The Education of Girls in India and UK: A Comparative Analysis
The education of girl for any economy provides to be a big opportunity both in terms of social as well as economic terms. This is because the educated girls are considered to be the weapons in a society who can lead a positive impact because of their significant contribution at home as well as professional front. It is because of the contribution of the educated girls only that the condition of any society, economy or country e has been improved. The objective of this study is to understand the condition of education of girls in India in comparison to the education of girls in the United Kingdom in which the historical background of the economies are studied along with the current situation. The situations of both the economies are analyzed on the basis of which few recommendations have been made such as offering flexible school hours for the girls, providing more and easier scholarships for primary, secondary and particularly higher education, and many more. The study is conducted on the basis of secondary research majorly. On analyzing the past and present situations of both the nations on the education of girls, the study clearly concludes that the condition of the education of girls is quite poor in India in comparison to the United Kingdom where in even the physical infrastructure in the United Kingdom is more advanced in comparison to the India. Even the barriers to education for the girls are similar for both the nations. At the end, the paper concludes that both the United Kingdom and India has come a long way from restricting education for the girls completely to the girls outperforming boys. The study suggests that if the policy makers considers the recommendations made at the end of report, it may eventually improve the number of enrollments of the girls in the school there by improving the overall situation of the education of girls in both the nations.
Someone has rightly said that educating a man means educating and individual however educating a woman means educating the entire family. This means that the role of an educated mother in a family is a measurable and profound. The female play the role of primary caregiver for a newborn baby in majority of the societies by being in the form of a mother, sister, companion, nanny or grand mother. In fact a baby is is most of the times surrounded by female from the time he or she is in the womb to his or her early childhood. And this is how the future destiny of any child is dependent upon the education of the female, with the help of her facial expressions, language and words directly impact the future of the child. Indicate the benefits of educating a female are enormous and incomparable. Various researches show that the literacy rate of females have improved drastically in many developed and developing countries, child mortality rate has reduced thereby resulting in more educated and healthy children because of the various collaborations done by the government (Vaughan, 2013, p. 120). Despite enjoying these social benefits, even the economic benefits of educating a female are are many where in the literate females bring significant political benefits as well (Oyitso and Olomukoro, 2012). However, many countries, both developed and developing, fail to recognize the benefits offered to them by the educated females. Even in the 21st century they need to compete in almost all spheres of life ranging from education, sports, journalism and many more areas. There are debates in families whether to educate the girl child in their families and spend on there educational qualification or not. Girls receive opposition in order to get education. People even say that home is the proper sphere of the girls and that the financial expenditure done on the education of a girl is a complete waste. However, literate and educated girls play a significant role in the society and the overall economy who eventually help in bringing up the deprived and marginalized sections of the society (Ahamad and Narayana, 2015, p. 85). In fact girls are considered to be the mother of the race, backbone of any society and economy as a whole and guardian of the future generations as well (Ember, 2020, pp. 29-30). That is why it is very important to educate the girls in a family because they are the ones on home the next generation is dependent upon and even the destination of an economy is also dependent upon the educated girls. However, the point of view on educating a girl is different from culture to culture, religion to religion, country to country and person to person. While the major culture in most parts of the India, particularly the rural areas, is to keep the girls at home thereby depriving them of receiving the education whereas in countries like United Kingdom, this culture is highly minimal and the girls are encouraged more to receive education comparatively (Jain et al. 2017, p. 26).
