Girls in four Indian states are most affected by their dependency on someone to go to school. 90 per cent girls in four states - Haryana, Bihar, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh - are affected by their dependency on others to drop them to school. which acts as one of the biggest disabler. The Child Rights and You (CRY), on International Women's Day, released a study which surveyed various enablers and disablers that affect access to and continuation of girls' education. The study also explores the role of incentive schemes for boosting girl child education in India.
While dependency on someone to go to school remains the biggest disabler for girls, other factors which feature big on the list are frequent absenteeism (29 per cent) and discomfort in absence of a female teacher (18 per cent).
When the organization explored the reasons for frequent absenteeism, it found that frequent illness was the reason for close to 52 per cent girls and 46 per cent were affected by being engaged in household chores in these four states.
Other reasons that affect girls' participation in schools include infrastructural issues like poor roads and unavailability of transport to schools.
Girls in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh cited the distance and cost of transportation to school as some of the main deterrents.
Menstruation was another important reason for missing school in Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat.
"Though 87 per cent of schools reported to have separate toilets for girls, not all of them were found to have running water and hand wash facilities," the study stated.
The study included interview with more than 3,000 participants from 1,604 households across the four states.
Among the enablers self-motivation to go to school (88 per cent) and inspiration from family (87 per cent) were the most cited motivating factors for girls to go to school.
"No resistance from family (94 per cent) and community (95 per cent) were also reported as some of the prominent encouraging reasons by majority of school going girls, while 70 per cent of school going girls claimed to have received government incentives and/or benefits in the school," the study stated.
Among the most prevalent factors which affect a girl's education, the most spontaneous response was the requirement of female labour at home, indicating discontinuation of studies for the girl child. The researchers found that when both the spontaneous and the aided responses are combined, marriage of girls (66 per cent) emerges as the chief factor that affects girls' education. This is closely followed by household chores (65 per cent) and cost of education (62 per cent).
Other top responses included elopement/love affairs followed by caring for siblings, predetermined gender roles and physical insecurity of girls.
The study also assessed the effectiveness of 21 government education incentivisation schemes. Of these 12 provide monetary benefits and rest provide non-monetary incentives.
Despite large scale implementation, the study revealed that 40 per cent parents were not aware of the schemes.
"This indicates that though a number of government schemes are available for promoting girl child education, their benefits are yet to reach and touch the lives of girls due to lack of awareness and knowledge about the schemes," said Puja Marwaha, the CEO of CRY.
She added that to increase utilization of these schemes, there needs to be better implementation to ensure timely delivery of scheme benefits. There is a need to address the disablers through policy provisioning that should include 'safe and frequent transport facilities; provision of entitlements under the RTE; investing in social behaviour change and communication to enhance status of girl child, and universalising creche facilities'.
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