The failed promise of Beti Bachao

A.GOKULAPADU/KURNOOL: “When we know that we will be made to [drop out from school and] sit at home, why will we bother to have a goal,” said C. Sashirekha, an 11th standard dropout, when asked about her aim in life.

“I wanted to be a doctor. Biology was my favourite subject,” said S.Muskaan (16), the topper of 2015 batch of Zilla Parishad High School of A. Gokulapadu village, about 15 kms from Kurnool.

Muskaan, like five of her classmates, had dropped out of school after 10th standard. Despite having supportive parents and a score of 7.3 grade points, she had chosen not to enroll for intermediate education in Kurnool.

S.Muskaan, the topper of 2016 batch, dropped out of school after 10th standard

The ZPHS, A.Gokulapadu supports classes upto 10th standard after which the villagers need to travel over 15 km to Kurnool city for higher education. Separated from the main road by a 3 km pucca road, the village has no bus service and relies on two-wheelers and erratic autos for transportation.

“It takes over one and a half hours to commute to and fro from Kurnool. To catch a bus, we need to walk 3 km to the main road. Sometimes we get autos, but that’s unreliable, especially in the evenings,” Muskaan added.

The issues with the long commute were further complicated when, in 2015, two intermediate students and an adult were drowned as they were crossing the narrow stretch of river between the village and the main road.

Sashirekha (18) says that since the incident, the already conservative parents are even more cautious in allowing girls to commute to Kurnool.

“Before this incident, 50 per cent of the girls graduating 10th used to be allowed to study further in Kurnool. Now it has decreased to about 25 per cent,” she said.

She is not wrong.

Of the seven girls who graduated from Gokulapadu’s Zilla Parishad High School in 2015, only two have gone for further studies. Of this, only one girl commutes from the village, while the other moved to the city.

A district level archery champion and kabbadi player, Muskaan said that she applied for scholarships to secure admission in a residency school in Kurnool, but was unsuccessful.

Muskaan's father (right) says that he wants to educate her, but cannot afford to pay the hefty school and hostel fees.

Her father said that he wanted to educate her, but “the school and hostel fees add up to over Rs.30000. Her mother and I are both daily wages workers. We can’t afford it.”

According to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’s Statistics for Andhra Pradesh, in 2013-14 the Class wise girls’ enrollment from 2012-13 for 10th standard is 507868, while that for 11th in 2014-15 is 20212.

Which means that only 1 in 25 girl students study beyond 10th standard.

The reasons for the dropout rates are not confined to lack of facilities. Muskaan’s classmate Habibunisa Begum (16) dropped out of school after 10th standard due to parental pressure. Her father, an RTC driver in Kurnool depot, does not allow his daughters to study beyond 10th.

Her two elder sisters too, despite securing good marks, had stopped studying after 10th.

Now, they study tailoring. The classes were provided under the Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) scheme until last year. Now they take private classes costing around Rs. 5000.

Habibunisa’s youngest sister Feroza Begum is in 7th standard now. The family agrees that of all the 4 sisters, she is the brightest.

Will you let Feroza study beyond 10th, I ask?

“No, their father will not allow it,” Dudekkula Kasimbi, Habibunisa’s mother said. “Besides,” she added, “when they [groom] come for marriage, they’ll not ask how much they have studied. They’ll see how proficient they are in Quran and if they know tailoring.”

Created By
Navmi Krishna


Medi Chaitanya and Navmi Krishna

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