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Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available. 
The report, “Household Social Consumption: Education”, published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, finds that while at the lower primary level (age group 6-10), girls’ attendance ratio – which is a combination of never enrolled and school dropouts – is 95.9%, which is above the national average, 94.1%, it slightly slides to 93.8% at the higher primary level (age group 11-13), which is equal to the national average (93.6%).
However, the report, which is based on the 75th round of National Sample Survey carried out by the National Statistical Office (NSO) between July 2017 and June 2018, shows that there is huge slide thereafter, reaching 71% in the age group 14-17 (national average 77.5%), and further to a mere 16.1%, worst compared to all the 22 states, in the age group 18-23 (post-higher secondary), as against the national average of 24.6%.
While the report contradicts the official claim that there has been a 99% enrollment in Gujarat schools, which allegedly took place as a result of the annual Kanya Kelavani festival, a drive initiated by Narendra Modi as chief minister in mid-2000, it also suggests failure of Gujarat’s policy makers to address girl child education at the post-primary level. Official data claim, enrollment of girls in 2015-16 at the lower primary level was 98.22%, rising to to 98.92% in 2017-18 and further to 98.99 in 2017-18. 
Significantly, the NSS date suggest, situation with regard to girl child education post-primary level is found to be poor both for rural and urban areas. In Gujarat rural areas, the attendance ratio of girls in the age group 14-17 is just 64.1%, which is higher than only one state – Uttar Pradesh (62.4%). 
The best performing state is Kerala with attendance ratio of 99.3%, followed by Himachal Pradesh 93.5%, Uttarakhand (92%) and Tamil Nadu (91.7%). Even Bihar performs far better than Gujarat with an attendance ratio of 78.2%. 
Despite being a highly urbanised state, in urban Gujarat, 86.9% girls attend secondary and higher secondary-level schools, which is worse than all states except for six out of 22 analysed by the report – Uttar Pradesh 73.4%, Odisha 80.3, Madhya Pradesh 79.1%, Rajasthan 80.3%, Jammu and Kashmir 86.7%, Punjab 84%.
What is even more worrisome is, at the post-higher secondary level, in the age-group 18-23, Gujarat’s situation worsens: Only 28% girls go in higher, college level education, which is better than only two states, Odisha (27.5%) and Chhattisgarh (27.3%).
While no explanation, expert or otherwise, is available as to why, despite the Kanya Kelavani drive, female education suffers in Gujarat, the report identifies several possible reasons which could be applicable to the country as a whole. However, it does not provide any state-wise data on these.
The reasons include: Not interested in education, financial constraints, engaged in domestic activities and/or economic activities, school is far off, inadequate number of teachers, quality of teachers not satisfactory, route to educational institution not safe, unfriendly atmosphere at school, non-availability of female teacher, non-availability of girls’ toilet, and marriage.

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