Educate a Girl, Educate a Nation!

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Educate a Girl, Educate a Nation

“When you educate a man, you educate an individual and when you educate a woman, you educate an entire family.

This declaration is multi-faceted— an educated woman has the self-confidence, skills as well as intelligence to understand the need to be a better human, professional, family member, and mother to make a progressive nation. Education is the only tool with which a girl or a woman can empower herself and eventually her family and community.

India holds a strong focus and dedication to educating all children, especially the girl child. By declaring education as a fundamental right, India ensures constitutional provisions for providing free and compulsory education to all children between 6 to 14 years of age. This programme by the Government of India introduced as the 86th Amendment to the Constitution of India is widely known as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan aimed at the universalisation of Elementary education “in a time-bound manner”.

When Families Turn Against The Girl Child

Even after declaring education as a fundamental right, there are numerous hurdles that prohibit a girl child from actually getting an education. The biggest hurdle is the prejudices that families have about girls— like girls are slow learners, they are not rational; they are to be confined inside the domestic household, so why bother educating them?

Only a handful of people have actually realized the importance of educating a girl. Though not a direct cause, the infamous and still prevailing dowry system is also another barrier to girl child education. Families often think of a girl as a burden and often want to save the money for their dowry rather than spend it on her education.

Girls Are No Less

A girl is no less than a boy; if anything, they are all the more diligent, hardworking, and consistent in their effort towards anything. A girl should be educated in order to ensure a better life for herself. If she is empowered she would be in a condition to add on the income of the family and raise the living condition of her family.

As goes the saying from the Rig Veda, “The home has, verily, its foundation in the wife.” An educated mother can give better care to her children. Since she is the first teacher of the child, her education will make her well-versed to inculcate a good value system in her child. An uneducated mother might not understand the idea of proper hygiene and sanitation leading to a lack of proper care for herself and the child. Malnourishment is a living example of this problem.

Important Interventions for Girl Child Education

The government of India has initiated various programmes and policies to ensure that a girl does not miss out on any opportunity of getting an education. After independence, the government set up a National Committee on Women’s Education in 1958, and it recommended that female education should be at par with male education. In the year 1964, the Education Commission was set up, which largely talked about focusing on educating the girl child. The government came up with the ‘New Education Policy’ in the year 1968, which focused on overall education in both rural and urban areas. The policy has undergone important revisions in its 2020 version.

Mahila Samakhya Programme’ is a programme that comes under the New Education Policy and was formed in the year 1988. This particular programme focuses on the empowerment of women who belong to the marginalised group.

The National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) was started in 2003 to ensure access to education for girls who could not benefit from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Under this scheme model schools have been set up and it covers 24 states.

Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme was launched in 2004 in order to provide primary-level education to girls. The scheme was specially designed for underprivileged girls in the rural areas.

It’s About A Mindset Change

Even after so many programmes and policies of the government, we are still lagging behind in providing education to the girl child. The problem here is not in implementation but in the level of commitment of people in general.

Until we create awareness amongst people about the benefits of women education, all these programmes would not bring about the desired result. We fail to understand that men and women are two sides of the same coin— a girl is as much a part of society as a boy. They are both the futures of tomorrow. They both need to be given equal opportunities for the wholesome growth of the nation. 

This fight against the two sexes is inconsequential. When God did not make us unequal then who are humans to make that difference? Rather than looking at it as an opportunity to subjugate our girls and women, let’s look at this through the lens of two parts of a puzzle that complete each other peacefully. Men too do better when women are empowered. A world without the gentleness of women would be a bleak place to live in. Let us give our girl children a chance to show their capabilities and live their dreams by being thoughtful and making small but meaningful donations for them.

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