[Answered] Give an account of progress made by India in improving gender equality in the education system. Mention various government efforts towards women education in India.

Demand of the question Introduction. Contextual introduction. Body. Discuss the progress made by India in improving gender equality in the education system. Mention various government efforts towards women education in India. Conclusion. Way forward.

Women education is an important tool to achieve gender equality. For a long time women have been deprived of their rights. By pacing woman education India can achieve the goal of social development and economic progress.

Changing patterns of gender parity and equality in Education:

  1. Trends in Literacy: In recent years, India has reportedly shown an improvement at each level of education for boys as well as for girls. As per 2011 census, the female literacy levels are 65.46% from 53.67% of 2001. Literacy rate in India has reported the maximum hike for rural women at 26% in the last decade.
  2. Gross enrolment ratio: Gross enrolment ratio at the elementary level is 94.32% as against 89.28% for boys, at the secondary level is 81.32% as compared to 78% and at the higher secondary level girls have achieved a level of 59.7% compared to only 57.54 %.
  3. Labour participation: According to the ‘World Employment and Social Outlook Trends for Women’ 2018 report, more women than ever before are both educated and participating in the labour market today.
  4. Improved sanitation: Due to the Swachh Bharat Mission, about 14 lakh schools now have a functioning girl’s toilet, an increase of 4.17 % points in comparison to 2013-14. The impact of the mission has resulted in an increase in enrolment of girls by 25% points in 2018-19 from 2013-14.
  5. Higher education: The number of girls in NITs has grown from 14.11 % in 2017-18 to 17.53 % in 2019-20 and in IITs from 8 % of the total student body in 2016 to 18 % in 2019-20 for B.Tech programmes.

Issues in women education:

  1. Gap in upper primary and secondary schooling: While female enrolment has increased rapidly since the 1990s, there is still a substantial gap in upper primary and secondary schooling.
  2. High drop-out rates: Increased female enrolment is, compromised by persistently high rates of drop-out and poor attendance of girls relative to boys. Girls also constitute a large proportion of out-of-school children.
  3. Inter-state variations: There are also considerable inter-state variations in gender parity. While the greatest surges in female enrolment have been achieved in the most educationally disadvantaged states such as Bihar and Rajasthan, these states still have a long way to go to catch up with the better performing states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh.
  4. Son preference: Some studies suggest that girls are over-represented in the government schools, demonstrating continuing son preference where boys (highlighted in economic survey 2018) are educated in private and better schools which are of (perceived) better quality.

Various government efforts towards women education in India:

  1. Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme: It aims to generate awareness and also improve the efficiency of welfare services for the girl child. The initial aim of the campaign was to address the declining child sex ratio but it also include propagating education, survival and protection of the girl child.
  2. Digital Gender Atlas: Ministry of Human Resource Development has prepared a digital gender atlas for advancing girls’ education in India.
  3. National Scheme of Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education (NSIGSE):The objective of the scheme is to establish an enabling environment to reduce the drop outs and to promote the enrolment of girl children in secondary schools.
  4. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan: In order to ensure greater participation of girls in elementary education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has targeted interventions for girls which include opening of schools, appointment of additional women teachers, separate toilets for girls, teachers’ sensitisation programmes etc. In addition, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas has been opened in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs).
  5. Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA): It envisages enhancing the quality of education by providing a secondary school within a reasonable distance of every habitation, improving quality of education imparted at secondary level, removal of gender, socio-economic and disability barriers.
  6. Udaan: CBSE has launched ‘Udaan’ to provide free online resources to girl students of Class XI and Class XII for preparation. The special focus of the scheme is to address the low enrolment ratio of girl students in prestigious institutions.
  7. STEM education: To increase the participation of women in STEM education, supernumerary seats have been created in the IITs and NITs.

Trends suggest that though much has been done in policy terms to increase female access to schooling, notably through improving access to primary schooling, there are still major policy challenges to be met. Efforts are needed to improve the quality of schools and ensure better opportunities for girls at higher levels of education, notably upper primary and secondary school.

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