Flow against the current
Flow against the current
I recall the popular statement “If you educate a boy, you educate one person, but if you educate a girl, you educate the entire nation”. Education of a girl has a multiple spiral effect not only in the family, in the community, but also in the entire nation, even the extension is beyond that. In our society in typical rural context, the future of the girls depends mostly on their parents, especially father. What I am today is because of my lovely parents. I have made the efforts only, but my parents have taken the decisions on my education. My father used to say ‘at least you girls take the education as much as you wish’. My father took all his pain to make us study – we three sisters and four brothers (one sister and two brothers are my cousins –my uncle left behind them in heart attack in 1985) and my mother is a good listener and motivator. Interestingly, my Dad paid little heed to the suggestion of my grandfather and my community who were continuously demanding my marriage in the year 1987; I passed my matriculation at the age of 14 years old.
In a hard core patriarchal society, mothers generally wish, encourage, do cut –short of household expenditure, and keep the confidence on herself and her child. And Fathers influence, provide financial opportunity, take the risk of flowing against the current, take ultimate decisions, and become confident on his effort.
The community I am working with presently (In Jharkhand, India) is having low female literacy rate. In spite of Universal Primary Education Program run by Government, the school enrolment and retention of girl children in rural area is low. Gender discrimination is attached not only with the field of education, but also with child birth, food and nutrition, age of marriage, health, employment, wage etc. The mind set is that the daughter will go to her husband’s house. Investing on her education will be a wastage, the girl child are oriented to look after her younger siblings while parents go to work, child marriage is rampant, dowry is also very serious ill practice here in India , which burdens the parents and forces them to think twice before giving education to girl child. After primary education, Parents hesitate to send their girl child to middle and high school because of distant school, insecurity, puberty and pressure of society to let the child be in home to avoid harmful situations. Although the state government has provided bi-cycle, the enrolment in middle and high school is less compared to primary school.
These are all simple manifestation of our patriarchy system. Over and above, the barrier of girl’s education lies in the mind set of parents, teachers, policy makers, policy implementers, influenced and governed by the patriarchy. Once they crossed the challenge of convincing themselves on the importance of girl education, any barrier will hardly remain as a barrier. Parent plays an important role, when every parent traverses the challenge of their own mind-set, have strong will power and conviction to educate their girl –the angel, the future architect, all girls will be educated.
This is altogether a separate dimension but I wish to point out here. I remember 20 of my classmates completed the post graduation but are presently housewives. I am sure; they must not have desired this while studying. This is a raw data of one batch, of one theme, of one university only and imagine the rest of it. I am not negating the value of their education; rather I am concerned about their contribution, their ideas, and their intellects which have had a multiple effect but remain unutilized.
Education is everybody’s right and especially of girls; they are vulnerable around the world. They represent the half of the world. Once they get the education, they will differentiate right from wrong and informed choice from forced choice; contribute 50% to the world. The other half (men) from different role starting from father, brother,husband, teacher, employer, policy maker need to be sensitized on its importance. Government should take necessary step to propagate the importance of girl education to reach to the last person of the world, and make necessary arrangement to ensure that the last girl of the last country get proper education. Let’s be careful, make a campaign,a movement not to deprive a single girl in the world from her right to education. It’s an important and powerful tool to change the world picture.