Saturday, 31 December 2011

Girl Child – Future of India: With Special Reference to Strategies for Girl Child Education in Andhra Pradesh

   Girl Child – Future of India:
  With Special Reference to Strategies for Girl Child Education in Andhra Pradesh

(This article was presented in the National Seminar on “Care and Protection of Girl Child: Status, Emerging Issues, Challenges and Way Forward at Lucknow University, Lucknow)   

                                                                                                                -Dr. S. Vijay Kumar
Girl child is the future of every nation and India is no exception. A little amount of care, a handful of warmth and a heart full of love for a girl child can make a big difference. Close your eyes, free your thoughts and hear the voice of God, He is saying something to all of us, “Save Me”. India is a country where social disadvantage outweighs natural biological advantage of being a girl. A whole range of discriminatory practices including female foeticide, female infanticide, female genital mutilation, son idolization, early marriage and dowry have buried the future of the nation. In India, discriminatory practices have greatly influenced the health and well-being of a girl child, resulting in a higher mortality rate.It is said that God created mothers because He could not be present everywhere. Its unbelievable to realize that a God’s representative is continuously killing someone beautiful even before she can come out and see the beauty of nature.
In India, the girl child has been a topic of discussions and debates for the past several decades but, even today, the position appears to remain unchanged. The girl was always an unwanted child, and was found killed at birth. With the advancement of Science and Technology this killing has only gone still further - for now the girl child is being killed even before birth. The present scenario in which the girl child is mercilessly killed even before birth, does not speak too well about the fate of this species. The scenario is so varied that, it is really difficult to understand what we are really doing or trying to do in this regard. On the one hand we see girls entering in the fields of all kinds of professions holding senior positions in offices, becoming engineers, doctors, managers etc. We are obviously impressed and are likely to believe that, the position of the girl is now after all not too bad.
However, the complexity of the problem becomes malicious when we see that, together with girls entering professions there is a simultaneous and continuous rise in the graph of crimes against women. Why and how do these two sides of the same problem co-relate, is a mind-boggling situation. This situation is true of the urban area where education and freedom is given to girls - to a great extent, but even this growth of this class does not really bear any testimony to the equality of girls with boys.
The rural areas consisting of the major chunk of the Indian population see no - yes absolutely no change in the general attitude towards girls. In the villages, girls are not sent to schools and, if at all they are, they drop out after an year or two of schooling. Here, the myth still remains that, education is useless for girls - they have to concentrate on house work, child bearing and child bringing up all through life - and all this, it is believed needs no education. The village people are hard to convince that education of women is as important if not more important than the education of men.
In the village, the girl child has no say in anything in the home, not even things of her own concern - she is, even to-day in the 21st Century treated as an object to be used instead of an individual human being with all the ingredients of human beings - like her counterparts - the boy. She,  even today remains to have the status of an object to be used or dispensed with at the whims and fancies of her male family members. With this psyche of the average Indian adult, I personally see no light at the end of the dark tunnel.
In my view, even for the urban areas, the prospects of the girl child are not too bright as, even while women are acquiring status and positions in the office - firstly, they do not get the respect the male counterparts get in the offices. Besides no matter what status a woman may achieve outside home, inside the home she, by and large remains a chattel. When this is the ground reality of the girl at home and outside home it appears that, even education and financial independence have not helped women really enhancing their status vis-à-vis the status of men.
Let us analyze as to why this peculiar situation persists and how we should deal with it. My personal view is that the rise of women and the crime against women going hand in hand is a paradox but not difficult to understand. It is very clear that, the men who have held the fort single handedly for centuries, would obviously not like to give up their importance, or even share it with women. It is they who resent this rise of the heads of women and so, before women rise to unchallengeable heights the ogre of man wants to crush them.
This he does by using his God gifted physical strength and it is this reason that, crimes against women are now on the rise. The woman who was earlier battered because she was considered a lesser being is now being battered, because she is potential challenge to man's unquestioned supremacy through past several centuries. Thus, the position remains unchanged even after education and financial independence.
To my mind, there is no single package that could improve matters for the girl child/woman except that men change their attitude towards women. Unless men start regarding women as their equal partners, in the growth of humanity this differentiation between men and women shall continue unabated. No single item of achievement like education, profession, legal rights or even the mixture of all these will work out a solution - the only feasible solution is the change of mind, the change of attitude of the men towards women. Till this is done, no amount of teaching, preaching or bargaining will help the girl child.
At this juncture when we talk of attitude, I must add that even women have to change their attitude towards the girl child/ women. At least partly women are themselves responsible for their position. As women it is they who pamper their sons and husbands till they begin to believe that they are really superior beings. Let us all, men and women change our attitudes in this regard and, I am sure it will reap pleasant results.
