“In our society and village, girls aren’t encouraged to study. That is why I started this convent”, shares Raeesa Begum, Founder of National English School in Kalgaon, Maharashtra.
This English school opened doors of education to the young girls in the village who had very limited opportunities for education in 2006. The founder recalls that education was free then. But after registration in 2008, they had to rent a space and hence had to raise donations. The parents of the children admitted in the school are very happy with the progress of their kids and some of them do not mind paying Rs5000-10,000 as donation due to the good quality of education and the convenience of getting to meet their children in the school nearby. However, Community Correspondent Kalpana Jawade wants the administration to take notice of this school and provide necessary resources to help the school continue its exemplary services to the poor children of the village.
Prime Minister’s 15 point programme for welfare of minorities announced in 2006 emphasises on enhancing opportunities for education, especially for minority girl students. Despite such measures taken by the State and Central government to ensure better opportunities, their educational status still remains a burning matter of concern. The issue is further aggravated when viewed in the larger context of the fact that India’s population is expected to become the world’s youngest with more than 500 million under 25 years of age by 2020.
This means that we have no time to lose to take strict measures in order to empower the growing number of youth with proper education and other competent skills. But the findings of the ‘State of the Urban Youth, India 2012: Employment, Livelihood, Skills’, a report published by UN-HABITAT shows that “A person in an urban area has a 93 percent greater chance of acquiring training than someone in a rural area”.
Reports such as this show that the unequal access to opportunities between rural and urban youth and the lack of emphasis on education, especially for young girls and minority students in India still remain unresolved and have to be solved at the earliest if we want to harness our peaking demographic dividend.