Women Education in India

Women Education in India and in Tribal Communities

With a view to equalize the status of a woman with man and removing disparities and prejudice our Constitution provides equal rights and privilege for men and women and also special provision for the development and upliftment of their social, economic and political status. In pursuance of the constitutional directive various attempts have been made by the government at the national and state level, necessary provision has been made in Five Year Plans to improve infrastructure and quality of women education at its different stage and aspects. Women education has been given an important place in the developmental system, for eradicating existing disparity and difference, for increasing the empowerment of women and equality between both the sexes.

In the Vedic period, girls were free to go through the Upanayana ceremony. They were free to study the Vedas, Vedanyas and other subjects along with their brother pupils. Learned women were generally known as Brahmavadinis (women who had attained the knowledge of Brahman). Unfortunately, this high level of culture, as well as the status which women enjoyed, was brought low by the social, economic and political change of the later years. Women gradually lost their right to education, while the age of marriage was lowered. Women education received a great set back. Percentage of literacy among Indian women went down very rapidly.

The East India Company was first, to accept the responsibility for the education of the Indian people under the Act of 1813 and spread western knowledge to Indians. Missionaries were also allowed to preach religion and spread education. Several great Indians like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Pandit Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar were touched by the pioneer work done in this field by missionaries and philanthropic Englishmen, began to lead their support to the organization and to break down the traditional popular resistance against the women education. By 1850, therefore, the stage had been set for a change in the state policy towards the women education. The initiative given by the great reformer in the 19th century towards women education has made it possible that the literacy has reached around one per cent by the end of the 19th century.

Table 1: Enrolment Growth Rates of Girls at Different Stages of Women Education (1965-66 to 1980-81)

Year Primary Middle Secondary Graduate Postgraduate
1965-66 160 175 217 268 206
1970-71 187 236 316 549 427
1975-76 219 309 385 713 542
1980-81 247 403 541 898 912

It can be seen from the Table 1 that the growth in the enrolment of girls and women is quite satisfactory throughout the period 1965-66 to 1980-81 at all stages of women education. However, the growth rate is not the same between primary, middle, secondary, graduate and postgraduate course. Several education commission and committees were appointed by the government post-independence to upgrade women education. The National Policy of Education recommended that more colleges and universities should be opened for higher women education. Girls should be encouraged to enter professional courses and 30 per cent seats should be reserved for rural girls. With the recommendation of National Policy on Education and implementation of special programmes for women education in various Five Year Plans, the women education in India has expanded very rapidly.

Among women, a disparity of literacy rate is seen between urban and rural areas. Besides, the urban-rural disparity, the state also exhibits a wide variation with respect to literacy. The female literacy rate as per census 2011 is highest for Kerala (92 per cent), followed by Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Tripura and Goa showing the rate higher than 80 per cent. The lowest female literate state is Rajasthan with only 52.7 per cent literate female.

The objectives of boys and women education differs in society. Though education of male is looked upon as an investment for the future source of income for the family, the women education is more an obligation. Social beliefs like early marriage, seclusion of girls etc. also have a negative impact on women education. Marriage is considered as the main career for girls. Sometimes higher education, especially in science and engineering of women, makes it difficult for finding a suitable match. Many rural areas, social constraints like the distance of schools, absence of female teachers, lack of transportation facility etc. hampers women education. Besides this, there is a built in system of gender discrimination within the schools which is reflected in content matter of textbook and also access of girls in certain kinds of courses.

Women Education of the Tribal Communities

Women Education in India

The curriculum in the school has seldom taken into consideration the tribal life context. It has been emphasized time and again that curriculum has to be greatly flexible to take into account the local environment and local needs of the community, but it has hardly considered in any of the curriculum.

For any development process in any society, education is considered an important indicator. According to 1991 census, literacy rate of schedule tribe was 29.6 per cent, of which 40.65  per cent male and 18.19 per cent for female, which is too unsatisfactory. Recognizing the importance of education, Indian Constitution has made specific provisions in Article 15(4) and 46 for promoting education among Scheduled tribes.