It’s painful to confess that the trend still exists in various parts of the country. States like Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Punjab are most popular for practicing female foeticide and infanticide.
Poverty, gender discrimination and son preference have also influenced the nutritional status of a girl child. There are almost 75 million malnourished children existing in the country. It is estimated that 75% of the total malnourished children are girls who show signs of chronic and acute malnutrition. Girls who manage to cross this hard phase of life, gets trapped by the evil society during adolescence and teenage. These are the stages where more nutrition is required for normal growth and development. Unfortunately, nutritional needs are neglected for girls and they are often kept locked within the four walls.
Exacerbate discrimination against female for nutrition and education has led to an increase in child marriage, reduction in fertility rates and population growth, potentially, women’s participation in nurturing the future of every nation. Improper nutrition during adolescence results in various reproductive health disorders. The effects of these disorders further exacerbates by early marriage, closely spaced pregnancies, poor access to information about family planning, traditional practices, etc.
International agreements
Three key international agreements that provide added standards for governments in realizing reproductive health and rights are the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development; the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women; and the 2001 and 2006 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS. These landmark agreements promote human rights, gender equality and empowerment as critical to the overall development and well-being of women, girls and young women. In the context of the HIV epidemic, governments pledged at their meeting in 2001 to progress by 2005 on a number of actions. They pledged to “ensure development and accelerated implementation of national strategies for women’s empowerment, the promotion and protection of women’s full enjoyment of all human rights and reduction of their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS through the elimination of all forms of discrimination, as well as forms of violence against women and girls, including harmful traditional and customary practices ...”The failure of many HIV programmes to integrate reproductive health concerns in areas of high prevalence amounts to discrimination against child brides, who are more likely to require frequent use of reproductive health services.
The right to education
Several studies recognize that child marriage limits girls’ rights to education. The essence of the rights to education and to health is that they facilitate and ensure the effective enjoyment of other human rights. Their denial results in the denial of other rights such as the right to work, the right to life and so on. Many child brides are withdrawn from school before they have the opportunity to acquire the relevant skills, abilities and self-confidence that will enable them to enjoy or exercise these other key human rights
entitlements.
“International human rights law lays down a three-way set of criteria, whereby girls should have an equal right to education and equal rights in education, and their equal rights should be promoted through education.” The denial of formal education means that child brides are often deprived of opportunities to access in-school programmes on HIV prevention and reproductive health information. The Convention on the Rights of the Child addresses other essential rights in relation to education. They include the right to educational and vocational information and guidance as well as the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. In addition, schools are better suited to deliver the ICPD Programme of Action, including the call for programmes to meet the reproductive health needs of young people.
Current status of the Girl child (11th FYP):
A perusal of the various indicators reflects the dismal situation of the girl child. The sharp
decline in female sex ratios over the years suggests that female foeticide and infanticide
might be primarily responsible for this phenomenon followed by general neglect of the girl child The sex ratio has been dwindling even in States like Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat which are supposed to be economically prosperous. Female infanticide has been reported from parts of Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The magnitude of girl child mortality is reflected from the fact that every year, about 12 million girls are born in India; a third of these girls die in the first year of their life; three million, or 25 per cent, do not survive to see their fifteenth birthday. The child mortality rate between 0- 4 years for girl child is 20.6%, two percent more than that of boys (18.6%). The root cause of malnutrition amongst girls is not just poverty and lack of nutritious food, but also like lack of value attached to girls. Discriminatory feeding practices reveal:
ü      Girl’s nutritional intake is inferior in quality and quantity;
ü      Boys have access to more nutritious food;
ü      Boys are given first priority with the available food within the family;
ü      Female infants are breastfed less frequently, for shorter duration and over a shorter period than boys. Gender discrimination results in malnutrition of girls on a large scale; 56 percent of girls (15- 19 years) continue to suffer from anemia; 45 per cent of the girls suffer from stunted growth as opposed to 20per cent of boys. Due to dietary deficiencies, adolescent girls do not achieve their potential weight and height. Also, 35 per cent of rural adolescent girls have a weight below 38 kg and a height below 145 cm. Anemia is often responsible for miscarriages, still mortality
Strategies for Girl Child Education in Andhra Pradesh
Major Policies and Schemes paving way for Girl Child Education
NPE also stressed that the recruitment of at least 50 per cent of the teachers should be
