EDUCATION AND WOMEN'S EQUALITY

THE ARGUMENT

Recommendations 1-62 deal with women's education. According to the NPERC, these recommendations are the guiding principles for the entire report. On the whole the NPE-86 has been endorsed and all-the recommendations primarily deal with logistic problems of implementation. The NPERC observes -" there is a gap between the policy statement and the POA, the education of the female half of the population receives only scattered references in the POA. The POA as a whole does not reflect a holistic treatment of women's education in all its aspects. " While the spirit of these recommendations are noteworthy, there is however a lack of appreciation of the problems involved in implementing most of the recommendations of NPERC, as most of them fall outside the purview of the Department of Education The NPE-86 recognizes that the constraints that have kept women outside the education process are outside the educational domain and if women are to meaningfully participate in the education process their economic and social position will have to undergo transformation. It also states very categorically that in spite of this, education may well be able to play a positive interventionist role in the empowerment of women. The observation of the NPERC -" The NPE seemingly construes education alone as an agent of basic change in the status of women " [Page 30, Para 4.1.6] ; clearly shows that the spirit in which the section Education for

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Women's Equality was written has not been appreciated by the NPERC, while the policy statement itself has been endorsed .

The main arguments given by the NPERC deal primarily with the following issues :

--Need for decentralized block/sub block level planning - Almost all the recommendations call for decentralized planning to ensure effective coordination between various arms of the government Thus the call is not only to decentralize educational planning but development planning itself The NPERC quotes the approach paper to the VIII plan as the guiding principles. This is a larger political and administrative question, and whether this will ensure effective implementation of NPE is a moot question. -- Need to address regional disparities and its impact of the status of women - While it is a widely acknowledged fact that the single most important factor that influences women's education is the status of women in society, it may not be possible for the education department to bring about far reaching changes in the status of women. Chapter IV of the NPE-86, recognizes this and also calls for an effort from the education sector to contribute its part in enabling women to fight for a more equitable society. The Mahila Samakhya project initiated by the Department of Education in 1989, has been inspired by the NPE-86, and tries to address the question of womens status by focusing on enhancing their self image and boosting their self confidence to enable them to participate meaningfully in both education and development.

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ANALYSIS OF RECOMMENDATIONS

Access to Water, Fuel and Fodder

[ Recommendation numbers 1 to 5 ]

This section primarily deals with the need to link access of fuel, fodder and drinking water with womens access to education and urges the Department of Education to coordinate with other concerned departments to ensure this. It also highlights the problem of access in remote areas, small habitations primarily in rural areas. The main thrust of this section is to introduce block and sub block level planning to ensure uniform access. It calls for a coordinated push with the active cooperation of other block/village level workers.

While the spirit behind these recommendations is noble it is not possible for the Education Department to take on the onus of ensuring fuel , fodder and water as a precondition for ensuring access to primary education . Similarly , questions of decentralized planning , ensuring adequate resources for such supports and special efforts to reach water/ fuel/fodder to remote areas , are outside the educational domain .

IT IS UNREALISTIC TO EXPECT THE EDUCATION SECTOR TO ENSURE AVAILABILITY OF FUEL , FODDER AND DRINKING WATER AND LINK IMPLE- MENTATION OF UPE TO IT . SIMULTANEOUS EFFORTS BY ALL SECTORS OF GOVT IS A DESIRABLE IDEAL. --CALL FOR BLOCK AND SUB BLOCK DEVELOPMENT PLANNING OUTSIDE THE PURVIEW OF EDUCATION SECTOR.

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Early Childhood Care and Education

[Recommendation numbers 6 to 12]

This section brings out the critical link between facilities and participation of girls in schooling . A ECCE program with priority on the 0-3 age group has been emphasized . The need to coordinate with ICDS has been stressed.

The NPE-86 devotes a major portion of the policy document and the POA to the question of providing ECCE facilities both as a first step towards preparing children for school and also as a necessary support to enable girls to attend school . As the Department of Women and Child is already implementing the iCDS program , it is only logical that the ECCE be coordinated by ;-hem . Thus , while the importance of ECCE is appreciated duplicating efforts and programs will in the long run be counterproductive .

The points raised about the need to synchronize the timings of the primary school and ECCE centers are ones of logistics and should be left to the concerned state governments . This is not a policy question , but one of effective coordination and implementation

The recommendation calling for the representation of workers and poor womens groups in Village Education Committees is again a point about details . The NPE-86 has also stressed on the need to have atleast 50% of VEC members should be women . Decisions regarding who will be these women has to be decided in the concerned states . For example in areas where the Mahila Samakhya project is running , the Mahila Samoohs will find

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a place in the VEC , while in another area it may be another group or functionary.

