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India”s Inability To Meet The Education Demand With Supply [Part 2]

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By Diksha Langthasa:

Part 2 of a 2 part series.

People who run a country are always expected to be educated. This article is a continuation of the last piece I wrote. Education is the key to tapping human capital formation. And with the vast population of India, it is of utmost importance to not render the potential unrealized. With the literacy rate of India reaching 78.04% as of 2011 and its education system being the third largest in the world after China and USA, there is still a long way to go for us. The education system consists of elementary education, secondary education and higher studies, which includes graduation, post graduation, doctorate, etc. Every level faces multitudes of problems.

Wide Gap in Schooling:

Whenever a national magazine comes out with a cover story on the best schools of India, there is no doubt that private schooling institutions like Doon School and DPS will appear in the list. The quality of teaching, the exposure children in these schools receive is far more superior to that of other schools; some of these also being those where many of our prominent countrymen have been schooled. Toppers also often emerge from these schools. However, one cannot even ignore the sky high fees that these schools charge. Clearly, they cater to a limited number of children. Where do the remaining children go? They are given the privilege to join the schools run by the central and state government, where fees are nominal, infrastructure is crumbling and where there is a blatant absence of quality education which comes out in the absence of high achievers from such schools. If children in such schools are given the opportunity to join private institutions, they would go grab a seat for themselves there. However, where do they get the fees from, they cannot even imagine. This startling gap highlights the failure of the government despite launching schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan and spending 520.5 billion rupees on it. The government can justify their expenses on education only when a Kendriya Vidyalay produces students the same as those in DPS.

Inadequate institutions for higher studies:

It is also known through surveys that only 15% of students in India pursue studies after class 12th. However, there are also other surveys that say that only 7% of the students can join institutions for higher studies. While lakhs of students apply for admission into IITs, only 10000 actually get in; similarly, lakhs of students appear for the class 12 board exams in Delhi alone and thousands migrate to the capital for better opportunities as Delhi University offers just around 50000 seats for under graduate courses. The affluent may choose to go abroad or even join private institutes, which like private schools, charge exorbitant fees. But what option does the average scoring lower middle-class student have? Our country has a wide range of Open colleges and Distance learning schemes; however, people are wary of the value or the lack of it that is attributed to degrees awarded by them. This automatically puts them at a disadvantage in job-seeking unless one is makes exceptional effort to keep him at par with other students.

Other filial responsibilities of migrant children:

I recently spoke to a rickshaw-puller about his experiences in schooling. He had none. He was 16 years old, had 5 younger siblings and parents who hardly get any work in their village in UP. The only way to keep the family alive was for his parents and him to work, given the number of mouths to feed. He said he wouldn’t study now because he has to work and fulfill his responsibilities as the eldest child of the family. In such situations it is not feasible to drag him out of labour and put him in a school. Many boys like him exist today who will trade education for income.

It is in these situations that we see the need for wider change in society; that we realize that just passing the Right to Education law is not enough to educate people.

You must be to comment.
  1. Meghavarshini

    I have been a part of an RTE campaign in Delhi and the lack of awareness is only one of the many issues. Eve if one manages to sprea the word, how do you fit all these children into classrooms? Where do you find teachers to teach them?

    The process of ensuring that every child gets free and compulsry education is going to take a lot of time and patience.
    Children get free meals and there are government appointed workers like the ‘angan wali behenjis’ who are appointed to look after children while their parents are at work. The government cannot do it alone, every citizen has to do his/her bit to ensure that all these people work efficiently, so that lack of money and responsibilities don’t come in the way of education.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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