Group President, Group Managing Director & Editor In Chief: Dr.Shelly Ahmed

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rural Higher Education and Women

By Samiya Anwar


If somebody questions me, what is the best gift I received from my parents? I would probably say education. Yup! Because education is the biggest asset one can have. And for women it is more important. It is education what makes a women stand in society with the male counterparts.

I was fortunate to go to school and college. But unfortunately not all parents send their daughters to obtain education. Not all women are equal footing with men still today after so much of development.

It is a grim reality that living in urban, we don’t acknowledge the life of rustic women. What we people do is, give names to the rural women, ‘Anpad’, ‘Jahil’ and ‘Gavaar’. They are also identified as ‘hick’. It means a person rose in a rural area, an unsophisticated person. They are not intelligible persons, they are parochial and narrow-minded.

This is all observed due to a wide disparity in the literacy of urban and rural women. The historical image of ‘housewife’ silently rules the countryside. The literacy rate among rural women remained less though several efforts have been made on part of the government to deal with this subject.

Nearly 70 per cent of the population lived in rural areas and most rural women were illiterate and not at all aware of their rights. The reason could be the age-old negative typecast rural population thinking. The rate of illiteracy is high in rural areas due to their thinking patterns.

In India, the literacy level is the highest compared to anywhere else in the world. The reason for the growth of literacy is because of the umpteen numbers of various types of Colleges and Universities offering different kinds of education in various fields. Reason that education is an instrument for the social advancement. And in particular if rural-women are educated the problems of like poverty, unemployment, child labor, female foeticide, and many more can be resolved to higher extent.

Every year the college door opens for a number of students. Our country has plenty of Colleges and Universities offering higher education opportunities. The enrollment of rural girls for higher education is not in large. More girls in rural areas discontinue education to either get marry or become support for families by earning daily wage at countryside. The Higher Education remains a daydream to many of them.

Like Sarla, a rural woman had to dropout from higher studies for marriage at the age of 17. She says, ‘If given a chance in future she would still like to continue studies and become a teacher’. Her father had a different opinion. He questions, ‘why should I send my daughter to college? She will be a housewife in the future I knew. Now I am happy that she is married at the right time. There is no need of Higher Education’.

It is not just the father of Sarla, many parents in rural areas think the same way. The degree college is regarded as waste-of-time by rural people. The years between eighteen-twenty one are most important time. These years get squandered in college they say. What is the need to send girls for Higher Education? The basic education already they have, stop now. Enough is enough!

But is it good to stop the girls from achieving knowledge which is for their good. Is college means not putting time to good use? Then why most women go for higher studies even in thirties and forties. What makes women crave for achieving degrees in vocation? What does college really does to a girl and his mind? It is important for them to understand what is good and what is better.

The Higher Education is good. The college is a place of education. We go to college to know, to understand how knowledge is helpful and powerful. It makes our mind. It prepares us as citizens of the world. It is the most important part of youth. The years of learning is often misconceived as the years of romance due to the love affairs and rising love in college. This could be one reason why parents don’t want to send their daughter for Higher Education.

However the gender factors restrict the women from higher education and job opportunities. It is a disheartening that the males think that if women continue to higher education, she will compete with them economically. Education makes women to question. If they are less educated, they won’t know the laws and they can easily suppress them. An educated female questions why this, why not those. The problem arises for men. So they deprive females from higher education.

Another strong consideration in girls’ unequal access to education in rural areas includes a lack of a safe means of transportation, poor security, and the lack of separate sanitation facilities. It is significant that already statistical investigation in this country and in England shows that the standard of health is higher among the women who hold college degrees than among any other equal number of the same age and class.

Sociological surveys indicate that those who desire for higher education but are unable to enter the institute as a full-time student can view part-time study as a matter of urgency. The other surveys have noted that those women who already have a reasonable general education are the group most likely to continue their studies part-time. After the age of 24 many rural women more likely than men continue studying

Over the past two decades the rural education for women has been very impressive. It cannot be denied that rural girls and young women are attracted with higher education as a good employment is brought through education. Indeed rural women, have a lot of spunk and enthusiasm to study.

Focus on Rural Women’s Higher Education
11th five-year plan lay more focus on higher education with reference to areas of rural areas, and backward classes and women folks. By the end of the plan there should be an increase in the percentage of each cohort going to higher education from the present 10% to 15%.

Recently the five-year integrated courses launched in different disciplines in the IITs affiliated to the university in the State. But unfortunately the responses came from urban students in large number although the courses were purely meant for rural students. It is unusual, but very true.

When the rural women don’t fail to admit themselves in colleges for higher studies the urban students have an overwhelming advantage over their rural counterparts to get high grades. Kavita K. says ‘we really don’t get an opportunity to continue our studies after SSC. Pursuing Higher Education remains a dream for most rural girls’.

Thanks to the establishment of Indian Institutes for Information Technology (IIIT) at Basar in Adilabad and Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies in state the rural girl students are able to fulfill the dreams of Higher Education. It is reported that the girls 8 out of 52 mandals made it to IIITs compared to boys.

The tides are truly changing. The attitudes of parents have changed even in rural areas. Now, with changing sensibilities, parental attitudes have shifted significantly. Like before they don’t force girls to marry and discontinue studies. But encourage the girls to study hard and get into IIITs. The communities have matured with time.

This is witnessed due to the cooperation of government. The IIITs doesn’t put burden on parents. The loans are available which can be paid only after getting jobs. Yet, there is also an exemption of fee for those students whose family income is below Rs. 1 lakh. The parents are happy to get the children in IIITs without much investment.

A well known fact it is that rural women are particularly vulnerable to poverty. They play a critical role in the rural economies of both developed and developing countries. So, Higher Education makes a significant contribution to the strengthening of democracy and administration of society.

Nevertheless ness it is really important to arouse rural women and help them to see their own advantages, to seek for opportunities and to become the subjects of development by seeking Higher Education. It is a better means at reducing poverty and utilizes knowledge for betterment of society. We need to give special attention to this problem.
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