UP opens new chapter in girls’ education
With the launch of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (education for all) programme in the state, Uttar Pradesh is focusing on greater access to education and a reduction in the gender gap in primary education
Implemented along with the central government-sponsored Mahila Samakhya Programme (women’s empowerment programme) the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has been devised to tackle the problems of low enrolment, high dropout rates and a gender bias, particularly among scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, in the education sector.
Factors such as access to schools close by, lack of women teachers, economic compulsions and a gender bias have pushed down the female literacy rate in Uttar Pradesh to 25.3%, as against the national average of 39.3%. According to state education department statistics, there are districts where the literacy rate of scheduled caste women has dipped to seven per cent. The gender-wise break-up of dropouts is 52% for boys and 65% for girls. For girls belonging to backward communities the figure is as high as 71.3%.
Lack of awareness and a supportive environment have been cited as major hindrances to the system. Therefore, the SSA has planned intervention programmes such as the Meena campaign, mahila sansad and maa-beti melas to help develop a community commitment to girls’ education.
Meena groups are being organised in schools, among girl students who carry the message of girls’ education out into the community. Maa-beti melas are held at block levels with the same objective of driving home the benefits of female education. However, a visit to a mela in Nangal showed that despite a fair amount of enthusiasm on the part of the girls, their mothers were reluctant to move out of their homes.
“Members of the mahila sansad visit every family in the village to convince the family head to send their women for education. But the process has something to do with the mindset and therefore is very slow,” says Dr Sudha Kumari, a social activist.
Source: Deccan Herald
April 8, 2003