With over 1 billion people living in India, providing education for everyone can be a challenge, especially for girls. One of the fundamental rights from the Indian constitution is the right to education. However, when there are glaring disparities on education standards for men and women, it is clear some rights are not being met. In 2009, India created the “Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act” which makes education a fundamental right for every child between the ages of 6 to 14 (Right to Education, n.d.). While urban children have benefited from this act, those in lower castes situated in rural areas of India do have not equal opportunities.
According the Article 26 and 10 from the UDHR and CEDAW, a girl’s right to an equal education is morally and socially right (UDHR, 2015). The source of inequality problems for educations stems largely from social and cultural norms but policy changes will help break these barriers. Providing equal opportunities for girls in the rural areas with education will strengthen the outlook for India and its people. As a policy analyst for the United Nations, I will focus on understanding the current strides made in education rights for girls primarily through an analysis of NGOs and governmental policies. I will look at points of improvements in current government funded programs and provide recommendations for new policies that focus on sanitation and education. It is incredibly important to protect the rights of these girls and hope that these policy recommendations will prevent further human rights violations.
2a. Legal Definitions
• Secondary Education: Secondary education comprises of two years of lower secondary and two years of higher secondary education. The lower secondary level is for students aged 14 to 16 years. Admission requirement is the completion of upper primary school education. Instruction is more organized along specific subjects (British Council, 2014).
• Literacy Rate: The total percentage of the population of an area at a particular time aged seven years of above who can read and write with understanding. (Ministry of Home Affairs, n.d.)
• Rural Areas: Rural area means any place that has a population of less than 5,000 and where more than 25% of the male working population is engaged in agricultural pursuits (Rural Indian, n.d.).
• Incentive Programs: These programs are a direct response to cost analyses that study the expense to a family of sending children, primarily girls, to school. They are implemented in cases where it is believed the cost of schools is a significant barrier to girls attending school (Impact of Incentives to Increase Girls’ Access to and Retention in Basic Education, 2004).
2b. Statistics on Girls’ Education
The statistics are there: education for girls around the world is not as much as of a priority as it is for their male peers. There are 34 million female adolescents out of school, missing out on the chance to learn vital skills for work. Slow education progress for children today will have lifelong effects: almost a quarter of young women aged 15-24 today (116 million) in developing countries have never completed primary school and so lack skills for work (Girls’ Education, 2013). Finally, two-thirds of the 774 million illiterate people in the world are female (Girls’ Education, 2013). The need for improvements on policies and changes to current systems is apparent. In India, the statistics around girls’ education are staggering. The overall literacy rate is 74.04% for the country, with the male literacy rate being 82.14% and the females 65.46%, showing a gap of 16.6 percentage points at the national level (State of Literacy, 2011). Rural areas are even worse: with a female literacy rate being 58.7% (State of Literacy, 2011). Literacy level and educational achievements are important developmental indicators in a developing nation such as India (Ministry of Home Affairs, n.d.). They are a key variable of measure that indicates quality of life, awareness level and also the level of skill of people in the society.
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