1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Gender and Development, Social Policy and Development

Secondary Education in the Indian State of Utar Pradesh: Gender Dimensions of State Policy and Practice (Draft)



A central proposition of this paper is that the focus on minimum ‘thresholds’ for public investment, in turn derived from the analysis of rates of return to education has contributed to the neglect of female post-primary education. Influenced by Human Capital theory (HCT), ‘gender’ and female education have been central framing discourses of education policy, resulting in substantial policy rhetoric and concern about women’s and girls’ education as a lever of development and progress. In India, acceptance of this global rhetoric has been mediated by particular policy choices, which have resulted in the neglect of the secondary sector, the rise of for-profit schooling at all levels of education, and a fragmented formal elementary education system, with particular implications for achieving gender parity and equality. This has resulted in a range of issues relating to female well-being being erased from the policy map. Girls disappear off the formal education policy agenda past the age of 14, at a crucial age when aspirations can be channelled into opportunities. In this paper, Jha and Subrahmanian focus on secondary schooling, which the authors believe best serves the interests of girls, especially if supported by policies that expand its availability, address socio-cultural constraints that exclude girls (both within society and within the school), and keep its costs low. The authors argue that the lack of policy focus on secondary schooling for girls is linked to the curious contradictions between policy rhetoric, on the one hand, and policy prescriptions on the other, where development visions are not matched by policy decision making processes that can realise these visions.