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Covid-19 is unravelling years of progress in girls’ education

Today, nearly 89% of school-age children in India are out of school

Covid-19 is unravelling years of progress in girls’ education

Today, nearly 89% of school-age children in India are out of school

Covid-19 is unravelling years of progress in girls’ education

Today, nearly 89% of school-age children in India are out of school

Covid-19 is unravelling years of progress in girls’ education

Today, nearly 89% of school-age children in India are out of school

The coronavirus pandemic is more than a health crisis. It’s an education crisis too - one that could reverse India’s progress towards gender equality.

India still faces serious challenges when it comes to gender equality, and much of this goes back to the education gap between girls and boys. Traditionally, boys have been given priority in getting an education, while for girls it’s considered “optional” – in some communities, even undesirable.

But this has been gradually changing. India has made huge progress since independence, when the female literacy rate was only 9%. Today, it’s well over 65% and rising every year.

For the first time in Indian history, the percentage of girls enrolled at secondary school (75%) exceeds that of boys (73%). Fifty years ago, in 1970, only 14% of girls attended secondary school. We’ve come a long way. It spells hope for development in India overall, since countries with greater gender equality also fare better when it comes to social justice and economic prosperity.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a serious setback to progress, however: it is estimated that more than ten million girls in India could drop out of secondary school as a result. And dropping out of school puts them at a much greater risk of early marriage, poverty, and domestic violence.

 If we are to get through this crisis, we must address its impact on education – and girls’ education in particular – as well as tackling the virus itself.

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