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New data reveal Gujarat has worst enrolment rate of girls in secondary and higher secondary schools

By Rajiv Shah
There is fresh evidence of neglect of the girl child in Gujarat. Latest data released by the Government of India have suggested that Gujarat has one of the worst sex ratios in secondary and higher secondary schools as compared almost all states. Just about 70 girls study in Gujarat’s secondary schools for every 100 boys, while at the higher secondary level, there are 76 girls as against 100 boys. This is worst than nearly all 20 major states of India. The data were released by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), which operates under the Ministry of Human Resources Development, and have been published in “Secondary Education in India, Thematic Maps: 2012-13” (February 2014).
Claiming authenticity, NUEPA has said, “The Secondary Education in India, Thematic Maps: 2012-13 is based on the data received from as many as 228,000 schools spread over 662 districts across 35 states and union territories.” It adds, “In no way, NUEPA is involved in data collection. Accuracy and truthfulness of the data rest with the states and union territories. The State Project Directors have certified that data are free from errors and inconsistencies and hence may be merged into the national database maintained at NUEPA, New Delhi.”
Interestingly, the data have come at a time when the Gujarat government and its votaries have declared huge successes in girl child enrolment drive through Kanya Kelavni campaign, running for more than a decade now. Attached with the campaign is Beti Bachao or Save the Girl Child campaign, launched by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Despite these campaigns, the Gujarat government, after Modi came to power, dropped a scheme which encouraged girls belonging to any income group to study free at secondary and higher secondary level.
The data show that the best performer in girl child education in India is West Bengal (111 girls against every 100 boys) at the secondary level, and Tamil Nadu at the higher secondary level (115 girls against every 100 boys). There is little doubt that Gujarat has a skewed sex ratio – it is 919 females against every 1000 male, which is below national average of 940 as per census 2011. In 2001, the sex ratio of female was 921 per 1000 males in Gujarat. Child sex ratio in Gujarat improved by just three points, from 883 to 886, in 2000s.
While this would obviously impact the sex ratio in schools, the gap between girls and boys at the secondary and higher secondary level is extremely wide – much wider than the overall sex ratio, even of the age group 0-6 age. From available data, it would seem, large number of girls are just not just enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level. Thus, the gross enrolment rate (GER) at the secondary level in Gujarat, if the report is any guide, is 63 per cent (worst then 13 other states), it further drops to 38 per cent at the higher secondary level. Apparently, mainly girls decide to drop out of schools at the higher level.

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