scorecardresearch100% girl-child literacy a priority to build a $6 trillion economy

100% girl-child literacy a priority to build a $6 trillion economy

Updated: 09 Mar 2023, 07:05 PM IST
TL;DR.

As per NSSO data, the female literacy rate is still around 70 percent. Around 12.6 percent of students drop out of school in India, and 19.8 percent discontinue education at the secondary level.

To achieve inclusive economic growth, we need to equip everyone with the right education and skills.

To achieve inclusive economic growth, we need to equip everyone with the right education and skills.

India has become the fastest-growing large economy in the world despite the impacts of the pandemic, higher interest rates, and a global slowdown that has engulfed most of the developed world and bankrupted many in the developing world.

The Indian growth story is driven by domestic demand and inflation is under control compared to most countries. We are at a stage where we are ambitiously aiming to double our economy to $6 trillion by 2030.

However, the initial headway that we have achieved, helped by domestic demand from the growing middle class, will fizzle out, if the bottom of the pyramid, which is 60 percent of India's population, does not manage to onboard the economic fast train.

To achieve inclusive economic growth, we need to equip everyone with the right education and skills.

Since we have built a platform for massive growth, our focus needs to be on the education of the young population, particularly girls.

As per NSSO data, the female literacy rate is still around 70 percent. 

Around 12.6 percent of students drop out of school in India, and 19.8 percent discontinue education at the secondary level.

The number is significantly higher for girls as they get married early and in many communities educating girls is not even a priority and is seen as an unnecessary cost.

As per a UNICEF study, 1.8 million girls get married underage. The pandemic had accelerated dropout and underage marriages in many areas.

Girl child education should be the top priority for every Indian today because that is the way our nation will grow in an equitable and sustainable manner.

As per our experience of running 1200 girls’ schools and bringing 36,000 out-of-school girls into the education system - the moment a girl child finishes her 10th examination, her own chances and her family's chances of health and financial well-being increase significantly.

The woman can understand government welfare schemes better, conduct basic banking transactions, upskill herself, and mentor her own sister and children once she is married.

One of the best advantages of high school education is the delay in underage marriages, which not only allows the girl to have better financial opportunities but also helps her health and reduces infant mortality.

India is today in the most unique position; while we have women leaders excelling in almost all areas of life, we still have one of the highest illiterate female populations.

Even today, female literacy is abysmally low in rural areas and in many pockets of urban areas. The Right to Education Act and Sustainable Development Goal no 4 have both emphasized the importance of education and are well accepted by everyone.

In this Amrit Kaal, we need to put girl child literacy at par with defence, agriculture, health and other core national priorities as that will build the next prosperous century for India.

(The author of this article is the director of the IIFL Foundation)

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First Published: 09 Mar 2023, 07:05 PM IST