** IMPORTANCE OF ECCE AS A CRITICAL SUPPORT FOR PRIMARY EDUCATION HAS BEEN STRESSED BY NPE-86. CURRENTLY ICDS AND OTHER EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE PROGRAMS COORDINATED BY DEPARTMENT OF WOMEN AND CHILD. NEED TO AVOID OVERLAP IN DELIVERY OF ECCE WHILE THIS IS A MAJOR CONCERN OF THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT,WE NEED TO STRENGTHEN THE HANDS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF WOMEN AND CHILD IN THIS COMPONENT.

** SYNCHRONIZING TIMINGS, REPRESENTATION OF AANGANWADI WORKERS AND WOMEN'S GROUPS IN VEC IS A POINT OF DETAIL AND NOT A POLICY QUESTION. NEED TO CLEARLY DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN POLICY QUESTIONS AND LOGISTICS OF IMPLEMENTATION.

Regional Disparities

[Recommendation numbers 13 to 16]

Regional disparities especially on the status of women has been highlighted with special reference to region specific / habitation specific problems of access. These recommendations also call for decentralized planning.

Questions about decentralized planning have been discussed in India over the last four decades , and it is a larger administrative decision. While these issues are important and are of major concern to development planners it may not be possible for the Education policy to spearhead such a major change.

Recommendations regarding the need to prepare sub-block

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level profiles based on micro level information are again questions of details and not a policy directive. Such inputs are no doubt valuable. It is in this context that in the educational sector the NPE had stressed on micro-planning. However the scope of such micro-planning exercises had to be limited and cannot cover the entire gamut of social and development indicators.

Recommendations on the need to zero in on backward districts reiterates the policy commitment of NPE .


** QUESTIONS ON REGIONAL DISPARITIES AND NEED FOR BLOCK AND SUBBLOCK LEVEL PLANNING IS A LARGER DEVELOPMENTAL ISSUE . HOWEVER IN THE EDUCATION SECTOR THE NEED TO FOCUS ON EDUCATIONALLY BACKWARD STATES HAS BEEN STRESSED IN NPE-86

** IN ORDER TO SENSITIZE THE EDUCATION STRUCTURE TO REGION AND HABITATION SPECIFIC ISSUES NPE SUGGESTS MICRO PLANNING AND VEC . HOWEVER SUCH MICRO EDUCATIONAL PLANNING EXERCISES CANNOT COVER THE ENTIRE GAMUT OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS.


Content of Education and Gender bias

[Recommendation numbers 17-20]

This section is totally in tune with NPE-86 with one special mention of the need to strengthen science and maths teaching in girls schools to help girls move into non-traditional areas of study and occupation

RECOMMENDATION IN TUNE WITH NPE AND REITERATES THE NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO GENDER BIAS IN CONTENT OF EDUCATION.

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Role of the Media

[Recommendation numbers 21 to 27]

The need to gear the media to promote gender equality has been emphasized. The key recommendation here is the need to set up an inter ministerial committee to ensure the above .

This recommendation duplicates the functions of the Department of Women and Child, and therefore really outside the ambit of the Education department. The National Perspective Plan for Women of the Dept of W&C has also called for a similar body. However, the need to educate people to sent theirs girls to school, give them love, nutrition and health care has been the main theme of the message put out through the media by the Department of Women and Child. The year of the girl child was observed to educate people on these issues. While such recommendations are valuable, it is out of context, for in effect it will lead to duplication of work.


** WHILE THE RECOMMENDATIONS ARE IMPORTANT, THE DEPARTMENT OF WOMEN AND CHILD IS DOING A LOT OF VALUABLE WORK IN THIS FIELD AND THE NEED TO FOCUS ON THE GIRL CHILD FOR HEALTH, EDUCATION AND NUTRITION HAS BEEN THE MAIN THEME OF THE MEDIA MESSAGE BEING PUT OUT BY DEPARTMENT OF W AND C. THESE RECOMMENDATIONS ARE THUS NOT SPECIFIC TO EDUCATION POLICY ALONE.


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Vocational Education, Training of Teacher

[Recommendation numbers 28 to 40]

The recommendation in this section are also in tune with NPE-86 and they have been discussed at length in the sections on Education and Right to work [186-191], Community Polytechnics [222] and Teachers and students [277-302]. The recommendaions in this section are general in nature and does not have implication on policy.


** NO CHANGE PROPOSED FROM NPE - 86. ALL RECOMMENDATIONS REITERATE NPE 86 POLICY.


Research and Development of Women's Studies and Extension Services

[Recommendation numbers 41 to 48]

This section is in harmony with NPE-86 with a focus on developing a live link between Women's studies centers in universities like NCERT and university centres/departments for Women's studies.

The major recommendation in this section is to involve wom- en's studies centers in university in developing curriculum. Again this does not involve any policy changes, but primary one of involving these centers in the ongoing work of the NCERT and associated bodies.

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THE RECOMMENDATIONS ON ESTABLISHING WOMEN'S STUDIES CENTERS IN ACCORDANCE WITH NPR-86

RECOMMENDATION TO INVOLVE THESE CENTERS IN CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT AND GENDER SENSITIZATION ONE OF DETAILS. NO POLICY IMPLICATION .


