Enhancing access to and quality of education for empowerment of women in marginalized coastal villages of Mahuva, Gujarat
Although primary school education is universal in India, access to secondary school varies across states and gender disparities exist at all levels of education as a result of the bias against the women in the workforce and the belief that educating females brings low returns. In Nicha Kotda, a remote village located on the coast of Saurashtra, Gujarat, the literacy and employment rates of women are 25% and 45% respectively, which is significantly lower than for men in the region. Following the completion of Grade 8, most of the children in Nicha Kotda village attend the nearest secondary school which is eight kilometers away in Kalsar village. However, nearly half of the girls drop out of grades 9 and 10 because of the lack of reliable and safe modes of transportation. The Kasturba Rural Foundation provided institutional support to establish a secondary school in Nicha Kotda. However, due to a lack of financial resources, the school had not been running regularly until Bharat Bhil, a local youth, took on the responsibility in 2016.
In summer 2017, several of our student researchers along with the two project co-ordinators spent several weeks with Mr. Bhil and visited his school on many occasions, where they had wonderful interactions with the students but also witnessed the school’s poor infrastructure and lack of supplies. Since then, we worked with Bharat to develop and submit a grant application to the Community Solidarity Fund of the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC), and in early 2019 we learned that the application was successful. Thanks to MCIC, the school will be able to purchase computers, textbooks and sports equipment and subsidize tuition for girls, with the overall goals of enhancing education opportunities for rural youth, reducing dropout rates of female students, reducing gender inequalities, and building long-term capacity in the local community.
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