Even after launching and implementation of many programmes, not much seems to have happened in this direction, except an increase in literacy rate. Non-suitability of the school programme has been identified as another major cause of rejection of schools by parents. There is hardly any progress in the direction of teaching children through their mother tongue (tribal dialect), the teacher themselves are from outside, not knowing the tribal dialect.

Need of the Study

In Arunachal Pradesh girls’ are deprived of women education because of patriarchal society, which directly restricts their access to education. Besides this, women education has suffered because of many reasons like parent’s apathy, lack of accessible to educational institutions, poverty, social barriers and engagement in household work. Women education has been neglected even after the establishment of schools in the villages. Parents see the less functional utility of women education. They think that all the girls, whether literate or illiterate have to do household works. Hence, whenever a helping hand is needed girls are withdrawn from school to help their mother in the field at an early stage. Because of this reason, the dropout rate is also quite high among tribal girl students. Despite of all this obstacles, a good number of females have enrolled at all levels of women education and interestingly, most of them are first generation students.

A number of research reports were referred regarding women education. Mohanty, P. (2009) conducted a study on potential correlates of academic achievement of rural SC girls from class IV and V of four blocks of Haryana. His result reveals (i) significant difference and positive relationship between academic achievement and socio-economic status of high-achieving girls (ii) no significant relationship was found between high-achieving rural SC girls and home environment (iii) no significant relationship was found between high-achieving rural SC girls and school environment. Gosh, S and Sushmita, (2012) studied on domestic violence against women in Hugli district, West Bengal and suggested that women need to be educated to change their attitude and self-confidence.

Patil, A.K., and Chandhar, Samita, V (2009) studied on improving women’s status through lifelong learning, a case study in Raigad District of Maharashtra, the study found that women educational status is directly reflecting on the profession, employment and income of the family, it also revealed that dropout from the formal women education system and further education classes they have obtained do not fulfil the requirements of their life, providing lifelong learning programmes can provide the opportunities to enhance their status in several aspects.

Nayar, Usha (1992) conducted study to analyze the causes for non-enrolment and dropout of girls in rural areas and to suggest local-specific intervention strategies and found that the— (i) drop-out and never enrolled girls belonged to below subsistence level households. Pointed out that women education was not cost-free and they found it difficult to meet non-tuition cost like uniforms, books and money, (ii) Domestic work and sibling care were the chief reasons for girls not attending school, (iii) The demand for women teachers was strong in Mewat as also the need for an Urdu teacher, (iv) The drop-out girls, however, expressed their willingness to return to school. Parents were apathetic and had lower women educational and occupational aspirations for daughters compared to sons, (v) Drop-out was negligible in the age-groups 6-8 years and was maximum after class V, (vi) The study recommended rationalization of teachers between rural and urban areas to ensure at least one women teacher in every primary school. Opening of junior primary school, incentives like free books, uniforms and stationary to all girls in poverty groups should be provided regardless of caste, creating a positive climate for girls and educational development, breaking the cure of low valuation and poor status of women in a materially prosperous state.

Nayar, Usha (1992) conducted study to analyze the causes for non-enrolment and dropout of girls in rural areas and to suggest local-specific intervention strategies and found that the— (i) drop-out and never enrolled girls belonged to below subsistence level households. Pointed out that women education was not cost-free and they found it difficult to meet non-tuition cost like uniforms, books and money, (ii) Domestic work and sibling care were the chief reasons for girls not attending school, (iii) The demand for women teachers was strong in Mewat as also the need for an Urdu teacher, (iv) The drop-out girls, however, expressed their willingness to return to school. Parents were apathetic and had lower women educational and occupational aspirations for daughters compared to sons, (v) Drop-out was negligible in the age-groups 6-8 years and was maximum after class V, (vi) The study recommended rationalization of teachers between rural and urban areas to ensure at least one women teacher in every primary school. Opening of junior primary school, incentives like free books, uniforms and stationary to all girls in poverty groups should be provided regardless of caste, creating a positive climate for girls and educational development, breaking the cure of low valuation and poor status of women in a materially prosperous state.

The above-mentioned reports reveal that no study on women education in Arunachal Pradesh has been conducted. Hence, this investigation has carried out.

Women Education in India and in Tribal Communities
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