Maski taluk of the Raichur district has an increasing number of girls’ dropout rates from schools and colleges. Lack of awareness about education is the prime reason behind it.
Alfiya is a 4th standard student from an Urdu Primary School of the Digganayakanabhavi village of the Maski taluk in the Raichur district of north Karnataka. She wants to become a teacher in the future. She loves coming to school, learning something new every day and meeting her friends who are also just like her. They want to study and become successful.
Even though Alfiya is trying to pay full attention in the class, she cannot. Her little 3-year-old sister is playing outside, alone in the sun and Alfiya is scared that she might fall and hurt herself. Her parents will be furious if something like this happens because they gave Alfiya the responsibility of her sister before they went out to the fields for work.
Wondering why she bought her three-year-old sister to the school along with her? Well, if she didn’t then she too had to stay back and skip school. It is more important to take care of your sister and do small household jobs than to go out and secure education. That is what Alfiya said when asked how do her parents support her education. “They say education is not that important now. You have a small sister. It is more important to take care of her. They have to go out for work. Both of them are farmers. If they don’t work, we won’t get to eat. Therefore, I have to take care of her. I also want to study and when the school headmaster came to know about the problem, he called my father and asked to send my sister along with me to the school,” said Alfiya.
Unfortunately, this hardly solved the problem because even though she is present in the school now, she still has to take care of her sister and cannot concentrate on her class. Alfiya is not the only girl in Maski who wants to study and become independent in life. There are thousands of such girls whose parents still think that education is a secondary thing for girls. This is the reason why most of the girls are forced to drop out of schools and the ones who manage to continue can only do so up to class 10. After that, they either get married or migrate to cities like Bengaluru in search of small jobs.
Primary school headmaster Hussain Saab says he calls up the parents of the girls and ask them the reason why their children do not come to school. “They have worked at home and anyway it is more important for them to learn these jobs rather than going to school because ultimately they will get married,” is what Hussain Saab gets to hear from the parents.
The problem is not limited to one or two villages. It is spread to almost all the villages in the taluk. Villages like Digganayakanabhavi, Maldini, Banaklal, Antargange, and Muraladinnitande are few of the villages that face this issue. The problem is not limited to Maski but spread over entire Karnataka.
There have been studies and initiative to strengthen the condition of girls’ education. Monograph on Status of Women in Karnataka states, “…..on further probing the gender gap in literacy among urban and rural regions to understand the state of educational equality, it is seen that sadly, the reduction in the gap over the decades is insignificant among the rural population as compared to that of the urban. While in the urban region, the literacy gap has been reduced to an impressive level from 23.0 to 8.8 per cent points between 1951 and 2011, the same for the rural region is seen to have been reduced very negligibly from 19.0 to 18.3 per cent points during the same period.” The study also says, “the literacy gap among urban and rural has widened. The rural women lag behind their urban counterparts more than they lag behind the opposite sex in literacy attainments. This suggests that the state needs to have focused efforts and a sense of urgency to raise the literacy status of rural women.”
The reports of the Karnataka education department states that Raichur leads in the school dropouts’ rates. Against the population of children between the age 6-14 years, of 4.37 lakh, 1.16 lakh children are out of school. In Maski, the dropout problem is not just about school but about colleges as well. In Devanampriya Ashok Government First Grade College Maski, out of the total number of 346 female students studying there, hardly 130-150 girls turn up regularly for classes and finish the course. According to a source table of the District Information System for Information, from class 8-9 the dropout rate for girls is 95 percent.
College Principal Pampanagouda.G said, “The girls are absent most of the days due to various issues. If I ask them, they say they were not keeping well. They fall sick. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of proper nutrition. Moreover, most of their parents think that registering the name under some educational institution is enough. They don’t pay attention to getting the proper education. The girls, due to the pressure of their families, pay more attention in learning household jobs and helping their mother back home, as a result, they slowly get drifted from their studies and eventually drop out of college.”
Schoolteacher Parmanand said, “The villagers here are serious about studies only when it comes to the boys. They can’t even think of their girls getting a good education and going out and earnings for the family. It is the men who are supposed to do it. Therefore, it is not that they are not aware of the importance of education but the problem here is they don’t see the necessity of why the girls need education when all they have to do is eventually get married.” If one sees the attendance register of any of the schools at Maski, they would find a very good boys’ and girls’ ratio; but out of those girls not even 40 percent turn up to school regularly. Parents have registered their daughters’ name under some school just as a formality. They don’t think it is important to send them to that school for education and as a result, the dropout rates get increasing.
Only boys are sent for higher education. They are sent to the Maski town for good schools and colleges. One of the reasons for this because the parents say that financial issues restrain them from sending their daughters for higher education therefore, they wait a few more years and get them married. “I want to send my daughter for higher education, but given that the financial condition of the household is not very good, I can only send my son to college. He has to earn later. My daughter can get married to a well to do family and stay in good health,” said the father of one the girls from Katagam village. Even the women of the villages think that education is only important for boys as they have to earn for the family later in their life.
The state and the central government have several schemes and initiative to promote girl’s education. ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’(BBBP) scheme by the central government aims towards empowering the girl child. “It aims to create awareness and improve the status of a girl child in the society. It brings about awareness on girls’ education. This scheme was launched on 22nd January 2015 at Panipat, Haryana. The BBBP scheme gained a lot of applause. According to the Press Information Bureau Government of India Ministry of Women and Child Development, “In Phase-1 (2014-15 i.e. January 2015), the scheme was started with 100 districts and got expanded to 61 additional districts in Phase-II (2015-16, February 2016). The scheme has been received well and has been successful in establishing the improvement in Child Sex Ratio as a National Agenda. It has resulted in increased awareness, sensitization and conscious building around the issue of declining CSR in the public domain.”
