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Reasons for low female literacy rate in India| Causes for low literacy among women in India

What are causes for low literacy among women in India ?


Women education is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. No single factor or cause can be held responsible for very low literacy rate of women in India. Subsequently it is associated with combination of many factors including social, cultural, economic educational, demographic, political, administrative and so on. The following are the some of the important factors which could be attributed for the present poor State of affairs of womenfolk in education:

1. The Low Enrolment : The low enrolment of girls in schools is one of the foundational factors which stand as stumbling block for women empowerment in India Reliable sources indicate that more than 50% of the Non-Starters (those who have never been to school) are girls.


According to the latest statistics, two out of every ten girls in the age group of 6-11 are still not enrolled in the schools

2. Higher Drop-out Rate among Girls from Schools : The incidence and prevalence of drop-outs among girls specially in rural, tribal and slum areas seem to be quite high.

According to available sources, occurrence of drop-outs and stagnation amongst girls is nearly twice that of boys all over India.

3. Girl Child as Second Mother : In many families girl children play the role of second mother by shouldering the responsibilities of household work such as looking after the sibling, fetching water, collecting firewood, bringing fodder for cattle, cleaning and cooking, etc.

In rural India especially in poor families this traditional sex role makes girl child handicapped and conditioned by the attitude of mother and the family and discourages the girl child from going to school.

4. Bonded Labour System : This social evil is a quite discouraging phenomena which stands as barrier for girl's education in rural areas for the underprivileged families of washer men and agricultural labour, scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.

5. Caste System as a Barrier: Children belonging to low caste families are forced to learn skills and work. They are not encouraged to go to school due to various factors.


They face threat from high caste communities for their selfish motives of keeping them as domestic servants and child labourers in the farms or factory

6. Dowry System : Dowry system and other social practices act as main causes of the neglect of the girl child and discrimination against girl child including the deprivation of right of education. The poor and the down-trodden think that if their daughters get higher education they will have to give more dowry at the time of marriage. So, they prefer to withdraw their children with average education and never send for higher education.

7. Child Labour Practice : A large segment of child population in India is engaged in child labour practices. According to UN sources, India is the most child labour populous nation in the globe with more than 50 million child labourers indulged in beedi works, carpet making, bricks, domestic works, construction, etc. In most of these industries girl children are preferred for high productivity and low cost.


8. Poor School Environment for Girls: In general the school environment for girls in India is not really encouraging. The subjects taught in the schools are also not related to the environment of girl children. The methods of teaching are mostly out-dated, rigid and uninteresting. There are still hundreds of schools with poor basic amenities such as drinking water, latrine and toilet facilities, improper building and inadequate number of teachers, especially female teachers.

9. Female Age at Marriage : There is high association of female literacy with female age at marriage. By and large, the female age of marriage of 18 (recently 21 years) as prescribed by various legislations are not at all followed in India. It is very much ignored and neglected by the families of parents with little or no literacy background. This practice discourages female children to continue their schooling and higher education.

10. Inferiority, Subservience and Domesticity: The female child in Indian culture specially in rural, tribal and poor families often develops the qualities of inferiority, subservience and domesticity which place sever limitations on her education and development.


11. Poverty as Barrier : In many poverty stricken families, children especially the girls are considered as economic assets as they bring income for livelihood as helping kinds to the poor parents.

12. Ineffective Law Enforcing Machinery : Indian constitution and various legislations pertaining to education of children assure free and compulsory education for all children of the nation, Unfortunately the enforcement machinery fails to discharge its duties and responsibilities to the satisfaction and welfare of women.

13. Demographic Factors : The high population growth rate, rapid urbanisation migration, etc. also attribute immensely for the poor literacy level of women and girls in India.

14. Poor Political Will and Conviction : Government officials, policy makers, politicians, etc. of our country have neither political will nor conviction for the empowerment of women in general.



The following measures can be considered for bringing phenomenal change in the plight of women's education and their empowerment in India:

1. Efforts must be initiated jointly by the government, parents and civil society to achieve universal enrolment for girls without any compromise. The enrolment can be made even mandatory for every girl by the government in the realm of compulsory education

2. The Ministry of Education both at the Centre and State level should work out strategic steps to stop firmly the ongoing high drop-outs among girls especially in rural, tribal and slum areas. There can be serious involvement of voluntary organisations in every locality to realise zero drop-out among girls.

3. The poverty stricken families can be identified through proper research.

Necessary poverty alleviation services be provided to strengthen the income thereby to enable the families to send their children to schools and colleges without much financial difficulties.


4. Bonded child, labour and child labour practice must be abolished with strict administrative measures. The relieved children from bondage should be integrated into schools with suitable defence social mechanism.

5. Appropriate steps should be taken by the educational authorities with the participation of communities in order to bring the girl children to the main stream of education and development at every level including family and community.

6. The female child in every Indian family irrespective of socio-economic status should be moulded to overcome the challenges of inferiority, etc. which place sever limitations on her education and development. Every family irrespective of its socio-cultural and economic background can take it a challenge to bring up their girl children as dignified humans being with empowerment in physical, mental, economic and social dimensions of life


7. The Mid-day meal scheme and other educational supportive services like free text-books, note-books, free uniforms, free bicycles, scholarships. Free bus pass and so on, as is done in the State of Tamil Nadu, can be provided in all States and union territories to lift up the literacy level of girls.

8. A social evils like dowry, child marriage, caste system and other practices deprive rights of education for children belonging to poor and underprivileged families and communities, they should be eliminated through well-designed packages of mass awareness programmes and social welfare measures with full support of public, political parties, NGOs and government agencies

9. The electronic and print media can play significant role in building a good and positive image about girls and women in general in the society as an object. This would help in changing the society's attitudes towards girls and their roles to treat every girl on woman as human being with self respect and dignity


10. Government, voluntary sector and philanthropic organisations and individuals should come forward to provide free education to poor girls and provide free hostel facilities for girls studying in schools and colleges in every State of India. This will certainly encourage children of poor families to pursue good and higher education without any financial problems.

11. The schools of social work, departments of women studies, women universities and other educational institutions along with NGOs and social service organisations such as Rotary Clubs, Lions.Clubs, women organisations/associations can work together to improve the educational status of the womenfolk in this country on mutual respect and understanding

12. The parents of children belonging to poor, underprivileged families must be specially educated with proper social formula to help them to understand the significance of education for their girl children as foundation for empowerment

13. Government, NGOs and public should work hand in hand to implement the minimum age marriage (21 and above). Awareness should be created to institutionalise it as a traditional practice cutting, across castes, religions, community, etc.


14. Government officials, policy makers, political parties and others should have adequate political will and conviction to empower women in India without double standard mind

15. The law enforcing machinery should be made really effective with efficient monitoring vigilant system to implement the constitutional and legislative provisions and administrative measures to assure free and compulsory education for all children of the country without any gender discrimination.

Importance of Women's Education in India