international girl child day: Why education of girls must be a strategic priority

Since educated girls and women empowerment go hand in hand, their education deserves continuous efforts. A UNICEF survey showed that almost 60% of girls in developing countries do not attend school. In India, early child marriage, negative attitude of parents, perception of girls as unworthy ‘investments’ add to the issue. Increasingly, girls’ education is being viewed as a strategic development priority that goes far beyond getting girls to school.

progressive push


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Debashish Chatterjee, Director, IIM Kozhikode, says that despite several initiatives like innovative scholarship schemes, mid-day meal programmes, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Right to Education, all have ensured from time to time that girl child education is not considered a financial obligation. Is. , much more needs to be done to remove the remaining biases. “Higher education statistics are still a concern, even though institutional innovations such as the introduction of supernumerary seats make a progressive push for the adoption of gender equality.” “Discrimination triggered by the unequal distribution of a bowl of rice has much more to do with the prevailing mindset than the lack of opportunities. India is still far from achieving gender equality and its skewed sex ratio of 940 females per 1000 males is a testimony to this fact. States showing better sex ratio have also been able to break the gender divide and show higher percentage of girl students. To combat the great menace of discrimination, we must focus on continuous communication and information dissemination, which will result in creating public awareness among the section of the society which still sees education as a privilege and not a necessity. in,” he added.

Higher educational institutions like IIMs, IITs, Central Universities have an important role to play in being ideal institutions. A initiative has been taken by the Missions like ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyan’ of the Ministry of Education with a view to involve professional and higher educational institutions in the development process of rural areas in the country to achieve sustainable development and better quality of life, says Chatterjee For example, IIM Kozhikode has adopted 5 nearby villages under this scheme, wherein prominent PGP student volunteers use their skills to prepare for competitive exams through coaching classes, career counselling, internships and specially focused for programs to do. Women students and disadvantaged sections. The institute is known to have 39% female candidates for this academic year in its PGP program and the 2021 batch is a record high of 53% females for its full-time PhD programme.

Soumya Jose, Head, Department of Humanities and Management, NIT Andhra Pradesh, also calls for similar initiatives by premier institutions. “They can provide coaching centers in rural areas to help girls pass entrance exams and raise awareness about scholarships and reservations.”

retention of eligible women

“But scholarships alone cannot address gender inequality – although they will not hurt. Higher educational institutions have a responsibility to not only improve the percentage of women in their various programs, but also to include highly qualified women in the workforce and Preeti Aghalayam, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras, says. Where, in addition to the mandatory supernumerary seats at the undergraduate level, scholarships and awards, gender awareness sessions, counseling for women students are regular. are organized.

female role model

Aghalayam says there are many women who are exemplary and can serve as great role models if the time is spent documenting and highlighting their contributions. “A look at the statistics from the Nobel Foundation is one example. Obviously, the number of women scientists who attracted the attention of the Nobel Prize Committee between 1901–2020 is very small as their total number as laureates is 58 compared to 876 male laureates. But this does not mean that the number of accomplished women scientists doing fundamental work is so small. It only means that their contribution has not been acknowledged. Obviously we have a long way to go and asking our young women to aim at the sky is not enough,” she says.

In UPES, girls are at the center stage under its ‘Shakti’ initiative, where eminent women leaders are invited to provide motivational sessions. “We celebrate their successes at the university, national or even district level. For example, if there is a student who publishes a research paper, we celebrate it on a larger scale than boys,” says Sunil Rai, vice-chancellor of UPES, which offers 20% scholarships to all girls, regardless This is their social status.

advice support

“At every step, there is a need for shaping knowledge, right education, family disputes, participation in family decisions, future paths, career guidance. In today’s times, the role of electronic gadgets along with the Internet is also playing a significant role in providing consultancy support from open resources,” says Amita Dev, Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women (IGDTUW), in collaboration with Govt. The NCT of Delhi is on a mission to promote STEM education among girls in Delhi. Under this program, each IGDTUW mentor guides 5 girls studying in grades IX-XII and helps them clear their doubts about STEM careers, share strategies to crack entrance exams, learn Extended support in accessing resources and motivated them to drop out of schools. Pursue education and STEM careers.

Dev laments the fact that girls are often unable to exercise their choice in education due to economic reasons and because of societal pressures. “Due to limited funds, resources and time, it is seen that women lose their enthusiasm towards career building. Normally they are treated as facilitators to make the life of their family members easier,” she adds.

parity matters

At Amity University, the focus is on an “equal opportunity” environment for girls to stand out in their chosen profession. Major General Bhaskar Chakraborty, Director, Pravesh, Amity says, “Reservation itself cannot contribute to the upliftment of women, while creating an environment that is non-discriminatory and provides equal opportunities to talented people, irrespective of gender. may have the desired effect.” Universities where admission figures roughly correspond to a 50:50 ratio between boys and girls. As far as the faculty is concerned, the scale is heavily tilted towards women and even the university is headed by a female Vice-Chancellor. The university offers BA (General) program only for girl students. “The distinguishing feature of this program is that while pursuing academics, students are trained to join the armed forces as officers. With the opening of the National Defense Academy (NDA) portal for girl cadets, the University is offering coaching for girls, including 50% fee concession,” he added. The Dubai campus of the university also provides 10% scholarship to all its girl students to encourage more number of girl students to pursue higher education. does.

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