Containing drop-out of girl students

Dhaka,  Fri,  23 June 2017
Published : 17 Mar 2017, 20:53:06
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Containing drop-out of girl students

It is quite heartening to note that enrolment of girls has outnumbered that of the boys at the primary and secondary levels. Further gratifying is the fact that girls are found to outshine boys in terms of exam results. Although quite inspiring, this however does not tell the entire narrative of girls' education in the country. There is a flip side to it, and sadly, it is disappointing. How many of these girls are in a position to pursue their studies beyond the secondary and higher secondary levels is a question that the government and all concerned should find an answer to, and address it with all earnestness.

A newspaper report quoting a study on the subject says although enrolment of girls in the primary and secondary schools has increased manifold, drop-out is still a regular phenomenon. This is common to boys too, but the rate is higher in case of girls. True, government intervention by way of stipend, free books and free tuition has brought a noticeable change in girls' education. The Corporate Social Responsibly (CSR) schemes of business houses, particularly banks, have also encouraged parents, especially rural ones, to have their girl children enrolled in schools. But these are not enough of a boost yet to help them overcome many hurdles in order to stay in schools and plan to move farther ahead. There are a lot of things linked to an issue like girls’ education, and approaching it simplistically will not at all help.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics and University Grants Commission, girls now account for 54 per cent of secondary enrolment, 51 per cent of primary enrolment and 40 per cent of higher education enrolment. The rates are higher compared with those a few years ago. Girls currently account for 51 per cent of around 11 million students in all primary schools, and 53 per cent of nearly 2.0 million students at the secondary level. But the numbers begin to shrink from the higher secondary level. In 2016, girls accounted for 41 per cent of the 3.7 million students in all colleges and public universities.

Observers point to some barriers, including a potential social one like finding a suitable bridegroom for an educated girl from a rural poor family, that impede pursing studies beyond the secondary level. Facilities for girl students to stay in hostels in safe and secure environment could be an incentive for them to go to colleges away from their homes and not think of discontinuing studies. Vocational training for girls beyond the secondary level appears to be a good idea to attract them with the promise of employment or small businesses that could be run by them on their own. In this context, the recent Act passed in parliament, keeping provision for  marriage of under-age girls, is likely to act as a disincentive to girl's education, albeit indirectly.

 

 
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