Viewing education as the basic agent of change in the status of women, the National Policy on Education calls for the national education system to play a positive interventionist role in the empowerment of women . In its effort to create a closer link between education and the life of people, the NPE had envisaged a two-pronged strategy: First, the removal of disparities in access and the second the equalisation of opportunities through affirmative action programmes. These programmes would be specifically tailored to address the specific needs of those denied equality to date.
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India is already home to the largest number of illiterates in the world. Of the 263 million illiterate Indians, 197 million are women. The literacy rate differential is also reflected in all other human development indicators. Women’s access to health care, adequate nutrition, sanitation facilities, clean drinking water is significantly less than men’s access. Reflective of the low status of women is the most sensitive indicator of human development, the infant mortality rate. India has a skewed sex ratio, with 829 women to 1000 men in some parts of the country.
During the field surveys for the gender studies, researchers found in some blocks of Haryana, sex ratios of 500 girls to 1000 boys in the age group 0-6 years. Development thinkers across the ideological spectrum agree that education is one of the most significant factors in changing the status of women. The skewed sex ratio and the high infant mortality rate are as much a cause as an effect of the disparity in educational opportunities between boys and girls. According to the 1991 census, the female literacy rate at 39. 42 per cent is bout two-thirds the literacy rate of men at 63. 86 per cent.
It is recognised that in rural India, of every 100 girls who enrolled in Class I only 1 entered Class XII. In urban areas, the situation is slightly better with 14 girls of every 100 making it to Class XII. A Empowering the Girl Child through Education Empowering the girl child through education Digumarty Bhaskara Rao DISTRICT PRIMARY EDUCATION PROGRAMME 01AUGUST 1995 N21 CED documentation is for educative purposes-for your reference and study only majority of the girls in rural areas drop out in primary school. Of the 100 who enroll in Class I, only 40 join Class V, an attrition rate of 60 per cent.
Among disadvantaged groups, the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, linguistic and religious minorities and families living in difficultto- reach areas, the drop-out rate is much higher. The District Primary education Programme (DPEP) which aims to restructure primary education, so as to enhance enrollment, retention, achievement and school effectiveness, was created to reach out to the goals set out in the NPE and implement the strategy of decentralised planning, disaggregated target-setting of the Programme of Action 1992.
Now operational in 42 districts spread over seven states, the programme is being implemented in districts where the female literacy rate is below the national average or where the total literacy campaign has successfully generated a demand for elementary education. The initiative is aimed at achieving the goal of UEE in a replicable, cost-effective and sustainable manner. Building on the experience of similar initiatives launched earlier, the programme emphasises an areaspecific approach, which is contextual and sensitive to local conditions.
Integrating a gender perspective in all aspects of planning and implementation, the decentralised approach within DPEP actively encourages the involvement of local communities, particularly women, in all decision-making processes. The DPEP is committed to reducing gender disparities in enrolment, retention and levels of student achievement. It has marked gender focus with all planning and implementation processes sensitised to meet the special needs of girls’ education and women’s empowerment. Providing Educational Opportunities to all Girls
One of the objectives of DPEP is the reduction of gender disparities in enrolment, retention and learner achievements. Providing all girls with access to educational opportunities is the primary goal of the programme. To achieve this, efforts are on to: • Make the educational system more supportive to the needs of girls and women. • Create an environment which enables women to demand education for themselves and their daughters. In the seven states where DPEP is now operational, strategies to improve girls access to educational opportunities and women’s empowerment are significant highlight of the overall planning and implementation process.