At a time when everyone around the world is talking about women empowerment and education to girl child, more so in India, Odisha Govt really needs to look deeper and find out why more and more adolescent girls are dropping out of school.
Last week, based on a baseline survey, the department of Women and Child Development and Mission Shakti (WCD-MS) stated that nearly 56,000 girls, in the age group of 11-14, are out of school. The survey was done to trace out the number of beneficiaries to be included under the central government-sponsored Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG), which has been universalised in the state since 1 April 2018.
Of course, politicking and blame game has started over this finding where Badri Narayan Patra, the School and Mass Education Minister, claimed only 1,060 girls in the aforesaid age group were out of school till September 2017. His number comes from a survey done by the School and Mass education department. This gap between two Govt agencies is naturally very confusing, with one not knowing whom to believe and whom not to.
But the issue in all this conundrum of data should not get lost – the undeniable truth is that Odisha needs to worry as girls are dropping out. These girls will be forced into early marriage with many becoming labourers, becoming vulnerable to several type of abuses.
For any state, when girls are denied the basic right to education, can there be development or progress. We Indians worship devi or the goddess in various forms, taking care to not offend her. Why cant they see a Goddess in every girl?
Instead of fighting over a discrepancy in data, all government departments should rather come together to ensure the best coverage of policies and education schemes in Odisha, and offer these adolescent girls from marginalised communities, a chance at a risk-free, healthy life.