Rural India: What helps girls to stay in school?

21 October 2014
Anna McCormick

Priya Pillai is the Lead, Research Uptake and Corporate Partnerships in Karnataka Health Promotion Trust for STRIVE projects. In this blog she discusses the work of Samata, a research study and program, designed to support girls to delay marriage and avoid entry into sex work by continuing in high school.  As part of the program, project researchers have interviewed adolescent girls, their parents and their teachers to document the barriers and enabling factors affecting girls’ education in north Karnataka, India. 

They found:

  • Girls are expected to care for their younger siblings, do the household chores and often provide financial support through manual labour or sex work
  • Physical abuse by teachers or a poor quality of teaching discourages girls from attending school
  • Distance to schools make the commute too difficult or dangerous 
  • There is pressure on the girls to marry early 

Based on the findings, Samata have introduced a pilot intervention to address the individual girl as well as the wider society which includes specific measures aimed at overcoming barriers and strengthening enabling factors. These include:  

  • providing special tuition, career counselling and leadership training to improve girls’ academic success and broaden their aspirations
  • establishing reflection sessions for girls to share experiences and build solidarity and confidence
  • sensitizing parents to value girls and recognize the importance of educating them
  • linking families to government programs that provide incentives for educating girls
  • using sports to encourage boys to respect girls and appreciate their rights
  • training school management committees and school staff to institute measures to increase girls’ safety and academic success
  • supporting community structures to understand the importance of girls’ education and take action

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