It is extremely sad that with an increased focus to girls’ education the Indian government is not only neglecting our boys but also creating huge barriers to their education through various gender-biased policies. The institutional bias is so much that boys are forced to leave education early in their life as the govt. data shows and the govt. keeps bringing new policies to favor girls’ education.
Boys Pay Up to 33% More Fees
Data published in the latest NSSO survey, shows boys pay up to 33% more education. Boys pay a premium for the same level of education compared to any girl student both in rural and in urban areas. The article below gives the details of the bias in education fees at different levels –
But the bias in education fees is the least bias that actually exists. Indian government creates several other barriers to boys’ education that forces the boys to leave education as the data shows.
Decreasing Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) for Boys
A report published by MHRD (Educational Statistics at a glance, 2016) shows that the Gross Enrollment Ratio of boys is decreasing at a rapid rate compared to that of the girls. It is found that GER in Primary, Upper Primary, and Higher Secondary education is more for girls compared to boys. In primary education, the GER is decreasing at a rapid rate since 2010-11, since when the GER of girls has become higher compared to that of boys.
At this juncture, let’s understand what Gross Enrollment Ratio or GER is. UNESCO defined GER as –
“the total enrolment within a country “in a specific level of education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the population in the official age group corresponding to this level of education”.
For instance, India considers Primary education as education between Class I-V and in the age group of 6-10 years. However, there may be students of other age groups studying in those classes due to various reasons (e.g. late enrollment, failure to get a promotion to the next class etc.). So, to calculate Gross Enrollment Ratio we will calculate like this –
GER in primary education = Total # students studying in primary education/# of children in that age group in the population
So, GER can be more than 100%. For instance, in 2015-16, GER of girls in Primary education was 100.7. That means, there were 100.7% girls in Primary education in 2015-16 compared to the population of girls. That, in turn, means girls of age groups other than 6-10 years might be studying in primary sections.
A GER of less than 100%, however, means that not all available children in that age-group are enrolled yet. For instance, for the same year (2015-16) the GER in Primary Education for boys was only 97.9%. That shows that not all available boys were enrolled for education.
If we see the trend shown in the report since independence, we will find a shocking gender bias there –
We find a falling trend in GER in Primary education, and also find that there is a reversing trend in 2010-11 when girls’ GER became higher compared to boys.
Even in Upper Primary education, we find GER for boys getting lowered from 2011-12 onwards and remained lower than the girls ever since. In fact, the increasing gap between the two lines suggests that boys GER is falling further and the GER for girls is increasing.
In Higher Secondary education, even though there is some parity but the GER of both sexes has come down in recent times.
From the above discussion of Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER), we find that overall boys are hugely discriminated against at the primary and upper primary level.
Gender Parity Index (GPI)
But the understanding of GER alone is not enough to understand this gender bias. We need to understand another important parameter called the Gender Parity Index (GPI). The Gender Parity Index (GPI) is a socioeconomic index usually designed to measure the relative access to education of males and females. This index is released by UNESCO. In its simplest form, it is calculated as the quotient of the number of females by the number of males enrolled in a given stage of education (primary, secondary, etc.). It is used by international organizations, particularly in measuring the progress of developing countries.
As the data from the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) shows, in almost all levels the GPI has already attained more than 1.
So, as we see that barring higher education, in all levels the GPI has already reached >=1. That means the enrollment of girls has become either more than boys or at least equal to them. This shows that there exists a bias in the education sector that has reversed the education enrollment. The increasing trend of these graphs also shows that GPI has an increasing trend which means boys are increasingly barred from education.
GPI Since Independence
A study of gender parity index since independence shows the following trend –
We see that in recent years, under ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ enrollment of girls in levels up to class XII has significantly increased. This is concerning because as per census, the number of girls at any age level is supposed to be less compared to that of the boys. This clearly shows how boys are discriminated against in education.
Reasons for Drop-Out/Discontinuance
Before we find out the reasons for children dropping out of education we need to understand the meaning of two different terms – drop-out and discontinuance.
Persons, who did not enroll in a particular level, after completing the previous level, are termed as discontinued whereas those who enrolled/attended a specific level but did not complete that level successfully are called drop-outs.
The 71st NSS report gives us the reasons for never enrollment and dropping out/discontinuing education for the two genders –
In the two above tables, table 1 gives the reasons for never enrollment and table 2 gives the reasons for dropping out and discontinuing education. The cells marked in Blue shows the prominent reasons why boys drop out and those marked in pink shows reasons when girls drop out more.
If you carefully look at the reasons highlighted in pink, you will find that govt has already taken care of those areas by introducing different measures. For instance, If girls drop-out because of the distance of the school, govt has given them cycles. When girls drop-out because of domestic duties there are govt sensitization programs like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao to sensitize parents to send their daughters to schools. In fact, other reasons, that include facilities like girls’ toilet etc. is also promoted through various means.
On the contrary, if you look at the reasons why boys drop out more, you will find that there exists no government help program for boys. For instance, when more boys drop-out from education because of financial constraints, they continue to pay higher fees and that leads to more drop out. More boys are engaged in economic activities and there is no economic benefit given to the boys for education.
If we look at girls’ being taken out from education due to domestic duties or marriage is not so cruel on them compared to subjecting our boys to economic activities which are often very hard.
This study shows that the existing govt. data already shows a huge bias in education against male children. On top of it govt. introduced policies like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao to introduce an even more biased approach to boys’ education. The reasons for which boys drop-out/discontinue from education are not addressed, rather by making them pay higher fees, govt is further discouraging boys from continuing education. This is a clear propagation of hatred against our boys and this hatred is continuously increasingly under several biased policies. As a result, we see direct effect in falling Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) for boys. Even though a clear disparity exists, no one seems to bother.