In India, nearly 40% girls remain out of school in the age-group of 15-18 years. The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the existing patterns of gender discrimination; disproportionately impacting girls more than boys. According to estimates, nearly 10 million secondary school girls in India could drop out of school due to the pandemic, putting them at risk of early marriage, early pregnancy, poverty, trafficking and violence. Schools remained closed for more than a year as a result remote learning through a wide range of approaches including online learning was promoted however online learning was accessible to limited number of children, excluding the marginalized children. The Right to Education Forum was a part of a study to understand the gendered impact of COVID-19 across 5 states in India-Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Delhi. The study found out that 56% of boys as against 46% of girls reported spending any time on their studies. This number segregated by gender showed further disparities in access to technological devices by girls, as only 26% of the girls said that they could access the phone present in the household whenever they wanted. Home proved to be a non-conducive learning environment with an alarming majority of girls (71%) being employed in care work while a higher proportion of boys (79%) reported spending time on leisure activities as against girls (60%).

RTE Forum’s Policy Brief on Girls’ Education

To address the barriers to girls’ education and policy gaps of girls’ education, the Right to Education Forum has come up with a Policy Brief on Girls’ Education. The Policy brief recommends the following measures to ensure girls’ complete their school education:-

  1. Right to Education; the need for continuum
  2. Save and Secure Environment
  3. Ensure Quality and Equity
  4. Empowerment and Life Skills
  5. Governance and Financing in for equitable and inclusive girls’ education

The policy brief was released nationally on the occasion of International Day of Literacy and National Girl Child Day through a webinar on zoom platform on 22nd of January 2021 in the presence of 200 online participants. The policy brief has also been translated in 6 languages- Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Marathi to serve as an advocacy tool at the state level by civil society organizations, and it is hoped that policymakers, researchers and training institutions will find these critical statistics and policy recommendations useful in their work of girls’ education.

Girls’ education is one of the primary concerns raised by the RTE Forum across the country for achieving better gender parity in education, the Forum has been engaging at the policy level to make policies gender-responsive and inclusive.

Right to Education Forum (a network of 10,000 civil society organizations across 19 states), educationist and Teachers Associations working for universalization of school education through the implementation of the Right to Education Act 2009, since its inception.

Rishita Barman was a participant in CFA’s Communication and Media workshop.

Picture courtesy: Eugene Ward/Flickr

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