New Delhi: According to the latest data shared by the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), there has been a paradigm shift vis-a-vis girl child enrolment in the higher education fields. The report suggests an overall increase of 18 per cent in female enrolment in higher education from 2015-16 to 2019-2020. The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of females is also better at 27.3 per cent in comparison to that of males at 26.9 per cent. “The Gender Parity Index (GPI) in higher education in 2019-20 is 1.01 against 1.00 in 2018-19, indicating an improvement in the access to higher education for females of the eligible age group compared to males,” the report stated. It’s pertinent to note here that female enrolment in higher education, which was less than 10 percent of the total enrolment on the eve of Independence, has risen to 48.6 percent in 2018-19.
The Uttar Pradesh Model: More girls enrolled in commerce-related streams, gender gap reduces
The survey estimates that the total enrolment in higher education is at 38.5 million – 19.6 million boys and 18.9 million girls. In this, Uttar Pradesh has shown the highest student enrolment, followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. There is more good news. In UP, the number of female enrolment stood at 50.9 per cent versus 49.1 percent male students.
“It takes a concerted and holistic effort to reach where we have today. There has been a full-proof strategy in place and I am glad that it has all worked out in the end,” said Dr Dinesh Sharma, deputy chief minister and the education minister for Uttar Pradesh. Sharma tells you that it takes a focussed approach to achieve these numbers. “When the talk is about commerce and business stream, the ratio was skewed earlier. I would say, 90:10 favouring the boys but now we are at 40: 60, with more number of female students entering these courses,” he says.
What was the strategy?
According to the minister, it was an all-round approach which led to these numbers. “First, the MNCs functioning in the state have started giving out very attractive pay packages, so that students want to take up commerce courses in their UG or PG level. Second, the campus placements in most of our HEIs have been very target-oriented and successful. Third, focussed placements for our girl students have worked like magic to encourage more female enrolment in these business courses,” Sharma tells us.
The other big reason of this gender gap to reduce in the state is because UP has managed to retain most of its students and offer them employment opportunities within the state itself. “The Private Industries Act was a boon. It ensured that our students develop their skill-set within the state. They don’t have to go helter-skelter looking for jobs or to enhance their skills any more,” he says, beaming at the way the state has progressed over the last five years in the education sector. “We have 100 new degree colleges and three government universities coming up, we have set up 205 secondary schools too…,” he said.
Coming back to girl child enrolment and the skewed ratio finally being smashed, the minister said the government has more plans in the offing. “The pandemic has taught us a big lesson that we have to act and be prepared before it hits us again. In the education space, we have plans of coming up with professional degree courses to counter emergency situations. We will soon be offering students courses in the nursing and bio technology fields. I see these as being extremely beneficial to our female students,” Sharma said.
The NEP and UP: Progressive steps taken
The state has already rolled out some facets of the National Education Policy in the schools and the results are out there for every one to see. “Almost 70 per cent of our schools have started work on the Common Core Curriculum aspect of the NEP. There has been significant work on the model papers front as well,” he informs, adding that the biggest advantage that Uttar Pradesh had during the pandemic was their digital library. “While some states suffered from online education, we already had 70,000 lectures uploaded online in our digi libraries. These lectures were from teachers across all fields and were beneficial for students in the HEIs,” Sharma elaborates.
UP versus Rest Of India
While strides are being made with respect to female enrolments in STEM and business-related courses in higher education institutions all through the country, there is still a lot that needs to be done to ensure these enrolments are converted to sustainable jobs for women. According to Dr Sharma, we are getting there.
(Data by Malvika Agarwal)