“Education is a human right imperative, a development imperative and a peace imperative. The global learning crisis violates human rights, undermines social cohesion, threatens stability and creates a lost generation that cannot join in the lives of their societies.”
-Malala Yousafazi and Kailash Sathyarthi
(Nobel Peace Prize Winners, 2014)
Education as a “Right”:
“Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights. It promotes individual freedom and empowerment and yields important development benefits. Yet millions of children and adults remain deprived of educational opportunities, many as a result of poverty. Normative instruments of the United Nations and UNESCO lay down international legal obligations for the right to education. These instruments promote and develop the right of every person to enjoy access to education of good quality, without discrimination or exclusion. These instruments bear witness to the great importance that Member States and the international community attach to normative action for realizing the right to education. It is for governments to fulfil their obligations both legal and political in regard to providing education for all of good quality and to implement and monitor more effectively education strategies. Education is a powerful tool by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully as citizens.”
Hindrance in Women Education
The difference in spatial parity and failed educational governance (even at primary level) leads to more difficulties for women to attend schools as compared to men; the urban and rural indifference followed by social preference of schools and areas hinders women education, especially in senior secondary education where people with secluded mindset avoid co-ed education for girls; patterns of transportation and migration which later affect educational benefits of women and hinders her ability to acquire knowledge. The topography also poses a serious challenge to the community as in some extreme cases where children are forced to stay at home due to frequent flooding and natural calamities.
Social and Cultural hindrance:
The major reason that hinders the ability f women to learn is the bias quantity of male learners. The ancient system of early marriages and early pregnancy (in and out of marriage) followed by heavier domestic duties for female (especially in rural areas); the ignorance of women cooperation to the society, heavily affect formal education for women. The problems of secluded mindset and insecurity can also be added to the list of hindrances. Such long list of hindrances grips a woman in obtaining formal education, in short a better life adding challenges to already burdened women.
To understand as to why children fail to make up to schools, we first have to understand the factors keeping them away from formal education. Poor economic conditions play one of major roles in keeping the children away from formal education (talking about both the sexes). Boys are favoured for nourishment while girls that are already burdened, are left undernourished. Even if they managed to reach schools, their physical conditions prevent them to understand, hampering their learning abilities. Health problems associating with pregnancy, especially in teenage girls is one reason keeping them away from formal education. Problems with large families hamper woman’s ability to learn thus creating a space for formal health/sex education at schools. It is very clear that health adversely affects a child in obtaining formal education, making him weak, vulnerable and an illiterate in the society.
The duo factors of social and cultural ignorance towards education, and sliding economics of the state, poverty and hunger are the most prominent factors hampering female education, especially in rural areas. Under such harsh economic conditions, family feels afraid to send their children to schools as their only source of income (either by labour or farming) is disrupted by the absence of younger generation absence. Many families couldn’t afford formal school books and uniforms as their economy worsens. In many of the cases the labour is quite less and the family is dependent of most of the children doing odd jobs, hence loss of one child is loss of appetite. In patriarchal system, the loss of girl child means more consumption of finance for the girl, which the family often relieves their responsibility of their child. Talking about the privileged class “marrying well” is all they care. This is the difference between the rural and urban living. Under these conditions, vocational education is the best possible solution, where the girl child can gain knowledge at home, however the courseware if we talk about, is quite weak and no discussion has ever been made on it. In some countries, low turnouts, unavailability of school teachers, low morale and less lucrative schemes costs children their formal education.
In most of the cases, religion plays an important deciding factor, favouring males for formal education, on the contrary keeping women at home. The fact that religions have described education an important tool for knowledge and betterment in the society, the case of religious leaders not coming up in the open to promote “education for girls” keeps the issue silent. Christian missions and other catholic institutions have recognised the need of education for women, though some harsh sanctions have been labelled on pregnant women. The fact that pregnant women cannot study is quite surprising. In Islamic areas, the situation is quite not supportive. The weightage of knowledge in a rural Hindu family still persists in the least of priorities setting a series of discomforts especially among the women to wish to make something in life. In contrast to the stable economy and educational requirements, the lucrative schemes by the government agencies have also equally to blame. They are the deciding factor for families to send their children to school or not; especially when their children are getting meals twice a day.
Political (Un) Willingness:
There is no denying that governmental polices exist in terms of education and its awareness, equal education opportunities for both the genders is another important issue to discuss. Eradicating gender biasness from political affiliations and educational texts brings a little twist to our discussion here. The formation of separate governmental bodies or Ministries for women welfare comprises untrained staffs which then create policies that are either implemented after years of discussions or doesn’t get implemented at all. The roles of NGO’s are equally importance here. In most of the cases, political discussions, political agendas and political will comes with constraints and at some point of time all these three get entangled in some way or the other, hampering women education policies and uplifting processes. Language barriers are quite common in formal education and women at times fee “trapped”. The question of low female participation hampers the overall development of the state, as women are equal partners as compared to women, which has no denying.
This factor is itself “unavailable” to female participation. Poor accessibility, unavailability of resources poor, teacher quality and low morale hinders women from getting formal education. However the real problem exists in the case of rural women. Parents in many states feel quite comfortable in sending their female children to school with female teachers, but then again the security and basic utilities for women are absent. The daily routines of schools are quite dysfunctional and no parents will send their child in a school where the personal integrity is compromised. At times parents don’t send their children as they find the curriculum is unattractive in instrumental terms. At secondary levels, due to the teenage child, no parent would want her around an unsafe atmosphere where hostel facilities are improper. Vocational education is weak and schemes open to girls in this field are particularly useful. Again the widespread of gender biasness in texts creates an issue.
Today, it is the girl education that is lacking in education. They comprise almost 54% of the population tat haven’t been in school. This problem persists primarily in the Arab regions, in central Asia and in Southern and Western Asia and exists largely due to cultural and social dominance of male in the region. Girls are destined to stay at home and boys are allowed to have access to formal education. In Arab regions, more than 12 million girls are at stake of not going to schools ever and the list may increase. If this issue continued to exists, 80% of girls in Yemen will not be able to school. This issues escalate when we talk about education levels in war torn nations like Afghanistan and Somalia, where education is formally allowed only to male population.
About the author
Anant Mishra is a Former Youth Representative to United Nations. He has served in number of committees as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and United Nations Security Council (UNCS)