Conference Report: State Conference on Keeping Girls in Secondary School: Successes and Challenges

Conference Report State conference on Keeping Girls in Secondary School Successes and Challenges.pdf

STRIVE partner Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT) organised a state level conference Keeping Girls in Secondary School: Successes and Challenges to address the issues of retention, quality and equity in girls’ secondary education and rally support for KHPT-STRIVE’s Samata project.

Samata Conference report

A comprehensive account of the event in Dharwad, Karnataka, 20–21 June 2015, the report contains:

  • sessions from Day One and Day Two
  • quotes from speeches
  • photos from the two-day event
  • recommendations on girls’ education
  • annexes of the conference invitation, speaker bios, photo exhibits and the conference schedule

The conference offered government officials, practitioners, field and project workers, and community members the opportunity to share experiences, achievements and concerns. Experts from the fields of education and youth and girls’ empowerment spoke at the different panels on barriers and enablers to girls’ education. The presentations covered a comprehensive range of topics such as:

  • gender and social norms
  • child/early marriage
  • school infrastructure and systems
  • quality and curriculum concerns
  • interventions with stakeholders to ensure that girls completed their secondary schooling

Participants questioned whether the education system is truly egalitarian, inclusive and accessible; emphasised the need for interdepartmental convergence; stressed the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships to realise the goal of universal adolescent girls’ education; and highlighted the need for priority budget allocations to northern Karnataka as the development parameters rank among the worst in the country.

Adolescent girls’ development was noted as a priority area cutting across sectors. Efforts to combat child labour and marriage should be combined with measures to improve water, sanitation and hygiene practices in schools, reaching out-of-school girls and better delivery of education and health services.


Interventions to improve adolescent girls’ education must be guided by policies, implemented at the school and community levels and enforced by law. Recommended action:

  1. Design a multilevel and multi-stakeholder response
  2. Implement norm change interventions
  3. Create girl friendly and safe schools
  4. Provide gender and comprehensive sexuality education in schools
  5. Increase the compulsory age of education under the Right to Education (RTE) Act
  6. Improve convergence, coordination and linkage between various sectoral programmes
  7. Allocate higher capital investment in education to northern Karnataka
  8. Build partnerships with non-governmental organisations working on adolescent girls’ issues
  9. Revitalise existing platforms for children’s participation in governance
  10. Revive and invest in successful programmes such as Kishori Sanghas and Meena

A new alliance born at the conference united a number of participants in an advocacy group to further the cause of adolescent girls’ education. Political leaders across the parties agreed to follow up on the recommendations that emerged from the conference. The alliance will provide technical inputs to the government on measures to improve the secondary education of girls.

The report includes a collection of photographs from the event.


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