A mission to fulfill girls’ aspiration
Gender inequality reinforces itself in education as it is factually proven that the rate of literacy for women is much lower than men in all censuses. To cope up the challenges ‘Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV)’ scheme was launched by Government of India (GOI) in July 2004 for setting up residential schools at upper primary level for girls belonging predominantly to the SC, ST, OBC and Minorities communities in difficult areas. The scheme ensures access and quality education to girls from disadvantaged communities.
Initially it ran as a separate scheme and was merged with SSA with effect from 1st April, 2007. KGBV has to be opened in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBB), previously defined on a composite criteria of blocks with a rural female literacy rate below the national average (46.13% : Census 2001) and gender gap in literacy higher than the national average (21.59% : Census 2001). The criteria of eligible blocks was revised with effect from 1st April, 2008 to include (i) EBBs with rural female literacy below 30%, and (ii) Towns/cities having minority concentration (as per the list identified by Ministry of Minority Affairs, GOI) with female rate below the national average (53.67% : Census 2001). In 2010-11, opening of KGBVs was extended to all EBBs with female literacy below the national average as per Census 2001. The scheme helped to mainstream the drop out girls in elementary education system. The KGBV addressed the educational needs of girls from marginalised and disadvantaged communities of the society. In India, a total 3609 KGBVs for class VI to VIII have been sanctioned in 27 States and 3UTs.
In 2009-10, “Girls Hostel” scheme was launched by GOI, under Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), to make secondary education (Class-IX to XII) of good quality accessible and affordable along with residential facilities to Girls in the age group of 14-18 years. Criteria for eligibility of Girls Hostels were also EB Blocks. This scheme has opened the door for class-VIII pass out girls from KGBV for their higher study with residential facility. All these Hostels have capacity of 100 girls.
As three existing centrally sponsored educational programmes, including Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE) have been unified under one umbrella ‘Samagra Shiksha’ in FY 2018-19, all sanctioned Girls Hostels become part and parcel of KGBV of concerned Educationally Backward Blocks and girls got opportunity to continue their study upto class-XII without any transition loss. The guidelines of SamagraShiksha reveals that all KGBVs(upto class VIII) will be upgraded up to secondary level i.e. class-XII in phased manner. Provision of four types of KGBVs has been done in SamagraShiksha and States have the option to choose them as per their convenience and need. These include KGBV Type-I (Class VI to VIII, capacity-100, budget- Rs 60 lakh), Type-II (Class VI to X, capacity 150, budget- Rs 80 lakh), Type-III (Class VI to XII, capacity-200, budget- Rs100 lakh) and Type-IV (Class IX to XII, capacity-100, budget- Rs25 Lakh). The Girls Hostels(constructed under RMSA), close to the existing KGBV buildings have been kept under Type-III, whereas Girls Hostels, which are far away from KGBV buildings, have been kept under Type-IV.
In the country, some KGBVs are full fledged schools, whereas some are only hostels attached to nearby existing middle schools. The girls enrolled in KGBV get all residential and educational facilities such as food, uniform, winter dress, books, stationery, daily use materials, sanitary napkins etc. They are being taught by subject teachers appointed/deputed in KGBVs. Capacity building of the wardens and account personals are done at State or District level for managerial & account work, whereas the teachers are oriented in the subjects concerned.
In addition to good quality subject teaching, extracurricular, skill development and other initiatives for personal, moral, physical development are undertaken to enhance the confidence level of the girls besides Vocational trainings such as Dress making, computer education, life skill, painting, music, vermin-compost preparation etc. are also conducted that provide scope for being “Atmanirbhar” after graduation from the Vidyalaya. Incursion tour for girls of KGBV is also organized for visiting historical, religious and important places of the states.
It is also pertinent to mention that the safety and Security of Girls, residing in the KGBVs, is of the prime concern and detailed guideline have been issued to KGBV management. CCTV cameras and Biometrics Attendance system have been installed and are being connected to monitoring offices through Internet networking. Group insurance coverage for the gils have been provided and no male member can access inside the KGBV hostels after 5.00 PM; and in the living area even during day time. Wardens and teachers are sensitized towards safety and security of girls and they stay with girls during night. Movement Registers are being maintained in all KGBVs, when girls are taken away by their guardians besides, monitoring of KGBVs are done by State, district & block levels educational functionaries and remedial measures are taken up. Besides this, regular health check-up of the girls is ensured through health centres and the health records of the girls are maintained. General insurance of inmates is also done through insurance agencies.
However, there are some bottlenecks in the smooth implementation of the scheme, which need to be resolved by Education Ministry, Government of India. Provision of lumpsum budget, within the ceiling, should be done for KGBV and the break-up of the activities and their unit costs should be planned by the concerned KGBVs and not at national level, as each KGBV has its own requirements. The cost for Furniture & equipment are part of estimate of building construction as a component, for which there should be a clear cut provision of 10 – 15% of the estimate and also there are financial constraints in the operation of KGBV Type-IV (class IX to XII), as it has unit cost of just Rs. 25 lakh as compared to Rs 60 lakh for Type-I (class VI to VIII), having same capacity (100 girls) and lower age group. It has been reported that Education Ministry is planning to enhance the unit cost @ Rs 40 lakh for KGBV Type-IV in further extension of SamagraShiksha scheme, but that must be at least Rs 60 lakh. (4) For KGBVs, where sufficient land is not available for its upgradation, there should be provision of budget for acquisition of land on the pattern of other central infrastructure schemes.
Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas have proved to be great boon as well as chance for out of school girls predominantly belonging to marginalized sections of the society and whose paths for education have come to an abrupt halt. This ambitious scheme helps all round and conductive growth of these girls and makes them responsible, self dependent as well as decision maker too. KGBV will open the door for success in various walks of life for the girls, which ultimately will nurture their future to new horizons.
(Author is a technocrat and academician.)