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Gujarat on backfoot in sending ST, SC, OBC females to educational institutions, suggests top NSS report

In the Rann of Kutch: Photograph by Pankti Jog
By Rajiv Shah
In an alarming revelation, a September 2012 report, prepared by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), has suggested huge gaps in the female education levels of Gujarat, especially among those belonging to the three socially-deprived groups, scheduled tribes (STs), schedules castes (SCs) and other backward classes (OBCs). Findings have been reported the NSS report, “Employment and unemployment situation among social groups in India”. The survey (rural plus urban) results show that in the age-group 5-14, 75.1 per cent ST females attended any educational institution; this dropped to 22.4 per cent in the age-group 15-19, and further to 1.8 per cent in the age-group 20-24. If the survey results are to be believed, there isn’t much of a difference for SCs and OBCs, either. Worse, in each of these social groups, Gujarat ranks among rock-bottom Indian states as far as females attending educational institutions are concerned.
Among SCs, 71.2 per cent females in the age-group 5-14 were found to be attending an educational institution, which is down to 18 per cent in the age-group 15-19, and further to 7.2 per cent in the age-group 20-24. As for OBCs, 78 per cent females attended an educational institution in the age-group 5-14; this went down to 23.8 per cent in the age-group 15-19, and further to 2.5 per cent in the age-group 20-24. While in every state the percentage females, attending an educational institution, goes down with a higher age-group, things are not as bad as with Gujarat. One can safely conclude that the Narendra Modi government’s drive to create an awareness to educate young females through the Kanya Kelavni drive, begun in 2004, has miserably failure. The state policy makers would do well to do some re-thinking about their strategy to send babus for just three days every year for the drive. No followup action is ever contemplated. Help from voluntary agencies is never sought.
One can see inter-state comparisons to show where Gujarat stands. First about STs; as against 75.1 per cent female STs attend an educational institution in Gujarat in the age-group 5-14, all states fared better than Gujarat with the exception of Andhra Pradesh with 69 per cent and Rajasthan with 70.2 per cent. Even Bihar was found to be sending 76.9 per cent ST females in this age group to an educational institution. Other states’ percentage is also worth noting – Odisha 86.6 per cent, Assam 86.9 per cent, Chhattisgarh 84.7 per cent, Jharkhand 81.9 per cent, Madhya Pradesh 83 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 87.4 per cent, and so on. In the age-group 15-19, Gujarat is, again, found to be ranking fourth from the bottom, with only Odisha (11.4 per cent), West Bengal (21.1 per cent) and Uttarakhand (12.8 per cent) performing worse than Gujarat. As for the age-group 20-24, Gujarat’s 1.8 per cent is the worst.
A scrutiny of the percentage of SC females attending an educational institution would tell almost the same story. Gujarat was found to be sending 71.2 per cent of female SCs in the age-group 5-14 to an educational instition, which is lower than most states except Jharkhand (59.8 per cent). In the age-group 15-19, 18 per cent SC females go to an educational institution, which is lower than all other Indian states. And in the age-group 20-24, the corresponding figure for Gujarat is 7.2 per cent, which is worse than all states except Haryana (4.1 per cent), Jharkhand (2 per cent), Karnataka (5.3 per cent), Rajasthan 3.4 per cent) and West Bengal (4.4 per cent).
As for OBC females, Gujarat’s 78 per cent in the age-group 5-14 is worse than all states except Bihar (72.6 per cent); in the age-group 15-19, Gujarat’s 23.8 per cent is worse than all states, including Bihar (42.1 per cent). Again, in the age-group 20-24, Gujarat’s 2.5 per cent is worse than all the Indian states. Even for higher castes, categorized as “others”, Gujarat’s young females do not show a better performance most of the Indian states, though here the situation is slightly better.
Glancing through overall literacy figures (of the 5 plus age group), there is reason to believe that other states, including the states so far identified as Bimaru, are all set to overtake Gujarat in future. This can be concluded from the fact that Gujarat’s overall literacy figures for the three social groups is not as bad as many states, and is almost equal to the national average. However it is the younger group of 5-24 that Gujarat fares badly. Overall literacy figures how, Gujarat’s 54 per cent ST females are literate, while the all-India average is 54.4 per cent. Gujarat’s literacy among SC females is 56.7 per cent as against the all-India figure of 55.5 per cent. And as for OBC females, Gujarat’s literacy levels are 61.6 per cent, as against the all-India figure of 62.1 per cent. The table below shows how things deteriorate if one examines the younger age groups going to educational institutions.

Table: Percentage of females attending educational institutions
                                                       Social Groups 
                       Age-group         ST            SC           OBC 
Gujarat                  5-14            75.1         71.2         78.0
                            15-19           22.4         18.0         23.8
                            20-24             1.8           7.2           2.5

All-India                 5-14           81.7         83.6         85.8
                            15-19           40.9         46.8         51.8
                            20-24             7.2          7.9          10.8

(Source: Employment and unemployment situation among social groups in India, National Sample Survey, September 2012)

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