Strategies to ensure equitable access
Including all learners and ensuring that each individual has an equal and personalized opportunity for educational progress is still a challenge in School education in Kerala. Despite commendable progress made over the past two decades to expand access to basic education, further efforts are needed to minimize barriers to learning and to ensure that all learners in schools experience a genuine inclusive environment.
Inclusion and equity are overarching principles that should guide all educational policies, plans and practices, rather than being the focus of a separate policy. These principles recognize that education is a human right and is the foundation for more equitable, inclusive and cohesive communities. Ensuring that all learners have access to quality education also acknowledges the intrinsic value of diversity and respect for human dignity (UNESCO, 2015a). In this way, differences come to be seen in a positive light as the stimulus for fostering learning among children, young people and adults, and for promoting gender equality. The principles of inclusion and equity are, then, not only about ensuring access to education, but also about having quality learning spaces and pedagogies that enable students to thrive, to understand their realities, and to work for a more just society.
Equity in education has two dimensions. The first is fairness, which basically means making sure that personal and social circumstances for example gender, socioeconomic status or ethnic origin should not be an obstacle to achieving educational potential. The second is inclusion, in other words ensuring a basic minimum standard of education for all for example that everyone should be able to read, write and do simple arithmetic. The two dimensions are closely intertwined: tackling school failure helps to overcome the effects of social deprivation which often causes school failure.
SSA acknowledges that reaching out to the girl child is central to the efforts to universalize elementary education. Universalizing elementary education of girls is not a major issue in the State. Keralas educational scenario shows that the State has successfully tackled the first generation problems like illiteracy, low girls enrolment in schools etc. Kerala has registered the highest female literacy rate of 92% in the country. The girls enrolment constituted 49.8% of total enrolment in the school education sector.
Though the enrolments of girl children are in par with the male children, the study and experiences show that life of girl children in the tribal areas and in socially backward communities are treated secondary to male children. Even in the urban life, boys and girls are treated differently in terms with freedom of opinion, action and interest. To resolve these issues the social and gender gaps in the society are to be bridged. SSA plans to initiate a number of measures to assure confidence, sense of security, physical and mental health along with quality education to girl children.
GET-UP (Girls Empowerment Training)
It is an innovative programme aimed at the comprehensive development of girl children in Upper Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary schools. As a part of this programme girls’ clubs will be established every schools. The entire programmes are to be done in a research mode.
Selecting 2 students from each class and from girls club. Girls from class 6 to 8 can form a junior club and students from Class 9 to 12 can be included in the senior club. The school club convenor is the teacher in charge of help desk and co-ordinator is the head of the institution. Secretary and President are girl student representatives. Ward member and PTA/SMC chairman and two mother PTA members are ex-officio members.
These clubs can organize focused group discussions, debates, poster competitions, thematic plays, workshops etc., identifying gaps in school activities vis-à-vis gender, and make recommendations on how to address these gaps. The Club can organize schools annual function on the theme of gender equality and women's empowerment and encourage students to sign up and express their support for gender justice and equality. They can organize exposure visits to various public service institutions at the village, block, district and city level (public health centers, hospitals, post offices, banks, police stations, block office to facilitate knowledge about gender issues as they affect diverse populations.