National Girl Child Day: RTE Forum Demands Equal Status, Better Education for Girls

At a panel discussion, girls from underprivileged backgrounds spoke about the challenges they face on a daily basis to attain education.

New Delhi: Five years after the launch of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, the Right to Education (RTE) Forum organised a discussion on the ‘Status of Girls’ Education in India’ on the occasion of International Day of Education and National Girl Child Day on January 24, 2020, at the Indian Women’s Press Corps. 

Split among two panels, the discussion focussed on several issues ranging from the state of girl education in the country (especially the financially weaker strata of society), funds allotted to education in the union budget and the inequality among gender. 

Initiating the discussion, RTE Forum’s national convenor Ambarish Rai quoted the youngest Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, “We realise the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”

He also spoke about how the status of girls’ education in India is a matter of great concern as girls are twice less likely as boys to receive four years of schooling. 

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The first panel had adolescent girls from economically weaker sections of Delhi NCR voicing challenges they face daily to exercise their right to education. Neha, 15, who is hearing impaired and without speech, shared her experience via a translator. She said, “I like going to school but I do not understand much of what is taught in the class. The teachers are not equipped with sign language so most of the time, we are not able to communicate properly.”

Alka from Narela, an urban resettlement colony in Delhi, shared her concerns regarding infrastructural gaps at her school. While speaking to The Wire, she said, “There is no clean drinking water in my school, for which it becomes difficult for me and my friends. Even outside school, it is not safe for us.” Some of the other girls spoke about how they face inequality at home with regard to their male counterparts in the family. 

The adolescent girls from across Delhi NCR on the panel with Anubhuti Patra
from the campaign #spendonEd. Photo: RTE Forum

The second panel included journalist Urmilesh, Rita Singh, member of Delhi Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, Anjela Taneja from Oxfam India, Md. Salam Khan from Child Welfare Commission.  

As per the data RTE provided, 30% of girls from the poorest families have never set foot inside a classroom while 40% of girls aged between 15-18 years do not attend any educational institution. The panelists urged the MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) to take stricter measures to ensure better education. 

While the Centre earmarked Rs 93, 847.64 crore for the education sector for 2019-20, an increase of over 10% from the last budget allocation, the lack of basic amenities on the ground level still persists.

As the RTE Act is completing its 10 years, a campaign called #10yrsofRTE #SpendOnEdu #GirlsEdu campaign is being started to urge the government to “spend more, better and transparently”.