Women’s Education in India is an essential topic to discuss. Women are often seen as the ones who take care of the house and the family. Many women in India are not provided with primary education and are forced to stay at home. Women’s education is necessary for the growth of the country. Women are often not educated because of age-old beliefs that they must remain at home. Many cultures see women as a burden, especially in poor households, where the families send the boy child to school while the girl child stays at home and helps her mother. The lack of safety for women is another reason why they are not educated.However, times are changing, and today the demand for education is higher. Women’s Education in India is essential to remove the social evils that prevent them from getting an education. Through education, they can learn about how to take care of their health and hygiene. They can start working and earn money, which will improve their standard of living. Education also contributes to the growth and development of India. Education for women in cities and villages is essential. International Literacy Day is commemorated all over the world, including India, on September 8th.The overall literacy rate for women increased from 0.2% in 1882 to 6% in 1947. In western India, Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule became pioneers of female education when they started a school for girls in 1848 in Pune.The Indian government has expressed a strong commitment towards education for all, however, India still has one of the lowest female literacy rates in Asia. In 1991, less than 40 percent of the 330 million women aged 7 and over were literate, which means today there are over 200 million illiterate women in India.
How can we end illiteracy?
Illiteracy creates several hurdles in the development of a country and affects every person in that country. Here are five ways by which we can end illiteracy in India:
1. Inclusive Education
The RTE Act (2009) has resulted in increased enrolment of children in schools, but the Act is applicable for children between 6-14 years of age. Children, especially girl children, who drop out of school after 14 years of age, find it almost impossible to continue their education. The purview of the Act must be increased to make education accessible to every individual.
2. Increased investment in government schools
Due to lack of funds, the government schools are unable to invest in providing basic facilities to children. Lack of functioning toilets, hand-washing area, and drinking water compels children, especially girl children to drop out of school. On the other hand, private schools with high-end facilities charge exorbitant fee making it impossible for those from the marginalised communities to access services. Increasing government expenditure in public schools will make them more accessible.
3. Vocational Training
Often school education alone does not provide the skills required to enter the workforce. The current system of rote learning without practical training affects the quality of education and fails to develop employable skill sets. Thus, vocational training is important to fill this gap. Carpentry, plumbing, stitching, and nursing are some of the skills which can help individuals seek fulfilling employment.
4. Teacher training
The education system cannot be enhanced without trained and educated teachers. Lack of qualified teachers in both public and private schools impact learning outcomes of children. There is a need for drastic changes to ensure that schools hire qualified teachers, availability of qualified teachers, and opportunities for individuals to be trained as teachers.
5. Changing social norms
Social norms play a huge role in determining the growth of a country. Regressive social norms result in girls dropping out schools or children not being sent to school at all, and this creates a vicious cycle of illiteracy and patriarchal norms for even future generations.
By Himanshu Deswal
Advocate Supreme Court of India