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A Beautiful Gift Called Education

It is 4.30 in the morning. Dimple,11, gets up to clean her house,situated in a village just outside Delhi. She then goes on to prepare food for her family, feeds her 7 year old brother,and with drowsy eyes, makes her way to the local school. Both her parents work as laborers in Delhi. She knows that it is matter of time before her mother would force her to drop out of school, to work with them on the fields.

Not very far from Delhi, in the state of Rajasthan, lives 15 year-old Janvi. She attends school and harbors a secret dream of joining the Police Force. But soon she will be married off to a man, almost thrice her age, and forced to live a life of domestic servitude.

Despite the tall claims by the Government and efforts made under the Right To Education Act, reports have shown that a shocking 53% of girls have failed to enroll in schools.Though we have made considerable progress in terms of literacy rate, access to girls' education still remains an uphill task.

Education for me has been more than reading and writing.I have valued it as a gift,since childhood. But for millions of girls in India, this was not the case. For many acquiring education remained a distant dream.

Barriers:

In a culturally diverse country like India, there are inter related and socially constructed gender disparity factors that contribute in prohibiting girls' access to education. Below are listed the most important ones:

Cultural : World Bank economists have noticed that economies "that have a preference for not investing in girls pay a price for it in terms of slower growth and reduced income." India is a shining example of this. Girls here are considered as " Paraya Dhan ". In English it means - other's property. Girls are viewed as liabilities, wherein post marriage, they are expected to concentrate on household chores, tasks for which education is deemed unnecessary.

Child marriage: Though illegal under law, more than 40% of world's child marriages happen in India. This social evil has forced many young girls to drop out of schools. It has denied them of their childhood, increased the risk of abuse and jeopardized their health. Parents, in the hope of ensuring their daughters do not involve in pre-marital sex, have found child marriage to be an easy way to fix this.

Sanitation facilities: Hygienic parameters need to be considered, when discussing the high drop out rate of girls from schools. There have been reports that link girls' attendance rates to their menstrual cycles and sanitation facilities available at schools.Inadequate facilities like non availability of separate toilets or absence of clean water supply,leads to absenteeism and high drop outs especially in the age group of 9-14 years.

Economic : In India,families with low economic opportunities, cannot cope if their children do not work. Girls are invariably the first to be withdrawn from schools if money is short or if household needs attention.

Security threat: For many girls, especially in villages,absence from school is also related to safety. Sometimes girls risk being abducted or raped on the often long way to school.

Gender Disparity at work : Mostly in developing countries, women earn less than men even if they have the same education and experience.In India,economic returns are better for boys than girls, which makes parents unfavorable to support girls ' education.

Unfortunately the barriers are many but there is no single solution to tackle it. Improved social, economical and political mindset is required to better the situation.

Firstly the schools and homes need to be gender sensitized. We require more women teachers who can handle girls' issues and act as role models.

Building of separate toilets at public schools will encourage the girls to stay longer and complete her education.

Change in social attitude alone, cannot bridge the gap. Even the labor market need to address the issue of equal pay effectively. Nationalized Banks can come forward and assist in low interest loans to families looking for their daughters' education.

With campaigns on TV and plays in schools and village level, we can highlight the benefits of girls' education on a larger scale. The evils of child marriage, child labor and dowry needs to be shown the door.

Equal access to education forms the foundation for eradicating poverty,combating disease and ensuring sustainable growth. By keeping our daughters uneducated, we are missing out on one half of the potential workforce.

We need to understand that the gift of education is for all. By promoting girls' education,we are increasing the chances of a happier and healthier present and a brighter future generation.

"Educating girls is not an option, it is a necessity"- Kofi Annan.

P.S. I have attached a link to a video by HEEALS which highlight the sanitation problems girls face in India. Do watch it !

http://vimeo.com/58771979

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

Education is the best gift parents can give to their children, especially to daughters. Throughout South Asia, girls' education has been a giant challenge. I hope our society would understand that educating a girl is educating a family and making a building block of an educated community. Wonderful sharing, keep writing, Mukut! I hope your father is fine now.

Mukut's picture

Thank you darling

Thank you so much for reading my post. Yes, education is empowerment and girls need the power of education to bring change. My father is better today. Thank you for asking.

