Why aren't girls going to school in rural India?
It is an undeniable fact that India has made considerable progress in terms of sending her girls to schools for preliminary education. Rather, over the last few decades, a lot has been done to uplift the status of women on all fronts. However, it is always sensible to look at both sides of the story, and an overall analysis of the current scenario tells us that in rural India, the state of things aren’t as bright and satisfactory. There still prevails widespread illiteracy amongst girls of rural India, and there are a number of factors that are holding them back from attending schools.
Unequal distribution of resources as well as deep-rooted discrimination has not only suppressed girls and in a way has also led to the poor provision and content of education, thus, severely confining the ability of girls to enter, and remain in, schools. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons that are responsible:
Gender discrimination : Even if education opportunities are made available to girls in villages, it would be closer to reality to state that they are not able to make as much of it as her male counterparts, owing to the age-old cultural and social beliefs, attitudes and practices that are prevalent amongst rural communities. The powerful economic and social rationale has instilled a notion in the minds of the rural population that investing in the son’s education is much more profitable and prudent, as educated daughters are perceived to be less worthy in terms of a home-maker and “marriage material”, as well as less likely to abide by the will of the male authorities around her.
Violence against girls in schools : The persisting violence against girls, a more common occurrence in rural India, is not only a direct violation of human rights but it also plays a role in denying girls the right to access education. Being a frequent reality, this is one of the prime reasons for girls dropping out of school. Violence includes any forms such as teasing, threats, physical/psychological intimidation, rape, sexual harassment etc. apart from the rural schools failing to preserve the dignity of girls, often they are also not up to the mark in terms of providing adequate facilities, like proper toilets, running water, etc. what’s worse, such drawbacks of the entire system often do not come to public notice due to under-reporting, large-scale indifference/ignorance, difficulty in researching such issues, cultural negligence etc.
Early marriage and pregnancy : The underestimation of girls’ education in the minds of the rural folks reinforces early marriage pregnancy, thus trapping young girls in a vicious cycle of deprivation.
Lack of funding : Despite having made commendable advancements, girls’ education still remains as the lowest budget priority and of the least favoured areas in public policy. Poverty and the need to prioritize compel rural people to deny education to their girls. They cannot afford to lose the girls’ labour in housework, which affects their food production and wage labour.
Lack of government schools : Often, the authorities do not take into account girls’ needs and concerns while planning for rural education schemes and initiatives. Further, travelling long distances for attending schools is a distant possibility for village-girls, due to safety factors, parental opposition, cultural insistence on female seclusion etc. and thus the chain of female illiteracy is allowed to perpetuate.
Besides these factors, other reasons such as girls being employed as child labour, be it at home or outside, as well as lack of encouragement from family, and the society at large hinders their proper educational growth. Thus, girls in rural India are not allowed to come into full flowering, and their calibre remains unjustly unexplored. We need to open our eyes to the immense benefits that will be ensured if all our girls receive elementary school-education, and the leaps and bounds that our country will prosper by, if we let our girls be academically empowered.