This project works with parents and communities to help girls complete their secondary education.
Education is an important foundation for health and success. In India, primary education is universally available, but many children, particularly girls, do not finish secondary school. Researchers estimate that less than one-third of Indian girls complete their secondary school education. This low graduation rate may be due to a lack of understanding among parents about the value of secondary education. Also, many parents are unaware of government support services and entitlements that can help girls receive an education.
In Gujarat state, Council researchers are working with girls and their parents, teachers, and communities to promote girls’ secondary education. Project researchers formed girls’ groups that taught girls to communicate and negotiate with their own parents and the parents of other girls.
The project also trained primary-school management committees to reach out to communities and parents to raise awareness about the economic and social benefits of secondary education for girls. It provided parents with the information and support that they need to overcome the bureaucratic and economic obstacles that prevent girls from pursuing secondary education. And, it employed an interactive voice-response system on mobile phones—which are common in the area—to improve communication between parents and teachers.
Some 1,500 girls—as well as their parents, teachers, and fellow citizens—participated in the program. The Council is evaluating the program using a randomized controlled trial design comparing girls in 45 participating villages to girls in 45 comparison villages.
The study will measure the impact of the program on girls’ secondary school attendance, math and language learning, and school completion. If the program is successful, the Council and its partners will explore expanding it to other areas.