Love

Mukut Ray

Tash's picture

YES! equal access to

YES! equal access to education does eradicate poverty and ensures sustainable development, so it becomes relevant for governments not to just implement policies but make a crucial follow up and ensure girls too have equal opportunities as the boys.
I am glad to hear your father is okay from whatever happened.
it was a good read and articulate.
all the best!x

Kind Regards,
Patsy.

Mukut's picture

Thank you Patsy

Thank you for the encouraging and sweet words. Yes my dad is OK. Waiting for him to come home.

Appreciate your feedback.

Love

Mukut Ray

Taha Mirani's picture

Another awesome post

Love all your posts, dear Mukut. You have rightly pointed out the areas upon which much work needs to be done. Soon we would do away with all the barriers. The need is to keep our goals firm.

Love

Taha Mirani

Mukut's picture

Thank you

Thank you for those wonderful words.
Education to me has been so much more. It has shaped me. Build me. It is unfortunate that in India, so many girls go without education.

It is truly a gift which i value. Slowly things are changing here. Parents have realized that to teach a girl child, is the way forward.

Thank you for stopping by. You are a soulful writer yourself. Keep it up.

Love

Mukut Ray

ola.mahadi's picture

you pointed out important issues

Dear Mukut,
Great post and valid points i can realate to some of there here in Sudan too.
Good luck

It is never too late to try make your way to your dream and left up your expectation.
Sudanes Women Building Peace
www.suwepmovement.org

Mukut's picture

Thank you

Great to hear from you Ola. Thank you for your comments.

How is Sudan? What major problems do girls face there in accessing education ? Am just little curious.

Love n hugs

Mukut Ray

Jumi's picture

Essential necessity

It is essential that both genders are educated. Mukut, thanks for pointing out the barriers to education faced by girls in India. We must take action and change this.

Mukut's picture

Education is for all

Yes, Jumi . I believe education is for all and is especially important for personal growth and economic growth of a country. I wish to see every girl of my community get access to quality education. Get to read books, share, write and enjoy the process of learning.

Building a nation on equality will take some time for now. But we will get there. Bit by bit.

Thank you for reading my post and writing such beautiful lines. Appreciate it.

love,

Mukut Ray

j3ssm3ss's picture

Food for Thought

This article was really informative Mukut - Quite different from other assignments I've read, thank you. It had never occurred to me feminine hygiene could be a barrier to girls' education! It really highlights how many and multiple the difficulties are - such a complex issue. I like the way you begin with some "case studies" too. I would love to hear more about your situation and what you see or how it affects you. Have you been lucky enough to avoid all the pitfalls you describe - Do you also feel this pressure?

Mukut's picture

Thank you so much

Thank you so much for your lovely,encouraging words. Yes, i have been fortunate to be blessed with parents who never differentiated and gave us the opportunity to unlock our full potential. I am thankful to them. I received good education but i cannot say the same for other girls of my community. I know some of my friends got married mid way during their studies and could not continue their education. It saddened me and made me feel little helpless as i could do nothing to help them.

But now at least i can write about them and the situation that many girls face in my country. I am blessed to have found a platform where i can take action and no longer feel helpless.

Thank you again for writing in. Your words encourage me to do more for others.

Love,

Mukut Ray

j3ssm3ss's picture

No problem at all - Thank you

No problem at all - Thank you for giving me a different perspective! Good luck :)

surfgirl-CA's picture

nice article

Hi, Mukut! I like the name of your journal: "Mantra of the Soul!" I will check out the video ASAP. Nice article.

surfgirl-CA --
When we come from the willingness to love, not fear, we will see the best and highest materialize in our world.
Quand nous venons à partir de la volonté à l'amour, pas la peur, nous allons voir le meilleur et le plus élevé se matérialise

Mukut's picture

Thank you

Surfgirl,

I love to hear from you. Hope you are doing great !! You have always been very generous, kind and encouraging. Thank you so much for writing in.

Love and hugs

Mukut Ray

surfgirl-CA's picture

wow! That was fast!

it's 10:45 PM Sunday night here! take care, plz stay in touch.

surfgirl-CA --
When we come from the willingness to love, not fear, we will see the best and highest materialize in our world.
Quand nous venons à partir de la volonté à l'amour, pas la peur, nous allons voir le meilleur et le plus élevé se matérialise

Mukut's picture

hugs!!!

Lots of hugs to you. Take care.

Love :)

Mukut Ray

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