Editor’s Note: Two students from the Teach For India classrooms in Chhatrapati Shivaji Vidyalya, Dharavi write about the importance of educating a girl child for #EveryGirlInSchool
1. Our ancestors had this belief that girls are a burden to a family, and thus when a woman gave birth to a girl child, that child was not accepted. The child that could neither speak nor see the world properly, the one who just came into this world with no clue about anything, used to be given away to death. Later on, when awareness was spread that girls also have a right to live and flourish, the uneducated were shown a path that our human species can only move on because of women. After that, girls were given the right to live but that was more cruel than pushing her towards death because a girl child then faced many restrictions – she needed to stay at home, work, should not excel in education and just learn how to get ready for marriage. I truly believe that this made the girls’ lives cruel. And the first thing that gets into one’s head is why one would live a cruel life? Death is better than this. This is still seen in the 21st century, which is recognised as an era of technology and development. But we don’t realise we left women behind. Their development is also necessary. For this, the government has assumed the financial costs of providing education to all. In doing so, it has paid not only for the minimum amount of education required by all, but also for additional education at higher levels available to youngsters.
Development is necessary in every walk of life, that’s how humans have evolved, that’s how we achieve our goals. We have great ideal personalities in front of us, who prove and make us believe in possibilities. And all women today should understand that it is their right to be educated, not because they are women, but because they are human beings. Education brings awareness, self respect and self reliance. Imagine if each individual of our nation is educated, what effect would that have on our nation? If each human would be self reliant, poverty would be eliminated and the ripple effect of education in form of exponential development of the being and the nation would accelerate. Therefore, education is important for everyone, regardless of gender.
– Iffat Shaikh, Class 10, Chhatrapati Shivaji Vidyalya, Dharavi
2. What makes for a strong nation?
Education is meant for all. In fact, it is a fundamental human right of every child, whether a boy or girl, able or disabled, to acquire basic education. One of the barriers for this is poverty.
Poverty is the biggest factor determining girls’ access to education. A number of factors contribute to girls from poor families to not being able to attend school, the biggest of which is improper access to free education, this results in an added financial burden on families which may come in the form of school fees, school uniform, transportation, etc. Such fees is a direct barrier to school attendance for girls, either because families cannot afford these costs or the costs may force the families to select which of their children to send to school. In such instances, boys are favored because of low social and economic value placed on the education of girls.
To reduce this, the state must guarantee free and compulsory education. This is not happening because the money in the economy is not being used effectively. Another reason for not sending girl child to school is early marriage.
There are a lot of factors which affect the education of a girl child in our country, but if we really want to change the country, I think what has to be changed is the mindset, making laws might still look like forcing what we think is right on someone, but if the mindset of people changes and they realize that education, regardless of the gender, is important for development of a rational human being, then laws and regulations would not be that mandatory in the process of making a strong nation.
– Abdul Khan, Class 9, Chhatrapati Shivaji Vidyalya, Dharavi