Girls Education at Elementary Level, Education of girls has been a high priority with the Government of India. The National commitment to provide free and compulsory education to all children in the 6-14 years age group is now a Fundamental Right of every child in India after the passing of the Constitution (86th Amendment) Act in December 2002.
Reaching out to the girl child is central to the efforts to universalize elementary education. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, or ‘Education for All’ program recognizes that ensuring girl’s education requires changes not only in the education system but also in societal norms and attitudes. A two-pronged gender strategy has therefore been adopted, to make the education system responsive to the needs of the girls through targeted interventions which serve as a pull factor to enhance access and retention of girls in schools and on the other hand, to generate community demand for girls’ education through training and mobilization.
The targeted provision for girls under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan include :
- Free textbooks to all girls up to class VIII
- Separate toilets for girls
- Back to school camps for out-of-school girls
- Bridge courses for older girls
- Recruitment of 50% of women teachers
- Early childhood care and Education centers in/near schools/convergence with ICDS program etc.
- Teachers’ sensitization programs to promote equitable learning opportunities
- Gender-sensitive teaching-learning materials including textbooks
- Intensive community mobilization efforts
- ‘Innovation fund’ per district for need-based interventions for ensuring girls’attendance and retention.
Efforts are being made to generate community demand for girls’ education and enabling conditions for people’s and women’s participation, to create the push factors necessary to guarantee girls education.
Motivation and mobilization of parents and the community at large, enhancing the role of women and mothers in school-related activities and participation in school committees and strengthening the linkages between the school, teachers, and communities are some of the ways in which the enabling conditions are being created.
Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is a critical and essential input in freeing girls from sibling care responsibilities, leading to their regular attendance in school and in providing school readiness skills to pre-school children.
The SSA works in a convergent mode with the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program to promote pre-school education by providing for training of Anganwadi workers, primary school teachers, and health workers for a convergent understanding of pre-school and ECCE. The SSA, like another program in the past, provides funds under Innovative head (Rs. 15 Lakh per district) and under the NPEGEL component (for 3000 educationally backward blocks) to support pre-school component of ICDS or an interim pre-school center where ICDS does not exist but is needed.
In addition, to target pockets where girls education is lagging behind, the Government of India has launched two focussed interventions for girls – the National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) and the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) to reach out to girls from marginalized social groups in over 3272 educationally backward blocks in the country where the female rural literacy is below the national average and the gender gap in literacy is above the national average.
National Programme for Education of Girls for Elementary Level (NPEGEL):
The NPEGEL, launched in September 2003, is an integral but distinct component of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV): Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) is a scheme launched in July 2004, for setting up residential schools at upper primary level for girls belonging predominantly to the SC, ST, OBC and minority communities.
State Initiatives for promoting girls education:
- UP: Meena Manch- Forum for adolescent girls to discuss their own issues and motivate girls to attend school.
- Haryana: Bicycles are given to girls on joining class VI in a Govt. school located outside the village to prevent dropout at the end of class V and help girls to complete 8 years of schooling16171 girls in 2004-05 and more than 21000 girls 2005-06 benefitted from the program
- Uttar Pradesh: Intensive campaign for community mobilization in selected villages; 21 days training of instructors; use of TLM; residential arrangement for girls and instructors; arrangements for sports, cultural programs, life skills.
- MP: Decentralised provisioning of additional incentives, e.g.: school uniforms, by the local bodies, to motivate girls retention in schools.
- Uttaranchal: Provisioning ECE in a convergent mode with ICDS; SSA supporting with additional TLM; capacity building; honorarium; constructing rooms in primary schools for running ECE centers; relocation of ICDS centers in/near primary schools; synchronized timings of ECE and primary school
- Orissa – Kalsi Dhara (carrying earthen vessel) – An initiative to mobilize the community and Mother Teacher Associations to monitor the attendance of teachers and children, cleanliness of the school compound, regularity of classes being held. The designated mothers are also required to bring to school those children found to be absent by motivating their parents etc.
- Bihar: Summer Camps for Remedial Teaching, provided to girls.
- Madhya Pradesh: Open Learning for many girls who are unable to complete elementary education due to poor access. A tie-up with State Open School where there is a 50:50 cost-sharing between SSA & State Open School for the girl’s fees. Promising Indicators in respect of Girls
- Increase in Enrolment at primary level by 8.67 % (86.91 % in 2001-02 to 104.7% in 2004-05) and at upper primary level by 13% (52.1% in 2001-02 to 65.1% in 2004-05).
- Girls constitute 48.09% of total enrolment at the primary level and 46.51% at the upper primary level (DISE 2006-07).
- Reduction in dropout rate by 14.46% (from 39.9 % in 2001-02 to 25.42 percentage points in 2004-05
- Increase in Gender parity:- GPI is 0.93 for primary and 0.87 for upper primary (DISE 2006-07). 28 States have primary level GPI over 0.90.
- Female teachers in schools have increased to 41.86% in 2006-07 (DISE).
- Girl’s toilets – At present 42.58% of schools have girl toilets (DISE 2006-07). Being addressed in Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and in convergence with Total Sanitation Programme of Ministry of Rural Development.