EDUCATION TRIBUNE

Gender disparity well entrenched
Need to make concerted efforts to change age-old social norms
Dharam Pal Mor
g
irls’ education has a significant correlation with eradication of poverty, increasing family health, lowering birth rates, and improving overall quality of living of a family. Increased female education is one of the most powerful tools to women empowerment. Education can also reduce domestic violence to a great extent, as illiterate women are less likely to resist violence than educated women.

Translating education into employment
D. S. Cheema
T
he number of schools, colleges and universities have increased manifold since Independence. However, the basic aim of education—to provide employment—has not been achieved so far due to the lack of vision of the central and state governments.

Campus NoteS
CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar
Award for senior microbiologist

Dr S. S. Dudeja, a senior microbiologist, has won the Recognition Award for 2006-2007 for his research on pulse crops. The award is given by the Indian Society of Pulses Research and Development (ISPRD). Dr Dudeja has been working for the last 30 years on biofertilisers and biological nitrogen fixation.

  • Seminar on food value addition

  • Prize for varsity student

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Gender disparity well entrenched
Need to make concerted efforts to change age-old social norms
Dharam Pal Mor

girls’ education has a significant correlation with eradication of poverty, increasing family health, lowering birth rates, and improving overall quality of living of a family. Increased female education is one of the most powerful tools to women empowerment. Education can also reduce domestic violence to a great extent, as illiterate women are less likely to resist violence than educated women. With more education, fertility per woman also drops significantly. It also helps reduce the infant mortality rate and the studies have shown that by adding one extra year to girl’s education, infant mortality is reduced to about 5 to10 per cent.

In Africa, children of mothers who receive five years of primary education are 40 per cent more likely to live beyond age five. Women’s education generally has more impact than men’s education on children’s schooling. Studies have also shown that children of educated women study for extra hours per day.

The government is committed to provide free and compulsory education to all children. The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002, has put greater responsibility on the Centre as well as states to ensure universalisation of education. However, in spite of all these efforts, India is among the 86 countries, which are at risk of not achieving gender parity in education even by 2015.

According to the UNESCO 2006 report on literacy, the overall dropout rate in India is as high as 14.4 per cent for Class I, out of which more than half are girls. Sadly enough, 21 per cent children don’t reach Class V. The report brings out that India has slipped to 105th rank (out of 149 countries with data) on global education parameters, which is five ranks down since last year. Although female enrolment in the country is rapidly increasing at the primary level, but female transition rates to secondary schooling still remain low.

Koichiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, while speaking at the UNESCO Regional Conference on Global Literacy held in Delhi recently, pointed out the huge gender disparity in education in our country. She lamented that 66 per cent dropouts in the region are girls, which is the highest share worldwide.

The low value attached to female education is linked to deep-rooted cultural norms. The culture assigns gender-specific roles due to which the sons are preferred over daughters in almost all households. Since sex ratio is an important indicator to measure the extent of prevailing equity between males and females at a given point of time, the low sex ratio, particularly in Punjab and Haryana, points out towards serious and deliberate discrimination against the girl child.

In a study carried out by the writer in Ferozepore and Moga districts, gender disparity was evident in all the sampled primary and upper primary schools both in the urban as well as rural areas.

A general belief prevailed among the most households that private schools are better than government schools. Therefore, most parents preferred private schools for male children while government schools for female children.

In rural areas of Moga district, there were just 2.06 per cent girls enrolled in private schools, whereas the proportion of boys was higher to about 3.28 per cent. Similarly in urban areas, of the total enrolled girls, 57.87 per cent were in government primary schools while 42.13 per cent of the total enrolled girls were in the private primary schools. With respect to boys, the proportion studying in private primary schools was 46.39 per cent, which is about 4 per cent higher than the girls.

Teachers said that some of the major ways of discrimination were that the parents enrol sons in good private schools while daughters in government schools. More than 80 per cent teachers from both primary as well as upper primary schools of Ferozepore district were of the opinion that girls are engaged in domestic work more than the boys and thus they are either not sent to schools at all or if sent, they get very little time for study at home. More than one-third teachers in the upper primary schools of both the districts were of the opinion that the girls are discriminated in distribution of uniforms and textbooks.

There was a clear-cut gap in the rate of the enrolment of girls than that of boys. However, the academic performance of girls, by and large, was better than boys, both at the primary and upper primary levels. With regard to performance of students, the proportion of low achievers was higher for boys than girls. It indicated that the girls performed better than the boys, whereas the proportion of girls, whose scores were more than 80 per cent marks, was higher than the boys, which means that among the higher achievers, the number of girls was more than the boys.

Since gender-based social norms in the family, community and society significantly influence the ability of girl children’s access to education, there is a need to change these norms so that the girls are viewed at par with the boys. It is, however, easier said than done but an attempt should always be made.

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Translating education into employment
D. S. Cheema

The number of schools, colleges and universities have increased manifold since Independence. However, the basic aim of education—to provide employment—has not been achieved so far due to the lack of vision of the central and state governments.

Employability is directly related to skills, whether conceptual, technical, managerial or physical, which one acquires through education, experience and maturity. Such skills, acquired by converting information into knowledge and wisdom, tend to play a vital role in getting and retaining employment.