However, the scheme lacked ground planning. According to an article of The Wire, “Overall, out of a total amount of Rs 43 crore that was set aside for BBBP in the fiscal year 2016-2017, only Rs 5 crore has been correctly utilised, according to the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development. The amount of money spent on this scheme in the current fiscal year is also less than one-tenth of the Rs 59.37 crore spent on BBBP in the previous fiscal year. On various districts of Haryana and Punjab, the sex ratio has worsened.”
Karnataka government’s ‘Bhagyalaxmi’ scheme provides educational scholarships to girls up to class 10. It mostly helped the families belonging to the BPL. Even though the scheme has been quite successful and has helped in the education of many girl children it still failed to reach many places in the rural Karnataka. Many villagers at Maski claimed that when they try to apply for the scheme, they are told to produce several documents that they are not aware of. They are also not clear about the eligibility criteria for the scheme. “We have heard about it but hardly any girls in the village are getting the benefits of the scheme. We don’t even know where to go and talk about it,” said Taiyab, a villager from Muraladinnitande.
Karnataka’s ‘Bhagyalaxmi’ scheme is also in trouble. Deccan Herald article states, “The LIC in a recent letter to the Department of Women and Child Welfare, has said that it cannot declare the maturity amount in the bond in future “in the present circumstances.” But the LIC has not elaborated the reason for its decision in the letter. It is clear from the letter that the LIC wants the Government to increase the premium amount and that it is incurring a loss.”
Zilla Panchayat member Ambrish said, “We know the condition for girl’s education is not very good in the Taluk or the district as a whole. The lack of awareness is one of the main reasons for this social issue. We have communicated the government about this and we plan to bring on better awareness programmes. I would say that the situation has still changed for the better than in the past because now, at least they are registering or feeling the need to registers their daughters under some school. Earlier they didn’t even bother to do that.”
Balaram Kattimani the Tehsildar officer of Maski said, “Maski is a newly formed taluk and there is a lot of administrative issues here. We are looking into each of them very seriously. The implementation of the ‘Bhagyalaxmi’ scheme is one of them. There is the need for awareness and people need to change their age-old mindset that it is only necessary for the boys to get educated and get a good job.”
Experts say that one of the main reasons why girls are still less in number in the education sector of the country is because of the safety and honour of the girl. Parents don’t want to keep their daughters away from home for a very long period of time. They fear that something bad might happen to happen. And the fear is also justified somewhere because of the present state of girls’ safety in the country. It is important to teach the girls to fight for themselves and stand against the wrong and that would only come if they have the proper education.
Girls’ education in India especially rural India is seen in terms of gains for societies and families. They apparently only have a role to play in being better mothers and therefore better future generations. The need for their own development and empowerment is not even regarded as an option here. An article by Urvashi Sahni, “Reframing girls’ education in India,” states, “It is often not apparent, that there is a concern for a girls’ right to her own life, to full human existence, her right to be able to become anything she wants. There is a lack of an urgency to view education as a pathway to this goal. Education, especially for girls living in poverty in countries like India, is an extremely complex undertaking: it requires a multi-perspective approach to be understood and addressed effectively.”
The increase rates in girls’ dropout also affect the economic growth of the country. International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management states, “Due to students’ dropouts, economy also have to pay the cost; class of students dropouts will cost the country over $200 billion during their existence in lost earnings and unrealized tax revenue every year. People without education unable to get jobs and more likely to spend their lives jobless or on government assistance.”
The dropout rates for the girls is increasing rapidly and so is the number of girls who want to study and become independent in life. Even though several schemes work for the well-being and proper education for the girls, there is a huge difference between the theory and the practicality. Sharanappa, a youth activist from Maski who works for various social and regional issues said, “Girls are not taken seriously when it comes to doing jobs and going to school. They are sent away after marriages and the parents don’t listen to them even if they say that they don’t want to get married or that they want to study. The situation is such that sometimes many girls themselves do not show interest in studies because there is no motivation from the family.”
Brinda Adige says, “It is important to make learning interesting. The syllabus has to connect to the everyday life of the student. This will show them and their parents why education is important and much more than just earning money. The government schemes also need some planning and the road to reach the ones in need.”
Zeena who is running an NGO for the upliftment of girls’ education says, “We are trying to do as many awareness programmes as possible. Private organization and influential people should also come out and do the same. So that people follow them and listen to them. It is more important to give proper counselling to girls about this. Especially about matters of their personal lives as well. In that way one can know a person better. In that way, it will be easy to bring about more awareness.”
The main reason why children are sent to school here is because of the mid-day meals. Covering one meal for the day of their children is a need that they understand. Even though the boys are pushed to go to school and gets scolded for bunking it the situation is not the same for the girls. Many have to argue with their parents for letting them go to school and many are like Alfiya who take the responsibility given to them to school so that they can at least learn something. The government bodies are working towards bringing awareness about there is a lot of groundwork that is to be done. The thought process of the villagers needs to be changed. When people will send their girls out for education and save money for their education instead of their marriage, only after that will girls would be able to focus fully on her studies and not look after household responsibilities. More education for girls means more job opportunities for them.