Education of girls in India
There was hardly any education for the girls living in India for more than 400 years ago. Neither there were girls aloud to receive education in co-ed schools not there were special schools for girls. Only a few girls could receive some education that too at home wherein those girls belonged to upper classes and upper castes. At that time literacy of girls was considered to be a disgrace wherein the mindset of the parents was such that they never considered providing education to the girls of their families (Kainuwa and Yusuf, 2013, p. 7). There were many reasons attached to this such as limited finances within the families in which the expenditure was done on priority basis and the priority was given to the education of the boys instead of girls (Azam, M. and Kingdon, 2013, p. 144). Even the girls who were migrant from other local States for international countries but not given much weight age for receiving education. This diaspora of girls was another reason for not receiving enough value in education sector. Another reason was that girls and females are meant to you only take care of the home and their family members instead of moving out, receiving education for moving out for employment. In fact the families in India had a superstitious feeling which existed in the mindset of most of the Hindu families that a girl would become a widow if she is taught to write and read (Chanana, 2001, p. 39. It can be rightly said that the overall situation of the education of girls in India was highly unsatisfactory. It was then in 1824 in which the “American mission” was started which focused on the education of girls in Mumbai (Shah, 2011, p. 100). As many as 500 girls were given admission within 5 years of the mission in that school following which more and more girls were enrolled in primary schools. Later in 1870, establishment of training colleges for females was done for the very first time in which training was imparted to the females in order to become teaching faculties in girls’ schools. Use progress could be noted because of all these efforts in the education of girls in the late 19th century (Mondal, 2015).
While the female literacy rate was very low historically, it has greatly improved since India got its independence. The Government of India started to give significant importance to the education of girls once the republic of India was established. The trend improved and the average male and female literacy rates improved drastically in which promotion of educating girls was done vigorously. Historically, even the 50% of the human resources in India could not be tapped by the government clearly because of its inability to impart education to the girls. Researches even argued that the sustainable human development cannot prove to be effective if almost 50% of the human resources which are the females are marginalized, ignored and discriminated against. The policy makers started to realize that the economic development of the nation would be impeded if both genders do not receive equal and quality education. And this is it since the independence, the Government of India started to focus and put in more efforts to encourage and incentivize girls to enroll themselves in school by means of various programs provided to them such as free books, uniforms, mid day meals and much more. Today, as of now the government has made it compulsory for both girls and boys to receive education across the nation in which day education is free for or the students aging between 6 to 14 years. In fact, the participation of girls and their performance in in many subjects has outperformed boys significantly (Gupta, 2012, p. 156). Even the girls in the subject physical education which needs mental as well as physical input of the girls in order to study that subject are excelling very well. This clearly depicts that the girls are breaking all the barriers and stereotypes to prove themselves in this competitive market where they are equally competing with the boys and even out performing them.
Education of girls in United Kingdom
United Kingdom, being an advanced country, has witnessed quite a versus quality of education which is available for girls in comparison to the boys. However, the situation there was much better than what it was in India in which the girls received comparatively more opportunities who grasped them whenever possible in comparison to the opportunities available to the girls in India. Yet, there were times when United Kingdom witnessed a shortage of formal education for girls. Hence, they were seen to be receiving informal education to some extent instead of receiving formal education as they could not afford anything as expensive as books of there on thereby leaving them in their wills. The educational opportunities were slim for or most of the girls in United Kingdom in which there were different educational priorities for different people. Besides this, the girls in in United Kingdom could receive education from only two sources majorly- the image at family members of the girl and church, be it for any subject (Watermeyer, 2012, p. 670). The nuns and monks could only read and write in the Latin language usually and the sons of the wealthy families would learn from them to whom tuition fee would be paid. The girls were not allowed to be included usually until and unless they were ready to turn into nuns themselves (Elliott and Hoyle, 2014, p. 350). However, when the teaching would take place within the family home, the boys and girls both could be included. Besides this, unlike in India in which only girls belonging to the upper classes would receive education, the middle class females were highly educated and they would pass on that education and knowledge to their daughters and sons. However, the transfer of knowledge to the girls was done with the basic purpose of teaching them to carry on the household activities instead of encouraging them to get an employment outside the house. In fact, the father of the girl would not even let them enter a nunnery because they considered girls to commit a sin if they received any kind of education. The history moved forward steadily