Kashmir Valley Lags Behind Jammu Region In Female Education

20 November 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Sumit Hakhoo

Jammu: In spite of several Centrally sponsored schemes being implemented to improve the education scenario in Jammu and Kashmir, there is a clear 'regional divide' in the state when it comes to female literacy. The conservative social settings, conflict and lack of infrastructure in schools has led to failure of government plans to end gender inequality in education, a major point to improve the human index ratio. In the past over a decade, the literacyratio has improved, but dropout rate of girls at the primary, secondary and higher secondary levels in the state is still a challenge for the government. There is lack of awareness in rural areas regarding benefits of educating the girl child. A majority of districts in Kashmir are lagging behind Jammu region when it comes to female education. In Ladakhdivision, the figure has vastly improved in thelast 30 years. Jammu has highest female literacy at 77.41 per cent, followed by Samba at 74 per cent and Kathua at 64 per cent. The worst figures are in Ramban, where female literacy is 40 per cent. In the Kashmir valley, female literacy figure stands at 63 per cent in Srinagar. The lowest figure of 46 per cent is in Budgam and Bandipora districts while Ganderbal, the home constituency of two former Chief Ministers, has a poor figure of 47 per cent. Experts say the dropout rate is mainly dependent on access to education, distance from home and the educational profileof parents. In case of the Kashmir valley, theconflict since 1990 has further pushed girls away from schools. 'We need to change the mindset of people about the need to educate their daughters. Our government is trying to improve infrastructure and create conditions so that the percentage improves. A long-term solution is to create awareness among masses about the importance of educated women inshaping society,' said Minister for Education Naeem Akhter. Although successive governments have always shifted blame on parents for showing reservations about admitting their female wards in institutions, the failure ofthe state government to construct new girls' schools and improving infrastructure in existing ones is an important factor affecting enrolment and dropout rate. 'At times, if the girl is not good in studies, parents prefer to involve her in household chores rather than sending her to school. I have seen cases of people preferring to spend on son's education rather than on daughter's due to financial problems,' said Kalpana Tikku, founder of the non-government organisation Arnimaal. Tikku has worked extensively in Kashmir during the period of militancy. As per the 2011 census, Jammu and Kashmir has over 72.45 lakh (78.26 per cent) literate persons. There are 43.70 lakh male and 28.74 lakh female (58 per cent) literate persons. The total literacy is 68.74 per cent. In overall literacy, Jammu tops with 83.98 per cent, followed by Samba at 81.08 per cent. Ramban and Bandipora districts have the lowest literacy rate in the state.