So, those who acquire knowledge but don’t do hard work to hone their skills remain unemployable and hence, unemployed. Therefore, the problem is not unemployment but unemployability. Tradesmen like carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians, etc., integrate the right blend of knowledge and skills and never remain out of work.

Even those who have little knowledge and with hardly any skills continue to thrive in the system. This phenomenon can be easily explained: A roadside mechanic knows to fix a vehicle but knows almost nothing about automobile engineering. He thrives because he is much cheaper compared to the “authorised” mechanic.

Subsequent governments have failed to identify the real problem and have instead focussed on the information and knowledge part of education, ignoring the skill aspect. The real challenge is to make education skill-oriented. However, the present-day education system does not ensure skill-feeding and lays emphasis on theoretical inputs only.

Universities and professional education have become completely meaningless for students. Their aim is to get a degree, which they hope to later use to get a job. Students, parents and teachers are all disillusioned with the present education system. There is a growing resentment and a sense of futility about the system, as credibility has eroded drastically.

Campus unrest, poor attendance in schools and colleges, and students losing respect of their parents and teachers, and turning to drugs are the outcome of turbulent minds.

Training the youth to make them employable remains a major challenge.

According to UNESCO, “education is organised and sustained instruction designed to communicate a combination of knowledge, skill and understanding reliable for all activities of life”. However, the education system here hardly makes a person “reliable” for any of the life’s activities.

Since 1950, primary schools have increased four times, secondary education schools up 20 times, colleges for general education up from 370 to 14,000, professional education colleges from 210 to over 8,000 and universities from 29 to 400. However, this has only increased the number of unemployed youth. In 1951, only 46 persons per lakh of population were enrolled for higher education. In the past 50 years, the ratio has seen an increase and now stands at 700 persons per lakh.

Also, over 3.2 crore students from 14 to 18 years are studying in higher secondary schools, but around seven crore persons in the age group are already out of schools. Similarly, around eight million students are enrolled for higher education in the age group of 19 to 23 years and over 10 times the number is out of the system.

A nation can ill-afford such a large number of able-bodied persons out of schooling or higher education system. The attitude towards socially relevant jobs such masonry, painting, carpentry, plumbing, etc. needs to be corrected. Industrial training institutes (ITIs) do not give them sufficient knowledge and skill to earn a livelihood and Indian institutes of technology (IITs) are too high-tech and beyond the reach of over 99 per cent of the population.

So, where do the boys and girls go after completing matric or 10+2? Education must enable a student to realise his full potential. It must provide them with the foundation of basic value system for the knowledge and skill one may acquire over a period of time.

The education system does not have the conviction of social relevance and this, unfortunately, has not received the kind of attention it deserves from those who are interested in evolving a purposeful educational system.

There is a need for change of the relationship between school, college, university and society. This can be done through knowledge inputs as well as development of values among people.

Traditionally, universities have been isolated from society and community. This isolation has made society indifferent to the role universities can play in the day-to-day lives of people. College and universities should act as knowledge resource centres by interacting with society, understanding and making efforts in solving its problems.

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Campus NoteS
CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar
Award for senior microbiologist

Dr S. S. Dudeja, a senior microbiologist, has won the Recognition Award for 2006-2007 for his research on pulse crops. The award is given by the Indian Society of Pulses Research and Development (ISPRD). Dr Dudeja has been working for the last 30 years on biofertilisers and biological nitrogen fixation. Apart from developing efficient microbial inoculants for pulse crops and ascertaining the reasons for poor nodulation of pigeon pea, he has been able to assess and characterise molecular diversity of chickpea rhizobia in Haryana soils.

A recipient of DAE Fellowship and twice Joint Secretary of Association of Microbiologists of India, Dr Dudeja has over 75 research papers to his credit.

Meanwhile, the Indian Society for Veterinary Surgery has awarded Fellowship of the Society to Dr Rishi Tayal, a senior scientist of the university, in recognition of his contributions to the field of veterinary surgery and radiology. Dr Tayal has also been re-elected as Joint Secretary of the society for a term of two years.

Seminar on food value addition

The Directorate of Extension Education of Haryana Agricultural University organised a seminar on “Value Addition of Plant Foods” at the Haryana Pavilion of the India-International Trade Fair recently.

Dr R. K. Malik, Director, Extension Education, acquainted the farmers with economic and nutritional aspects of bajra crop and advised them to take up cultivation of bajra. He asked them to use bajra for preparing value-added products.

He said bajra being a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre, it could be used for preparing nutritional biscuits, rabri , complimentary foods and weaning mixtures.

Varsity scientists highlighted the importance of processing of fruits and vegetables to minimise their losses. They explained the processing of various kinds of pickles, sauces squashes, cheese, chutneys, and ready-to-serve juices from ber, guava and aonla.

Prize for varsity student

Rachna Khyalia of Haryana Agricultural University won consolation prize of Rs 2,500 in best individual speaker category at the 3rd National Inter-University Debate Competition held at New Delhi recently. Several hundred students from different universities in the country took part in the competition.

— Contributed by Raman Mohan

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