New Delhi, 24th January 2020. The Right to Education (RTE) Forum, on the occasion of International Day of Education and National Girl Child Day (24th January) during ongoing Global Action Week to Fight Inequality (18th January – 25th January 2020) organized a ‘Discussion on the Status of Girls’ Education in India’ at Indian Women’s Press Corps in New Delhi, in the presence of over 50 participants. The discussion highlighted various issues pertaining to girls’ education and drew attention towards the need for enhanced public resources for universalizing school education through the extension of the RTE Act 2009. Similar press conferences and consultations happened across the country in Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Odissa, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Pudducherry, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu highlighting the importance of public financing on education for universalization of education focusing on girls and children belonging to excluded groups and communities.
The session began with the experience sharing by girls studying in schools located in the urban slums and resettlement colonies in Delhi. Their voices echoed the concerns of thousands of girls living in the urban suburbs in the capital city of Delhi. They spoke about their everyday experiences and challenges which they faced in attending schools which in most cases were far from their neighborhood. Neha speaking about her challenges narrated how her teacher is not able to understand her sign-language which she feels is a major barrier in her communication with her teacher. Alka from Narela, an urban resettlement colony in Delhi, shared her concerns regarding the infrastructural gaps in her school.
“There is no clean drinking water in my school, for which it becomes difficult for me and my friends. Even outside school it is not safe for us”
Varsha also talked about gender disparity in sharing household chores and how her family members expect her to manage household chores with her studies and not her brother. These issues also were reiterated by the other girls in the panel. The session was coordinated by Ms Anubhuti Patra representing the campaign #spendonEd.
The next session was joined by distinguished panelists including Mr Urmilesh, senior journalist; Mr Mohd Salam Khan, CWC chairperson; Ms Rita Singh, member Delhi Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR); Ms Anjela Taneja, Lead Campaigner Inequality from the campaign, fight inequality of Oxfam India and was coordinated by Ambarish Rai, National Convener, RTE Forum. The Factsheet was released in the beginning of the session which highlighted the following concerns:
- Girls are twice less likely as boys to receive 4 years of schooling.
- 30% of girls from the poorest families have never set foot inside a classroom.
- 40% of adolescent girls between ages 15-18 years are not attending any education
- Literacy rate of women in India is still staggering at 65%.
Facts enunciated in the factsheet was reiterated through the discussion and experience sharing by girls and children in the conference. It was felt that status of education in the country has reached at crucial juncture and adequate financial allocation and expenditure is critical for education of all children particularly girls.
Right to Education Forum (a network of 10,000 civil society organizations across 19 states), educationist and Teachers Associations working for universalization of school education through the implementation of the Right to Education Act 2009, since its inception. As the RTE Act is completing its 10 years, a campaign called #10yrsofRTE #SpendOnEdu #GirlsEdu campaign is being started which is calling on the union government to:
- SPEND MORE
○ Prepare a financial roadmap for implementation of the RTE Act and the National Education
Policy, which front-loads investment in the early years of the new policy to address the historic downturn in spending.
- SPEND BETTER
○ Prioritise investments, particularly towards:
■ Gender-transformative education to improve girls’ access to a free, safe and quality
■ Lagging states, particularly those with the lowest capacity to raise resources.
- SPEND TRANSPARENTLY
○ Build systems to bring tied grants, such as Samgra Shiksha, under greater public scrutiny.