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Female Education in India

Nov 28, 2017
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“Education commences at the mother’s knee,
and every word spoken within the hearsay of little
children tends towards the formation of character.”
                                                                               (HoseaBallou)                                                                                                                
Female education in India is not a gift of modern civilization; we have brilliant tradition of it in our country. At least 20 women composed Rigvedic hymns. Gargi and Matreyi were the leading philosophers of the time. Women in the Vedic era so excelled in the sphere of education that even the deity of learning was conceived of as a female popularly known as ‘Saraswati’. Girls were allowed to enter in to Gurukuls along with boys. There are also instances of female ‘rishis’ such as Ghosa, Indrani, Urvashi etc. However, the status of women gradually declined during the post Vedic period. Child wives without education became the order of the day. The situation continued to decline till the coming of the British and the general national democratic awakening, which took place in India during the second half of the nineteenth century. The social reform movements which arose as a result of the interaction with the western civilization stressed on educating the women. The pioneering work of women’s education was done by such socio-religious reform bodies as Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna mission and also Danish, American, German and British missionary societies.

Jawahar Lal Nehru had once rightly said,

“Educate a man and you educate one person.
Educate a woman and you educate the whole family.”

Education, in reality, is the most valuable gift that parents can give to their daughter. If a girl is educated then she can also opt for a job if the need arises. So she would not be considered as a burden on the family. This would check the social evil of female foeticide. As an educated wife she would be interested in family planning as well. Studies have shown that illiterate women have high fertility and mortality rate. Many women prefer to have more children so that they could look after her in old age. But being educated she would certainly understand the advantages of a small family. Also being educated she would be able to participate in the day to day proceedings of the family. This would only add up one more voice and an opinion.
An educated mother would be more conscious about the health and hygiene of the family than her illiterate counterpart. Studies have proved that lack of education affects the general health of the family. Also infant mortality is inversely related to the educational level of the mother. For example, in Kerela female literacy ratio is highest (86%) and has lowest infant mortality rate with highest life expectancy. On the other hand in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where female literacy ratio is lowest, life expectancy is also lowest. Besides general health inculcating good moral values in her children would be one of the top priorities of any educated mother. In the long run, well brought up children are an asset which any society would love to possess. This is how the civilization moves.

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