On the eve of International Women’s Day, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), in partnership with the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, launched a landmark campaign Kanya Shikhsa Pravesh Utsav to bring back out of school adolescentgirls in India to the formal education and/or skilling system, here today. The event was graced by theUnion Minister for Women and Child Development Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of State, MoWCD, DrMahendrabhaiMunjpara,and Minister of State, Ministry of Education (MoE) Smt. Annpurna Devi. The National and State Secretaries from MoWCD, MoE and representatives from across the country were also present. Furthermore, Anganwadi workers and adolescent girls from different parts of the countryjoined the event, and many moreparticipated virtually.This included the participation of adolescent girls who shared their experiences about being reintegrated to school.
The campaign has been launched with the objective of enhancing enrolment and retention of girls between 11-14 years of age in school. The initiative intends to build on the existing schemes and programmes like Schemes for Adolescent Girls (SAG),BetiBachaoBetiPadhao (BBBP) and National Education Policy (NEP) to work on a comprehensive system for out of school girls.The campaign willbe rolled out under the umbrella of MoWCD’sBBBP initiativeby targeting more than 400,000 out of school adolescent girls as primary beneficiaries.
Emphasizing onthe Government of India’s commitment to the education of girl children, the Union Minister Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani remarked that the government fully acknowledges the need to work with women and girls and commits to make sustained investment in health, education, protection, skill building including financialliteracy,while empowering young women and girls, and promoting gender-equitable attitudes and practices among India’s children and youth.
Explaining the programme, ShriIndevar Pandey, Secretary,MoWCD announced that over 400 districtsacross all states will be funded under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme for outreach and awareness generation at grassroot level to sensitize communities and families to enrol adolescent girls in schools, over and above the funding from Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan and the Anganwadi workers (AWWs) will be further incentivised for counselling and referring out of school adolescent girls. He also emphasised the importance of collaborative efforts between MoWCD and MoE for identifying the beneficiaries and appropriate enrolment into formal schooling or vocational training programmes.
The Secretary of Department of School Education and Literacy,MoE, Smt. Anita Karwal shared comprehensive initiatives implemented under the Department that can be availed by adolescent girls, and the aim for ensuring integrated education services to create an inclusive environment and infrastructure for education.
The programme aims for a convergent approach between MoWCD and MoE with close partnership of international organisations. Stressing this,the Minister of State, MoE, Smt. Annpurna Devisaid, “It has been crucial for Ministry of Education to prioritize girls’ enrolment in the past years but in the light of the last two years of pandemic, it becomes imperative to join our efforts and systemically leverage support for girls’ enrolment and retention in school, with a focus on supporting girls transitioning into secondary education and completion”.
Minister of State, MoWCD, Dr.Mahendra bhai Munjparailluminated on several schemes for upliftment of girls in India. Schematic interventions such as BetiBachaoBetiPadhao which was launched in 2015 for overall goal of celebrating girl child and enabling education, Scheme for Adolescent Girls which focuses on reintegration of girls to formal schooling or skill building in order to enable employability, and Saksham Anaganwadi and Poshan 2.0’s support to ensure schooling, skilling and safety.
Mr. Yasumasa Kimura, Deputy Representative, UNICEF India underlinedthe importance to such programmes, “Education for girls not only fulfils their right to learning and finding better opportunities in life and work, but it also contributes to building thriving and resilient societies that give all people – including boys and men – the opportunity to realize their full potential as individual and citizens of the world”.
The resounding support of the State Secretaries and the entire Integrated Child Development Scheme(ICDS) workforce of the country has showed great promise on the execution and implementation of the programme. Thiscoupled with presence of adolescent girlsin the event, who shared heart-warming stories of their resilience and courage on getting back to school.As Shreya a determinedadolescent girl from Delhi puts it “My dream is to be an investigating officer. I am doing my small bit to ensure I continue to study and in small ways, reimagine my future and fulfil my dreams.”
All the attendees participated in taking a collective pledge as recited by the Union WCD Minister Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani forKanya Shiksha Pravesh Utsavand the event concluded with all dignitaries signing the wall of pledge ‘Sankalp kiDeewar’on this auspicious eve of International Women’s Daytomark the occasion as a promise that no girl is deprivedof formal education or vocation.