Over 70,000 teen girls dropped out of school in just 3 UP districts

Agra: At a time when the central government is promoting ‘Beti bachao beti padhao’ across the country, in Uttar Pradesh, several districts have reported massive numbers of teenaged girl dropouts from schools, with more than 70,000 from just three western UP districts.
According to a recent survey conducted by Bal Vikas Seva Evam Pushtahar (Integrated Child Development and Nutrition Scheme or ICDS), in Etah, 9,368 girls between the ages of 11 and 18 have been deprived of education, as they had either dropped out of school or never attended one.
In Mainpuri, the figure was a massive 50,550 for teenage girls’ in Mathura 16,541. According to sources, there are nearly 12,000 such dropouts in Agra and 13,400 in Firozabad. Sources added that the figure for the entire state stood at several lakhs. However, Lucknow headquarters of ICDS refused to share the number of dropouts, claiming there were discrepancies in the data.
A senior official in the planning section of ICDS said, “Since Anganwadi workers collected data of teenage girls based on EPIC (electors’ photo identity card) number of voter ID cards issued to their fathers, the data for teenage girls cannot be accurate. The survey will be done again, to cover all the girls not going to schools or are dropouts.”
An acting district program officer of ICDS said, “Our primary job is to provide iron folic tablets to children, teenagers, pregnant women and lactating mothers. However, this year in April, for the first time we also collected data of girls who were deprived of education, so that they can be covered in Kishore Shakti Yojana. Our aim is to make these uneducated girls skilled, so they can at least earn money or take care of their family once they cross the age of 18 years. These girls will be taught embroidery, cooking and other things.”
R. P. Sharma, deputy joint director of secondary education for Agra division, told TOI, “The reason is the gender gap. Parents don’t allow girls to attend school. Also, in rural areas, girls are saddled with household responsibilities such as taking care of younger siblings.”

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