Educating The Girl Child in Bihar, India
In this blog, we would like to talk about the status of education among girls in Bihar, India, the state where our program is currently in implementation. We hope this blog gives you a quick insight into the development context and inspires you to engage with us and our program.
The status of education among women in rural Bihar
According to the 2011 census, the rate of female literacy in Bihar is 53%, which shows an even lower rate in rural Bihar, which is 45%. There are many factors that have resulted in these levels of literacy among women in rural Bihar, but more importantly, there are many adverse consequences of low levels of literacy and education- poverty, lack of ‘power’ in households, gender based violence, less access to opportunities overall, to name only a few. Some of the multiple factors that have contributed to lower levels of literacy among women in Bihar are the poverty trap, systemic social barriers that keep the girl child home, improper school infrastructure which increases vulnerability to harassment of the girl child in many circumstances, early marriages and so on.
Solutions combatting the above factors- educational schemes by the state
Even though there are many leaps of improvement to be made, we must recognise that overall, literacy levels among the girl child and subsequently, women in Bihar are still positively on the rise. Below are some of the educational programs implemented by the state of Bihar, that deserve mention and appreciation.
Balika Poshak Yojana- The first mention is a scheme that aims to provide school uniforms to girls in middle school, so that not being able to afford it, does not keep female students from school. Under this program, girl students from Class VI to VIII in Bihar are given Rs 700 every year for purchasing two pairs of uniforms for their schooling.
Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojana- Bihar is one of many states in India, where there exist many remote villages that do not have their own schools, and thus students need to travel far by foot. The dangers in travelling is also a gender- specific issue and keeps many vulnerable female students away from school. To combat this problem, under the state ‘Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojana’ program, all girls are to be given bicycles free of cost by the State Government after getting admission to Class IX.
Mukhya Mantri Akshar Anchal Yojana- This scheme is targeted to ‘adults’ (15- 35 year old women)- but we still count it among our students, as we do consider below 18 year olds as children! The program was launched in 2009 and then, aimed to make 40 lakh illiterate women in the age group of 15–35 years’ literate within a period of 6 months. In this program, drop outs, as well as adult women who wholly missed being educated were targeted and their classes ran in the after school hours. This program is known to be a success, as out of 40 lakh women targeted, around 35 lakh women did gain useful levels of literacy!
Do you think other programs warrant special mention? Feel free to drop a comment on our blog post!