On Women’s Day, India still staggers in girls’ education : Ambarish Rai

India still staggers in girls education

New Delhi, 9th
March, 2019. When the whole world celebrated International Women’s Day on March
8, the current scenario of girls’ education in India is very precarious.  Nearly 40% of adolescent girls aged 15-18 are
not attending any educational institution. About 30% of girls from the poorest
families have never set foot inside a classroom. Girls are twice as likely as
boys to have less than 4 years of schooling. 
This was stated by Mr. Ambarish Rai, National Convener, Right of
Education Forum (RTE Forum).

60
million children are out of school

In a
statement issued on the eve of International Women’s Day, Mr. Rai said,

“More than
60 million children are out of school in India. This is the highest number of
out of school children of any country in the world. About 25% of boys and girls
are unable to read Std 2 level text. 
Around 36% girls and 38% boys are unable to read words in English.
Moreover, about 42% girls and 39% boys are unable to do basic subtraction
arithmetic.”

Mr. Rai
further said,

“India’s
Right to Education Act 2009 guarantees every child between the ages of 6 and 14
the right to free and compulsory schooling. However, the act is not widely
implemented. The rate of compliance is as low as 9% across India. What’s more
pathetic that it excludes secondary school children between 15 and 18 years of
age, leaving many children, and girls in particular, without the education they
need to build a better future for their families, communities and country.”

Expressing
his disappointment, Mr. Rai said that many of those who are able to access
schools leave without the knowledge and skills they need to enter the labour
markets.

“Though
Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) data shows secondary school children’s
foundational reading and math abilities are poor and average achievement scores
of Class V students have declined in all subjects between 2011 and 2014, but
why the government is not ready to invest required resources to the government
schools, as being done in Kendriya Vidyalyas and Navoday Vidyalyas?”

Without this
how we can expect better results? He questioned.

According to
him, this is partly down to a shortage of trained teachers. He said, “Data
shows 17.5% of elementary and 14.8% of secondary teaching posts are vacant.
Moreover, only 70% of teachers at primary level are adequately trained and
qualified.”

Pointing
fingers on government’s negligence towards education system, Mr. Rai opined
that this Indian system is critically under-resourced.  “The Government is only spending 2.7% of GDP
on education. This represents a drop from 3.1% on 2012-13. In fact, the
spending remains significantly below the 2015 Incheon Declaration and Kothari
Commission recommendations of allocating at least 6% of GDP to education,” he
observed.

“We have
heard the drumbeating of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ by the government. But it
is the government which has failed this programme. The total budget of this
programme was Rs. 100 crores. And we know through various news-reports that
approximately 60 per cent of this fund has been wasted on publicity only.
Remaining 40 crores is just farce and inadequate to provide education to girls
of this country,” Mr. Rai wryly added.

Mr. Rai
sincerely expressed the need of educating all girls up to class XII. He said,
“Increasing the share of girls completing secondary education by 1% increases
economic growth by 0.3%.”

“Education
serves as an important tool to empower women and girls, and is one of the most
powerful investments to prevent child marriage and early pregnancy. With each
year of secondary education reduces the likelihood of marrying as a child
before the age of 18 by five percentage points,” he added.

“Quality
education can counteract the social factors that hinder women’s labour market
participation. Earnings increase by approximately 10% for each additional year
of schooling. It clearly means that education not only helps to grow the
economy but also fights poverty,” he argued.

Mr. Ambarish
Rai further said that education, particularly formal secondary education, is
the most effective way to develop the skills needed for work and life. As such,
it is widely considered one of the best investments to expand prospects of
skilled and adequately paid employment. “Those with access to quality senior
secondary education are significantly less likely than workers with only a
secondary education to be in vulnerable employment or to work informally
without a contract or social benefits,” he observed.

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