The Educational Statistics of India (ESI) released in 2018, though indicates a positive trend in the enrollment ratios of girls and boys at elementary and secondary levels, it also highlights a clear divide in the attitude toward educating a girl child and boy child.
Statistics for 2015-16 period shows that female participation up to secondary level and Gross Enrollment Ratio has exceeded that of boys. The increased participation of girls till secondary education could be attributed to several government schemes which include opening residential female schools in areas with low female literacy rates, financial incentives for female students etc.
However, at Higher Education level, the enrollment of girls is still lesser than boys. As per the ESI report, the enrollment rate for girls stands at 23.5 per cent and for boys, it is 25.4 per cent. This disparity is visible across categories and is not limited to any particular category.
A disparity is also seen when enrollment in private and government schools is compared.
In most of the Indian States, the enrolment ratio of girls is higher than that of boys for government schools and the situation is reversed for private schools. More boys are sent to private schools in comparison to girls.
"[...] Parents seem to have a preference for Private schools to educate their sons which reflects a broader sort of inequality," states the ESI report.
This trend indicates that there's more that can be done to combat the rampant belief that a boy's education is important than a girl's education.
The Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) in the Draft National Education Policy (NEP), which was placed in the public domain for comments and suggestions, said, "Social mores and biases also contribute in a serious way to discriminatory practices; for example, many communities believe that girls need not go through formal schooling."
Some of the primary reasons for this divide highlighted in the NEP include lesser availability of female teachers at Higher Education level, and accessibility to schools.
"Despite the dramatic leap in access to schooling over the past decade, there remain very serious barriers to access to early childhood and secondary education - especially for areas with large populations from educationally underrepresented groups."
As a means to address the issue of accessibility, NEP has suggested that regions where disparity among boys and girls and other underrepresented groups (URG) is huge should be declared as Special Education Zones and specialized policies and schemes are implemented in these areas.
The Draft NEP also had a provision for ''Gender-Inclusion Fund' to build the nation's capacity to provide quality and equitable education for all girls'.
Apart from measures to improve infrastructure, NEP also addresses sociological issues like social mores and gender stereotypes which cause lesser female participation in school education.
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