Increasing enrolment in pvt schools leading to gender inequality: Study

Amit Mitra Hyderabad | Updated on November 12, 2017

Eight-year-old Shanmukha Priya and her elder brother, belonging to an economically weaker section family residing in a village deep in the rural areas of Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, were shifted from a Government school to a private school by their parents for better studies.

But five days later, Shanmukha was shifted back to her old Government school, as the parents could not afford the higher fees for their two siblings.

But why the discrimination? “Shanmukha will in any case get married and go” — was how her mother put it.

This is a clear symptom of an ominous trend that is sweeping the Indian education sector. While enrolment in private institutions has significantly surged, even in rural and backward areas, this is leading to a great deal of inequality, both in terms of gender and affordability.

This was one of the findings of an ongoing longitudinal study by international organisation Young Lives, on childhood poverty spanning a 15-year period from 2002 across four countries — Ethiopia, Peru, Vietnam and India (in Andhra Pradesh). The study is tracking 3,000 children in two age groups in the State and 9,000 in the other three countries.

The study, the third in the series so far, has shown that in the last seven years, the proportion of private schools in primary education in Andhra Pradesh has nearly doubled from 23 per cent to over 44 per cent. “The rapidly rising share of the private sector in education may represent either a desire for English-medium education or a belief that private institutions provide better education than those in the Government sector,” Dr Renu Singh, Director of Young Lives India, told Business Line.

Gender inequality

While in its first round of survey in 2002, the share of boys and girls in private schools in rural areas was 25.1 per cent and 21.4 per cent, respectively. Eight years later, the mix is 50.4 per cent boys and 37.1 per cent girls, indicating the growing gender inequality, according to the study.

“Furthermore, many of the private schools were found to be unrecognised, and therefore, not monitored to ensure delivery of good education,” Dr Singh points out.

Gender discrimination is also discernible in the case of drop-outs. Not only beginning school slightly later than boys, more girls (15 per cent) have dropped out than boys (10 per cent).

It was also seen that values of education were better understood in families which had some degree of material education.

Published on October 30, 2011

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