Representation of Women in Educational Hierarchy

[Recommendations numbers 49 to 52

These recommendations focus on the need to increase the proportion of women at all levels and provide women teachers housing . it calls for gender sensitive administration .


** ALL THE ABOVE RECOMMENDATIONS ARE IN KEEPING WITH THE MAIN EMPHASIS OF NPE-86. NO CHANGE HAS BEEN PROPOSED THE NPE'S COMMITMENT TO WOMENS EDUCATION HAS BEEN FURTHER EMPHASIZED BY THE NPPW-88.


Empowerment of Women and Adult Education.

(Recommendation numbers 53 to 57 ]

This section primarily endorses the Mahila Samakhya approach which is a product of NPE-86 In pursuance of NPE the Mahila Samakhya project was launched in April 1989 in ten districts of Karnataka Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat . Over the last two and a half years the Mahila Samakhya project has been able to reach out to 1500 villages . The experience of this project has been a major learning, experience for educational planners. Women

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have been mobilized to collectively think about the social and economic problems being faced by them. The project has also been able to exert pressure on the education structure to be able to respond to the needs of women and children. The project has also actively participated in the Total Literacy campaigns initiated in adult education bureau. The Mahila Samakhya project and the adult education program have complemented each other. It is therefore unrealistic to look at Mahila Samakhya as a literacy strategy. This point has been eloborated in the Adult Education Section pertaining to Recommendation numbers 179 and 180

The recommendations of the NPERC has in fact reinforced the lessons of the project, which has been built on poor womens groups These recommendation again relate to details of implementation Therefore, no major policy guidelines have been provided .


** MAHILA SAMAKHYA PROJECT LAUNCHED IN PURSUANCE OF NPE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE NPERC RELATE TO DETAILS OF IMPLEMENTATION AND NOT POLICY DIRECTIVES .

** MAHILA SAMAKHYA AND ADULT EDUCATION COMPLEMENTARY. THEY REINFORCE EACH OTHER. MAHILA SAMAKHYA STRATEGY CANNOT SUBSTITUTE ADULT EDUCATION.


Resources and Management

[Recommendations numbers 58 to 62]

These recommendations primarily calls for translating policy commitments into resource allocation and effective

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management. As a significant departure from the overall genre of the review committee recommendations, it calls for continuing centrally sponsored schemes for girls and women in order to offset region specific gender biases and the status of women.

These recommendations call for special earmarking of funds for girls education , and compares it with Special Component plans There is a fundamental difference between SC/ST problems and the women's question. The problems of women's education cut across caste and regional barriers, even though it may be worse in backward regions and communities Thus earmarking funds along the pattern of Special Component plans is not administratively feasible or prudent


** CALL TO EARMARK FUNDS ALONG THE LINES OF SPECIAL COMPONENT PLAN NOT FEASIBLE AS THE PROBLEMS OF WOMEN ARE NOT COMPARABLE TO REGION OR GROUP SPECIFIC DISABILITIES. WOMENS QUESTION CUT ACROSS CASTES AND REGIONS. THEREFORE EARMARKED NONDIVERTABLE FUNDING MAY BE VERY DIFFICULT TO ADMINISTER . POLICY DIRECTIVES NEED TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION FEASIBILITY OF IMPLEMENTATION.


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DEVELOPMENT SINCE NPE

In pursuance of NPE-86 , a pilot project Mahila Samakhya was launched in ten districts of Karnataka , Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat in 1989 This project was inspired by the NPE section of Education For Women's Equality This project directly zeros in on the constraints that have prevented women and girls from participating in ongoing educational and developmental programs To date the project has been able to reach out to women in 1500 villages spread over 10 districts . Similarly , the Mahila Samakhya approach has been integrated into the approach being adopted in the Bihar Education Project and similar comprehensive Education For All projects under formulation for educa- tionally backward states.

A special cell to remove sexist bias in text books and to make educational material free of such biases especially in school books and school curriculum has been set up in the NCERT The Department for Womens Studies has since been actively involved in orienting teacher educators . They have also been able to make significant changes in text books and curriculum .

The National Perspective Plan for Women was formulated by the Department of Women and Child in 1988 . This policy endorsed the main thrust of the NPE especially Chapter IV - pertaining to

Education For Women's Equality
The section on education in the NPPW is based on NPE-86.

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ANNEXURE

RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE CABE CONFERENCE 8 AND 9 MARCH, 1991

The CABE focus on wide regional disparities in the status of women and their corresponding access to education. It noted that the single most important variable that influences women's education is their status in society. Thus, keeping in view the NPE thrust on the removing the constraints that have kept women out of educational and developmental activities, the CABE made the following recommendations

-- Serious efforts to understand region/caste/group specific problems of girls/women.

-- Need to evaluate all the special scheme operational over the last 40 years

-- Council to monitor women's education in each state.

-- Need for awareness generation programs to create a demand for education among women and girls and sensitize them towards the low status of women and especially the girl child.[Mahila Samakhya approach.]