women to create conducive atmosphere for girl children in schools. This program also had laid down the concept of Minimum levels of learning according to which irrespective of caste, creed, location or sex, all children must be given access to education of a comparable standard. This strategy for improving the quality of elementary education is an attempt to combine quality with equity. It lays down learning outcomes in the form of competencies or levels of learning for each stage of elementary education. The strategy also prescribes the adoption of measures that will ensure achievement of these levels by children both in the formal schools as well as NFE centers. The NPE also introduced the scheme Operation Black Board in 1987 to provide minimum essential facilities to all primary schools in the country.
Elementary Education
NPE proposed to set up new primary schools according to the norms in unserved
habitations5. These schools were supposed to be opened by the State Governments
following the norms specified under Operation Blackboard. The norms of OBB specified that there should be atleast two teachers in a primary school and one of them should be a
woman teacher and each primary school should have at least two pucca classrooms. NPE
also recommended the expansion of infrastructure at the upper primary level to increase
enrolment at this stage. The norm of providing an upper primary school within 3 km walking distance has been relaxed to benefit the girl child.
Secondary Education
Access to secondary education was proposed to be widened with emphasis on enrolment of girls, SCs and STs, particularly in science, commerce and vocational streams. Boards of Secondary Education were also proposed to be reorganised and vested with autonomy so that their ability to improve the quality of secondary education is enhanced6. A program of computer literacy (CLASS) was implemented in secondary level institutions to ensure that the children are equipped with necessary computer skills to be effective in the emerging technological world. Children with special talent or aptitude were provided opportunities to proceed at a faster pace, by making good quality education available to them, irrespective of their capacity to pay for it through the Pace-setting residential schools, Navodaya Vidyalayas. Their broad aim was to serve the objective of excellence coupled with equity and social justice (with reservation for the rural areas, SCs and STs), to promote national integration by providing opportunities to talented children from different parts of the country, to live and learn together, to develop their full potential, and, most importantly, to become catalysts of a nation-wide programme of school improvement.
Policy Parameters
The policy parameters and the strategies of the NPE to promote girls’ education were aimed:
  • To get the entire education system to play positive interventionist role in the
       empowerment of women.
  • To encourage educational institutions to take up active programs to enhance women status and further women development in all sectors.
  • To widen women access to vocational technical and professional education at all levels breaking gender stereotypes; and
  • To create dynamic management structure that will be able to respond to the challenge posed by the mandate.
Schemes
  • Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Project (APPEP)
  • Operation Blackboard (OBB)
  • District Institutes of Educational Training (DIET)
  • District Primary Education Programme(DPEP)
  • National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (School Meal
Programme)(NPNSPE)
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)
  • The National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary (NPEGEL)
  • Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV)
Strategies for Girl Child Education
  • Capacity building for the officers of the education department who are designated as enforcement officers
  • All incentives provided for girls by different departments like education social welfare, tribal welfare, women and child welfare, projects like SSA, Velugu, NCLP etc to be disbursed to the beneficiaries in the gram sabhas.
  • Every Primary school to have a pre- primary section in villages where Anganwadi
      Centers are not available, which will relieve the girl child of the sibling burden.
  • Sensitizing functionaries on girl child education.
  • To ensure atleast one female teacher in every Primary, Upper Primary and
       Secondary School.
  • Sensitizing teachers on gender issues and steps to be taken by the teachers
            encouraging girls’ student participation in the classroom activities, co-curricular
      activities to ensure equity in participation and attainment.
  • Infrastructural facilities to be enhanced for schools with high Girls enrolment.
  • Provision of adequate classrooms and sanitation facilities in all secondary schools to facilitate retention of girls.
Towards better learning leading to empowerment of girls
    • Teachers to be made responsible to pay special attention for better learning of children particularly girls.
    • Tutorial classes for slow learners including girls of Classes VII and X in Mathematics and Science.
    • School level physical education activities are to be organised and separate events are to be organise for girls.
    • Launching of confidence developing measures through various monetary and material incentives for the continuation of girls education atleast till secondary level.
    • Cash incentives to SC/ST girls with more than 80% aggregate in SSC
    • Panchayats and Self Help Groups (SHGs). Mechanisms of grading of schools based on the enrolment and retention of children, performance of students, conducive school environment for girl child etc.
To conclude, even to-day in the 21st Century the position remains unchanged even after education and financial independence. Hence, people and Governments must be committed to protect the girl child – future hope of all nations. Other-wise, it leads to imbalance in sex – ratio and this in turn will lead to many evils in the society.   
References:
“From Girl Child to Person”, UNESCO, 1995
 Jandhyala Kameswari; “ Bringing Child Labor into Schools”
“Review of Child Labour, Education and Poverty Agenda, India Country Report,
2006”
Programme of Action, 1990
Sub-group Report Girl Child in the 11th FYP (2007-2012)
India Education Report, A Profile of Basic Education, NIEPA,2002
Report of the Sixth All India Education Survey in Andhra Pradesh, (VI AIES), 1993
Selected Educational Statistics, Director of School Education , AP, Hyderabad
Statistical Abstract of Andhra Pradesh
National Policy on Education, 1986
NFHS – 2, Andhra Pradesh 1998 – 99
http://www.education.nic.in/

1 comment:

  1. Vijay your recent articles - "Quality Prarametres in Higher Education A review" and
    Empowerment of Women through SHGs in AP"
    -Megha

    ReplyDelete