Conducted by M.V. Foundation, the study involved girls who are first generation education seekers in their families. It reported 74.2 per cent of girls saying education was not free even in government institutions, which did not charge for tuition but collected other fees that many students cannot afford.
The respondents said that they had to earn wages to support education. The data for the study was pooled from 20 colleges randomly selected from 2,141 colleges, both private and government, across the study excluding Hyderabad and Rangareddy districts.
“Fees other than tuition are collected from students and there is no regulation for such collection. Given that budgets for most colleges are inadequate and often does not arrive on time, the fees are used to run these institutions. It is indeed a difficult situation for students as reimbursement arrives only towards the end of the academic year,” said Shailaja Ramaiyer, Commissioner of Collegiate Education, Board of Intermediate Education, while acknowledging the study’s findings.
The study found that sexual abuse and eve teasing were major impediments to continuing education. Nearly 37.5 per cent of the respondents said they experienced sexual assaults at primary school level and 34.1 per cent reported experiencing sexual abuse at least once a week during second year of intermediate. Eve teasing had caused girls to drop out of college and many girls also regularly experienced gender and caste discrimination.
Additionally, the study also found low levels of sexual awareness among respondents. For instance, only 63.2 per cent of the girls did know if pregnancy can occur after kissing or hugging, while 90.5 per cent were unaware a woman can get pregnant during first instance of intercourse.
Mallepali Laxmaiah, convenor, Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika, recommended hostels for every education institution to facilitate higher education, as he observed family environment can vitiate education. The study reported most girls witnessing violence at home, usually perpetuated by an alcoholic father.
Besides calling for greater investments in government colleges and complete education, the study recommended free transportation facilities, inclusion of gender equality in school curriculum and campaigns to spread sexual awareness.
By: Rohit PS
Courtesy – The Hindu, India’s English Language Daily