Rural Education for the Indian Girl Child – Challenges and Solutions

Education is fundamental right of every Indian citizen between the age of 6 to 14, irrespective of their gender or social conditions. However, the reality is that in many rural households, girls of that age are expected to stay at home, help the household or get married.

Even girls who do get the privilege of joining school, often drop out upon hitting puberty due to many societal reasons. This has been leading to a skew in the gender ratio of children who complete school in rural areas – a number which is already very low compared to urban regions.

Common education challenges faced by a girl child

A significant factor is poverty, as many children are forced by their families to drop out of school to support their income. Some families view education as an expense, rather than an investment. Due to circumstances, they are unable to understand the importance of education, even if their intentions may be to provide the best opportunities.

Sometimes, the lack of facilities such as washrooms is also a deterrent for girls to continue their education. This leads to higher drop-out rates among female children and furthers the imbalance between the ratio of educated boys and girls. Due to social factors such as child marriage or misconceptions around menstruation, some girls are allowed to go to school only up to a certain age.

In 2017, UNICEF reported that illiteracy in young rural women leads to higher rates of young pregnancies, infant and maternal mortality and overall morbidity. The overall impact on the community is real and far-reaching, so corrective steps must be taken.

How to approach solutions to this problem
Fortunately, we live in a time when technology, industrialization and the growing consumer industry can change prevalent social notions. The need for skilled manpower across industries is driving growth in the education sector and enabling more women to enter the workforce.
As the National Education Policy 2020 focuses on digital learning methods to replace the existing classroom model, education enhancement in rural India is underway. The pandemic has also delivered new platforms and possibilities for education from home, for those who can afford and administer it. Technology can drive transformative change through e-learning platforms, online courses from the best institutions and flexible study plans.
However, a mentality shift is most important. Getting the right mentorship to students and parents must be driven by governments, corporates and communities. They must work closely together to drive sustainable behavioral change. As communities adopt gender-free education practices, more women can get empowered through education.
This can have a ripple effect on their families and communities. As per McKinsey’s gender parity report from 2018, India can add $770 billion to the GDP by 2025 if girls get more education and opportunities for workforce participation.
For children living in rural areas, relying on others for help is not ideal. But it’s often the only option they have. They need civil society, public bodies and the private sector to come together and responsibly upgrade the rural education system to make it gender-equitable. Everyone has a crucial role to play.
Aarav Solutions has launched SANVID, an initiative to provide equal learning opportunities in digital technology, life skills and personality development for school students in rural India. The initiative is positioned to create many successful entrepreneurs from the Indian hinterland, where talent and opportunity rarely meet. Thanks to Aarav Solutions’ trainings, this is becoming a reality and young students are pursuing bigger dreams.

The authored article is written by Ms. Varsha K. Varsani and shared with Prittle Prattle News exclusively.

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