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Why Political Manifestos Need To Promise 8% GDP To Education #unManifesto

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By Rachna Baruah:

Incredible is the country we live in and so are we. But what happens to be the consequences of the nation which suffers from illiteracy among the other crippling problems? India is in its relentless struggle to become the next major superpower by 2025 but yet we all ignore the most basic element to build the foundation of a superpower- Education. Education is that basic parameter used by most societies to calculate their and others’ level of growth and development in terms of modernization, urbanization, etc. Literacy gives an idea of the amount of development that has percolated in a society in terms of its citizens. It enables and enlightens individuals of their rights. It allows everybody to process and judge information around them and elevates their societies into a better one.

education sector

According to the Census 2001, as many as 560,687,797 people in the country are literate. Of these 336,533,716 are males and 224, 154,081 are females. While the overall literacy rate works out to be 64.8 %, the male literacy rate is 75.3% and that for females is 53.7%, showing a gap of 21.6 percentage points between the sexes at the national level. The gap is more in the rural areas. In the urban areas, higher literacy rate has been recorded both for males and females and the difference among the sexes is lower (13 percentage points). (Census 2001)

Literacy is a complex concept and its understanding is not as easy as it seems. There are various levels to understand the education which percolates to each segment and each age cluster of the society. And while we hold great intellectual debates and discussions pertaining to the educational sector and it’s lagging on a daily basis, we forget that ours is a democracy. Our democracy is supposed to be “of the people, by the people, for the people”. So following that, idealistically our beloved politicians should be the representatives of the common people. But in true sense, that is just a joke in today’s world. The people who rule this country seldom have common welfare and interests in their minds. They come, gather (gather-you-know-what) and leave. Where do our interests go then? I assume, down the drain. Every political party has a basic manifesto of their idea, visions and mission. A manifesto is a document which holds a party’s motives, goals and ideals and often they promise a bright future laden with a developed, enlightened society. But as each tenure ends, this manifesto is a mockery on the common man. Seldom are the promises fulfilled and even rarer it is to find the responsible ones to find and question them.

As every political manifesto bears different visions and promises, as a part of the unManifesto campaign we ask for a humble place for the most important foundational element in their manifestos. We ask for a well-structured 8% GDP in Education. According to the World Bank, India in 2009 sanctioned only a scarce 3.2% expenditure from its GDP into the education sector. And over a year it increased only by a 0.1%. India’s major problems are poverty, unemployment, overpopulation among the others and one of the culprits of these humongous parasitic problems is illiteracy in our nation. Illiteracy is slowing and steadily devouring the nation as it acts as a catalyst for the aforementioned problems. Though India has developed and grown in terms of its literacy rate, we still stand very backward in comparison to the world average of 84% and of all nations, Indian population stands out to be one of the largest as illiterates.

Ensuring at least 8% GDP in Education sector allows us to at least hope for a non-sluggish development in the sector of education. Be it teachers or students, we lag behind in the very basic levels. This percent allocation of public expenditure in the education sector ensures that we have enough government schools with adequate, educated teachers. While the school level is tackled, the infrastructure for higher education as college and research can grow exponentially too. While the promises of the major political parties have always been strong and high, their performance has been below average striking lower than mediocre performance.

Till now, Indian public expenditure has been channelled mainly into the defence sector but now that we focus to become a major developed and enlighten society, it is a must to allocate the needed resources on Education to ensure the optimum growth.

Hold your politicians accountable. Join us and co-create India’s largest people’s manifesto: unManifesto

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  1. Pavan Mayur

    Rachana,

    In India the problem is with the people , the parents of the students in the government school do not question the principal or other officials, so the things will be like this only.Once the people starts questioning things will change gradually, many officials are reckless because no one questions them. Though the present budget is not too high for the education ,if the present budget is implemented without much corruption we can bring quantum of change in the education system.Whatever the change we want should first first come from the citizens, then only we can change the scenario.

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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