Of school dress and discrimination | india | Hindustan Times
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Of school dress and discrimination

WHAT HAPPENS to students when only girls are provided with free uniform in primary schools of Uttar Pradesh? Besides facilitating participation of more girls in the schools, the decision is also leading to a sense of discrimination among boys. A sense of discrimination among boys may not be as disturbing to social scientists as is the discrimination reflected in parents who choose to invest more in education of boys than girls.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 01:30 IST

WHAT HAPPENS to students when only girls are provided with free uniform in primary schools of Uttar Pradesh? Besides facilitating participation of more girls in the schools, the decision is also leading to a sense of discrimination among boys.

A sense of discrimination among boys may not be as disturbing to social scientists as is the discrimination reflected in parents who choose to invest more in education of boys than girls.

So boys are sent to ‘better quality’ English medium private schools while girls are left to study in government schools. Observations are part of report that a Joint Review Mission (JRM) team comprising Ruma Banerjee (Government of India) and Venita Kaul (World Bank) has submitted to State Government after conducting a sample study in schools of three blocks of Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar districts.

A piquant situation prevails in nearly all primary schools covered under the National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) programme of the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. In an effort to deal with such a situation, a decision to display a list of children’s rights titled “Bal Adhikar” and set up Meena Manch (forum of girls) in all the schools, was taken.

Significantly, this is not for the first time that any scheme launched to benefit a section of students has led to complaints of discrimination. A similar situation had emerged in government primary schools when a decision to provide free school textbooks to girls and dalit students was taken. Later, the then chief minister Rajnath Singh decided to provide free text books to all students to deal with such complaints.

Being implemented in collaboration with the World Bank the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) considered to be the most of ambitious programmes of the State Government in the education sector. As female literacy rate has remained low in the state, the girls’ education remained in focus of the SSA. As per the JRM report, in 746 Educationally Backward Blocks 7822 model clusters schools are being developed for girls.

According to additional director NPEGEL Parthasarthi Sen Sharma, the list of children’s rights would be displayed in the form of wall painting in all the schools.

At the same time, Meena Manchs are being constituted in a big way in 2005-2006 in all the schools covered under NPEGEL, he said, adding Meena is a fictitious character in school textbooks.

Meena Manch was yet another initiative to bring the girl child to school and would work as a forum to educate students about the rights of the girl child, said Sen Sharma adding that all girls, under in age group of 11 to 18 years, would be eligible to become members of the Meena Manch that in some districts managed even polio booths independently.

Meena Manch is also working as an activist group of girls to awaken people against issues like child marriage and educate people about benefits of small savings, he said.

A regular radio programme for the Meena Manch members was in the offing, he said adding the only problem being faced on the front was in schools where there were no women teachers, he said.