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“Educated girls become empowered women” is a proverb which conveys an in-depth knowledge of the need for educating girls. Educating a girl child makes them self-reliable and financially independent which is the topmost priority in today’s changing world. Education empowers women to take right decisions, boosts up their self-confidence and aids them in finding appropriate jobs.
As per the data gathered by Government through census, the overall literacy rate of India as per 2019 is 64.8%. The literacy rate of male is 75.3% and that of female is 53.7% which shows a gap of 21.6 percentage points between both the sexes at the national level. According to the information published by World Bank, the world’s average female literacy rate is around 82.65% and India’s female literacy rate is around 60% which is 22% below the world’s average.
Even though India is lacking behind in female literacy rates, there is a hidden positive trend in the composition of the literacy rates among women, i.e. the literacy rates among younger women (7-29) are higher than their older counterpart. The greater rates in the age group of 7-29 is due to the country’s efficient educational institutions and the Government initiated education programs.
Our late Prime Minister Pandit Nehru has once said, “The most reliable indicator of a country’s character is the status and social position of women more than nothing else”. Girls do not get educated due to many reasons starting from poverty, traditional norms, and lack of infrastructural facilities, violence, and fragility and so on. The economic structure of rural India is quite miserable even now, i.e. girl children are forced to sit at home, do household chores and look after their siblings without attending school and also, they are married off at an early age because they turn out to be a burden for their parents. The rural households do not find any correlation between economic status and education; hence they do not prefer to send their children especially girl child to schools.
An African proverb says “If we educate a boy, we educate one person. If we educate a girl, we educate a family – and a whole nation.” Once a girl gets educated, she understands the need for education and hence she is most likely to send her children to schools and get educated. In this way investing in a girl child’s education will ultimately lead to investing in a nation. The socio-economic growth of a nation will improve if women are educated because educated women are more likely to escape from poverty and increase their family’s standard of living. Educated women are less likely to fall in trap of domestic and sexual violence since they have a clear idea to whom they have to report to in case of domestic violence. Educating a girl child involves many more benefits which is crucial for a country’s development such as decrease in infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, population explosion, child marriage etc.
In order to improve girl education, Government has taken various measures or initiatives such as Sakshar Bharat Mission for Female Literacy (it was launched in 2008 for promoting adult education among women), Right To Education (it considers education as a fundamental right which provides free and compulsory education to every child aged between 6 to 14), Kasturba Balika Vidyalaya (establishing residential upper primary schools for girl students), National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (It is for reducing the school dropouts by giving special attention to weak girls), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (providing infrastructure for girls hostel for secondary education) etc.
Despite all the hurdles, girl education is progressing steadily. Women’s education must catch up with men’s education as quickly as possible and the disparity between the two has to be bridged to boost up the economic welfare of the society.