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Indian state gives free bikes to girls who reach eighth grade with good attendance

Page history last edited by Rosemary 9 years, 11 months ago

Two Indian states are now encouraging girls to stay in school and study by giving them free bicycles when they reach a specific level of attendance and grade completion.

The program began in Bihar state in 2006, giving a free bicycle to girls who had an attendance record of 80% and had reached eighth grade. Since the program began, 871,000 girls have earned bikes from the state. The program has reduced the number of female school dropouts to around 1 million from 2.5 million, increased enrolment of girls threefold in four years, and created a situation where more girls than boys are in school and more women have been recruited as teachers than men.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar launched the program knowing that many young women gave up their education for marriage or because it is unsafe to travel long distances alone on public transport, reports WomensENews. A bicycle increases schoolgirls' mobility and the cost-free transportation to school reduces at least one major family expense in the impoverished state, where annual per capita income is around $300, well below the national average of around $800.

Anjani Kumar Singh, principal secretary in the Bihar education department, says the state has taken several initiatives to address its low female literacy rate, low enrollment of girls in school, and  high drop out rates. As well as free bicycles, the state has distributed free uniforms. In September 2009, Bihar state launched an ambitious Akshar Anchal campaign aimed at making 40 lakh illiterate women able to read and write (a lakh is equivalent to 100,000). A year later, the state said it had achieved that goal but continues to keep working on the program.

In 2011, the Orissa state government decided to give free bicycles to all girls studying in Class X in government and government-aided schools across the state, as well as to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe boys studying in these schools in the state’s scheduled areas.  The state government has also decided to provide free school uniforms to all boys up to Class VIII in the state’s scheduled areas where at present, only girls in these areas enjoy the facility. Similarly, till now, free bicycles had been given to SC/ST girls under the scheme launched in 2006-07.

The step is expected to push female literacy up in the state, which now stands at 50.51%. The state’s average literacy rate continues to stand at 63.08%.

 

Learn more about the Bihar program in India - Free Bicycles Help Keep Girls ini School by Saadia Azim, WeNews correspondent, March 6, 2011; about the Akshar Anchal program at Womens literacy scheme 'Akshar Anchal' to be launched on Aug 9 by the Indo-Asian News Service Aug. 7, 2009; 'Mukhyamantri Akshar Anchal' program launched; and Report - 40 Lakh Illiterate Women Now Literate in Bihar. Learn more about the Orissa program in Free bikes for girls in Orissa, by Subhashish Mohanty, datelind Bhubaneswar Jan. 4, 2011 and published by The Telegraph, Calcutta.

 

 

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