%.

While the decrease in the percentage of out-of-school girl children is a positive trend, experts say, proactive policies are required to ensure that the decrease is much faster than what it is now.

To ensure this, the policies must tackle social norms that keep girls out of school.

At the very basic level, schools need to become more receptive for girls and teachers must be trained and sensitised to this gender gap. Additionally, the focus must be on having a mechanism to identify girls at risk of dropping out and bring back those who have quit school. There must also be a provision for special training and accelerated learning opportunities for out-of-school girl children, and mechanisms for dialogue with parents and community to ensure that girls stay in school.

First Published: Jan 21, 2019 07:58 IST