Education & Women by Supriya Samant
For many years, from about BC 300, there was practically no education for women in India. Only a few women of the upper castes and upper classes were given some education at home. But, even here, there was tremendous social resistance. Literacy of women at that time was looked upon as a disgrace. The notion of providing education to female children never entered into the minds of parents.
The aged old traditions practiced in our society has always perceived Indian women image in the form of traditional home-maker and that of a man as a bread winner.
Primary education in India is not universal. Overall, the literacy rate for women is 39 percent versus 64 percent for men.
Illiterate women have high levels of fertility and mortality, poor nutritional status, low earning potential, and little autonomy within the household. A woman’s lack of education also has a negative impact on the health and well-being of her children. For instance, a recent survey in India found out that infant mortality is inversely related to mother’s educational level.
Barriers for Female Education:
High Drop Out Rates : Girl children are often made to drop out from school in order to care for their siblings and to take care of house hold chores so that their parents can work as daily wage earners to earn day to day living.
Priority to sons academics as compared to Daughter’s academics. : Still most of our population is settled in rural areas and two tier /three tier cities. Here the parents feel educating a girl child is like watering somebody else garden , as some day the daughter will be married and she will go to another home.
Hence parents usually try to give priority to son’s education as they feel their son will look after them in old age.
Some of the solution to this is to have more female teachers in school, usually Girls are more likely to attend school and have higher academic achievement, if they have female teachers. Currently, women account for only 29 percent of teachers at the primary level (MHRD, 1993).
We need to get the Gender Bias in Curriculum removed.
Our school text books still portray men and women in gender stereo-typed roles. However, a study of Indian textbooks done in the 1980s found that men were the main characters in the majority of lessons. In these lessons, men held high-prestige occupations and were portrayed as strong, adventurous and intelligent.
In contrast, when women were included, they were depicted as weak and helpless, often as the victims of abuse and beatings. These depictions are strong barriers for improving women’s position in society.
This picture is changing in Modern India; Our Government is continuously working on creation, of girl child education awareness through campaigns like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, free primary schooling . Mid day meals and so on.
Our media and social institutions have also started to recognize and applaud the Heroics of women , which in turn have encouraged the parents to come out of the conservative , orthodox approach and educate their daughters in different fields, by means of which she can be independent and pursue the career of her choice.
We have today women excelling in every field be it Armed Forces, space science, sports,entertainments, Business and the list goes on.
The change in mindset has started, But the process is slow , it is only if we initiate the same with our family members and our relatives , I am sure we will become the change agents for modern India and each women will be able to pursue her dreams and live with grace and dignity.
Let us all help her to embrace this change.