towards the direction of success and progress. This was the time when girls would enjoy a greater measure of education and freedom in the society. The merchant class in the United Kingdom was growing steadily and this meant that there was an increase in the number of merchant class people who would look forward to educate their daughters. This was done with the purpose of seeking their help in the family business unlike in earlier times in which women were not allowed to receive education and work. The situation was study improving and it became usual in this time period in which the business merchants would completely e leave there enterprises to there wife in their wills. This clearly demonstrated that girls given well and enough knowledge so that they could fulfill these roles and that imparting education to the females was being used as an advantage. The later years, called as the Georgian period, witnessed great sparks in the education of girls with a step forward in there freedom and education in the United Kingdom. This marked the beginning of new movement call as bluestocking movement in which the educational pursuits were shared by the girls and females belonging to the upper class. However this resulted in ‘separate sphere’ theory in which society changed to hold notions such that the girls should take care of home children and basically do household management whereas meals must go outside the home and earn for the family. Although the society was educating the girls equally and that the literacy rates of the females was increasing rapidly, the separate spheres theory resulted in discontinuation of the education of the girls alongside the boys particularly in the wealthy families. However, similar things were taught to them alongside. While the girls were allowed to receive education from the governess or only go to the local schools, boys were allowed to go to the boarding schools. Even the education of the girls was not tailor towards their role of being a mother and house wife. Instead of teaching them challenging and intellectual things, girls for now tot on how to manage servants, sew or even making delicate conversations. This was found to be chafing by many young girls. The Victorian area or in the 1840s, the females had started to feel more and more frustrated because of the lack of educational opportunities for them. By that time only 40% of the females were literate. This meant that more and more opportunities were available only for boys to improve themselves and that the opportunities related to education were also available for boys only (Barnard et al., 2012, p. 194-195). However, the situation changed for good drastically and the opportunities which were available only for men started to accept the females as well. Slowly, both the demand for educated girls and their supply increased drastically. Now the schools had even started to open for particularly girls which were founded by bye the rich females of the society e believed in the notion that their fellow have the right to receive education (Maguire, 2005, p. 560). Initially, only the girls belonging to wealthy families were given admission in the school who could afford their fees. However, when the government made education compulsory for all children aging between 5 to 10 years by means of funding available with the government, the enrollment of the girls began to increase. This meant that all the girls were to receive education with guarantee in law but not in fact because many poor parents needed the income generated from child labor and hence restricted them from going to schools.
Just like India and many other countries, United Kingdom has come a long way from witnessing high gender gaps in education to minimizing these gender gaps. The last few decades of the twentieth century witnessed an overall increase in the enrolment of the girls in the schools and improvement in their academic results as well. The past few decades have witnessed that not only the schools have allowed increasing admission to girls but also the colleges and universities as well. This is particularly in case of the Cambridge and Oxford University. The first university in the United Kingdom to award degrees to the females was University of London which was done in 1878. When the girls started to receive more education, they were also granted with the right to vote. Now, the universities in the United Kingdom which earlier only allowed the girls to study there and awarding degrees to them. Unlike in India, the diaspora of girls who came from other countries to United Kingdom to receive education were started to gain attention in the form of education (Bhopal, 2009, p. 28). The girls faced criticism from the male scholars who burnt fireworks at the windows of the educational institutions of the girls and even burnt effigies. The last five decades have now witnessed equal education for boys and girls which is hard to believe that it this is legal now. In fat the universities are witnessing more number of admissions of girls in comparison to the boys and even the level of performance of the girls is better than that of the boys. They are completely over taking the boys there by dramatically changing the landscape of education in United Kingdom (Cockburn and Clarke, 2002, pp. 660-661). Although, there still exist some bias against females in the educational institutions, it is believed that this would also go away with time. Today, girls and boys are neck and neck, be it any field or rather they are outperforming boys. Unlike earlier times, when girls used to select only few subjects such as home science or arts have now started to opt for more technical subjects such as STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), commerce, and likewise. The girls are even choosing non traditional courses and performing with excellence in those fields such as hair dressers, fire women, drivers, tattoo makers and likewise which were associated with the males only. The economy even offers wide range of courses for both boys and girls without any discrimination or stereotype by associating and limiting a particular course to a particular gender only.
