Early marriage chief factor impacting girls’ education: Study

(Representational Image : PTI)

On International Women’s Day, the Child Rights and You (CRY) released a study that focuses on the enablers and disablers that significantly impact access and continuation of girls’ education. It also explores the role of incentive schemes for boosting girl child education in India. The study was conducted with more than 3,000 interviewees from 1,604 households across the four states.

The study found that dependency on someone to go to school is the biggest disabler for girls in attending educational institutions and 90 per cent of girls are impacted by it. “Frequent absenteeism (29 per cent) and discomfort in absence of female teacher (18 per cent) were identified as some of the other disabling factors that are often interlinked with the drop out of girl children,” it stated.

Delving deep into the reasons behind frequent absenteeism from school, frequent illness (52 per cent) and being engaged in household chores (46 per cent) surfaced as the biggest deterrents across the four states, according to the study.

Also, infrastructural issues like poor roads and unavailability of transport to schools were highlighted as some of the top reasons for girls to miss education. Girls in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh mentioned about the distance and cost of transportation as some of the main reasons to miss school, the study stated. In Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, menstruation emerged as another important reason for missing school, which highlights the vital need for improved infrastructure and amenities in school. “Though 87 per cent of schools reported to have separate toilets for girls, not all of them were found to have running water and hand wash facilities,” the study stated.

Among the enablers, self-motivation to go to school (88 per cent) and inspiration from family (87 per cent) were the most sought after motivating factors for girls to go to school.

“No resistance from family (94 per cent) and community (95 per cent) were also reported as some of the prominent encouraging reasons by majority of school going girls, while 70 per cent of school going girls claimed to have received government incentives and/or benefits in the school,” the study stated.

However, while analysing the most prevalent factors likely to hinder girl child education, the most spontaneous responses from the parents highlighted requirement of female labour within the household, indicating discontinuation of studies for the girl child.

The interesting aspect is that when both the spontaneous and the aided responses are combined, marriage of girls (66 per cent) emerged as the chief factor that hinders girls’ education, followed by household chores (65 per cent) and cost of education (62 per cent), the study found. Amongst the underlying causes, elopement/love affairs followed by caring for siblings, predetermined gender roles and physical insecurity of girls were some of the top responses in this area, it said.

Besides assessing different factors impacting girl child education, the study also evaluates the effectiveness of 21 government education incentivisation schemes, of which 12 are monetary and the rest provide non-monetary incentives. Despite a large number of schemes being implemented, the analysis reveals that 40 per cent of parents across the four states were unaware of the schemes. “This indicates that though a number of government schemes are available for promoting girl child education, their benefits are yet to reach and touch the lives of girls due to lack of awareness and knowledge about the schemes,” said Puja Marwaha, the CEO of CRY.

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