‘Poori Padhai, Desh Ki Bhalai’ Campaign to Promote Girl’s Education Across India

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Poori Padhai, Desh Ki Bhalai, aimed at promoting and ensuring the completion of education for girl children across 20 states, in India. The initiative officially launched by Child Rights and You (CRY) on 24th June 2024, highlights the urgent need for girls to complete their education and addresses the concerning dropout rates for girls and the reasons behind it, while also acknowledging the progress in school enrolment, infrastructure, and access to education.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 aimed to provide universal education for Indian children up to the age of 14 years. As the landmark act celebrated its 15th anniversary this April, many girls still lack access to secondary and higher secondary education. The National Education Policy 2020 has paved the way to extend universal, free, and quality education up to age 18, aligning with the promises of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG Goal-4) for equitable education by 2030.

However, as the latest Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE+) 21-22 data reveals, only three of every five girls in India make it to the higher secondary level of education. While there has been significant improvement in school enrolment, infrastructure, and access to education, more remains to be done regarding the completion of school education for girls.

Socio-economic challenges, cultural norms, gender discrimination, early marriages, inadequate school facilities, long travel distances, and safety concerns continue to pose problems for girls in completing their higher secondary education. These factors tend to increase school dropouts and make them more vulnerable to child labour, underage marriage, teenage pregnancy, abuse, exploitation, and even child trafficking.

Highlighting the importance of the campaign, Puja Marwaha, CEO of CRY, stated, “Ensuring higher secondary education for girls is non-negotiable for their empowerment and the nation’s development. Targeted interventions with specific goals and action points are needed to support girls beyond elementary education. This includes adequate public provisioning for girls’ education, financial incentives, improved infrastructure, community engagement, and robust enforcement of laws against child marriage. But none of these are possible without generating mass awareness and social resonance around girls’ education.

The Poori Padhai, Desh Ki Bhalai campaign by CRY and its partner organizations aims to create widespread awareness within its operational areas about the importance of enrolment and retention of girls in primary, upper-primary, secondary, and higher secondary education. The campaign will strive to involve all relevant stakeholders, including children and their families, educators and community members, state administrative authorities, students at schools, colleges, and universities, media houses and social media influencers, corporates and high-net-worth individuals (HNIs), and the general public.

Ms. Trina Chakrabarti, Regional Director of CRY (East), emphasized the transformative power of education for girls: “Ensuring that girls complete their education is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Educated girls are more likely to contribute to the economic and social development of their communities, lead healthier lives, and provide better opportunities for their children. This campaign is a crucial step towards a brighter and more equitable future.

A deep dive into the UDISE+ 21-22 datasets reveals that a little less than 60 percent (58.2%) of girls are enrolled in higher secondary education. In other words, only three of every five girls in India make it to the 11th and 12th standards (calculations based on Gross Enrolment Ratio – GER).

CRY analysis of the same database further suggests that one of every three girls (35%) of the corresponding age group is out of school at the secondary level, while one of every eight girls (12.25%) of the corresponding age group drops out and hence does not complete secondary education (calculations based on Adjusted Net Enrolment Rate – ANER).

The Poori Padhai, Desh Ki Bhalai campaign will run until August 15, 2024, coinciding with Independence Day, symbolizing the freedom and empowerment that education brings to girls.

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