The Government of the various nations are taking in numerable initiatives in order to close the the educational gaps between boys and girls and also encourage more and more girls to enroll themselves in higher education, yet there are few recommendations which can be considered by the policy makers of the various nations which can help the girls receive the education which they deserve. Few of the suggestions are-
1. Equal access to education- the policy makers must consider the goal of offering equal access to education in their plans which support the smaller community initiatives thereby promoting a a positive attitude towards offering educational opportunities to the girls. They must also support the local communities in raising awareness on the importance of imparting education to all the genders of the society. The policy makers must also consider creating a learning environment which is gender sensitive to ensure that the right to education is enjoyed by all the genders.
2. Educating males about gender equality- the males must be educated about the concept of gender equality and its benefits to the families as well as the economy as only then the mindset of the society can be changed. The males must be e included as a solution who can help in bringing about a change in the social norms in the mindset of the local communities and the economy as a whole.
3. Scholarships for girls- although the government it has already provided with benefits of scholarships for the girls, things are practically difficult where in the scholarship procedure is highly complex. Even the scholarships are very limited. Hence, the government is suggested to offer more and easy scholarship availability to the girls as it helped them with their school uniforms, tuition fee, safe transportation and school supplies as well.
4. Challenging gender roles- the society has decided the roles of the genders in which the male is considered to be the earning member of the family and the female is considered to be the caretaker of the home and the family members. However, it is important to raise awareness at all the levels of the family and community thereby promoting positive attitude for the education of the girls and break the gender stereotypes by engaging the people of the society through open communication.
5. Preventing violence in schools- the policy-makers and management must consider schools and educational environment which is free of any kind of violence and that a safe learning environment is provided to the girls. This may mean that female teachers may be hired who can offer social support as well for the girls thereby creating a safe space for them to learn.
6. Flexible hours for schooling- this is in particular for the rural areas in which girls find fixed schooling hours difficult for them to manage as they are expected to do domestic work as well during these hours. In fact this is is a major reason for or lower participation rate of the girls in schools. If the school hours are search that they are suitable for the girls according to their schedule, it may help in improving the enrollment as well as retention rate of the girls in the schools. In fact, researchers have also concluded in their studies that the results are positive and encouraging in the regions wherein flexible timings of the school have been tried for the students (Ali and Khawaja, 2017).
7. Coming up of the various authorities- NGOs, community members, higher authorities and other members of the societies are further suggested to to take the responsibility of eradicating the different obstacles and barriers which are hampering the female section of the society to receive education.
There are a lot of debates on the concepts such as literacy rate, women education, gender equality and likewise. The above discussion clearly shows that there are huge gaps between both the countries in which the girls in India are receiving comparatively lesser education than the girls in United Kingdom. However, both the countries are facing gender inequality as an issue when it comes to education sports or any other area in which women participation is lesser in comparison to male participation. The Government of both the economies need to encourage and take measures to improve the literacy level of girls to improve the overall condition of the economies. While the education to the girls in India was very much limited, the situation in the United Kingdom was better despite India have lesser amount of educational fee when compared to the fee structure of the schools and universities in the United Kingdom. There are some common barriers identified for both the economies because of which the girls are still not receiving enough education particularly in United Kingdom which is a developed country. History is evident that both these countries are facing discrimination against females and that the education of girls has been a rough journey. Despite having world class and famous institutions like Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management which are known all over the globe, India is still behind the United Kingdom particularly because of its physical infrastructure as well as the education system there. Yet, both the nations are trying their best to over come the past challenges wherein the policy makers have included the objective of educating girls as a major goal of their plan. The policy makers of both the nations are taking in numerous initiative for the betterment of the girls of their nation. It is because of the initiatives by the policy makers and government, the literacy rate of girls has improved drastically but at the same time it needs to be improved much more. It can be said that the initiatives taken by the policy makers must be now put to practical use in order to completely establish the human resources of its economy in which half of them is underutilized.
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