Indian women excelled in the most decorated Olympic Games for India. There is no reason for it to be otherwise in any other field, especially education, given the right support. As a nation, we can ill-afford to ignore half the potential workforce if we aspire to be an economic powerhouse. As a society, women can be the pivot to bring about critical and lasting social transformation. As individuals, they deserve a shot at being the very best they can.
Need for Girl Education and its outcomes
- Healthy, educated girls with equal access to opportunities can grow into strong, smart women who can take on leadership roles in their countries.
- The global average for the private rate of return (the increase in an individual’s earnings) with just one extra year of schooling is about 9 per cent, while the social returns of an extra year of school are even higher above 10 per cent at the secondary and higher education levels as per a decennial World Bank review.
- Interestingly, the private returns for women in higher education are much higher than for men 11 to 17 per cent as per different estimates.
- This has clear policy implications. For their own empowerment, as well as for society at large, we must bring more and more women within the ambit of higher education.
- Pandemic-induced school closures and economic hardships have significantly exacerbated many vectors that influence the problem of women in education.
- As girls progress from primary to secondary to tertiary school levels, their numbers decrease by the year.
Steps to overcome systemic challenges
- First, as an immediate step, in every locality, a mohalla school or a community learning programme should be started.
- Evidence from the Ebola pandemic shows that continued engagement with educational activities reduces drop-outs in a statistically significant way.
- Second, to predict likely drop-outs, a gender atlas comprising indicators that are mapped to key reasons for school drop-outs should be developed.
- Third, there is a need to revise the National Scheme of Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education in areas or states with high prevalence of drop-outs and early child marriages.
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