More than news & views - A complete source for South Asians

APRIL 2002





By Dr. Harnek S. Kaile



Long, long ago, a woman was considered just a toy in the hands of man. She had no public life and remained within the four walls of the house.

With the change of times, voices began to be raised in her favour. The first such voice was Guru Nanak Dev's, "So kyon manda akhyae, jit jammeh rajan?" (why should she, who gives birth to emperors, be called bad?)

In the beginning of the British regime, education of girls was almost nil. In 1901, only 1% students were girls. Later, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chander Vidyasagar, Bal Ganga Dhar Tilak and Swami Daya Nand strongly supported the cause of women education. Separate schools for girls were opened and, in 1916, a Women University was established in Bombay. But, on the whole, the position of education of women remained unsatisfactory.

When India attained independence, women were given equal rights with men. In 1952-53, the Secondary Education Commission did not devote a separate chapter to women education, perhaps because its members thought that women had already got equal rights with men. In 1959, a committee for their education was formed and some other steps were  taken, but much progress could not be made.

We find that, even now, many parents, particularly those belonging to scheduled castes and tribes, don't send their daughters to schools and keep them busy in some work or the other to supplement the income of the family. Also, certain parents don't want to send their daughters to co-educational institutions. Of course, this is also a fact that in the University/ Board examinations, the performance of girls is far better than that of boys and the first positions are generally bagged by girls.

In Sarojini Naidu's opinion, education of women is essential for the progress of the nation. In a country like India, where the birth of a male child is celebrated with great joy and that of a female child gives a lot of sorrow, it is quite difficult to bring about a change in the situation in favour of women. Education is the only means through which such a change can be brought out.

The child receives early education in mother's lap. An educated mother can brighten the future of her child through proper education. According to an American survey, the higher the education of the mother, the easier would be for her children to obtain high educational diplomas.

An educated mother answers the child's curiosity-filled queries according to her knowledge. She does not rebuke the child to suppress his feelings because she knows that even small children have self-respect. She can tell him that if he does not stop making mischief, she will get angry with him or punish him, but she will never say ,"If you again make a mischief, a sadhu with matted hair will come, put you in his bag and run away". She tells him didactic stories and helps him to be disciplined in accordance with the norms of the society.

An average Indian is superstitious by nature and, many times, these superstitions become obstacles in his progress. Education plays a significant role in making the people get rid of superstitions and an educated lady can give proper direction to her family in this respect.

Education plays a major role, directly or indirectly, in the jobs for women. A large number of studies have indicated that there is a significant relationship between a woman's level of education and her job. Economic crisis has compelled women to take up jobs. In the urban middle and lower classes, women do jobs to improve the standard of living of the family. Educated women have come out of the four walls of their houses and work in schools, colleges, hospitals and various offices. They have become judges, scientists, doctors, engineers and professors and do various other jobs as the men folk do. They feel that they have a 'good say' in society because of their jobs. In Hoffman's view, job works as a safety valve for them.

Education creates political awareness among women. Educated women like Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur, Aruna Asif Ali and Sarojini Naidu participated in various movements related to the struggle for India's independence. Now, women are ministers, member of parliament and state assemblies, though the number of such women is far less as compared to men. Educated women are essential for proper functioning of democracy - the uneducated do not now how precious their vote is.

Educated women are also doing a lot in the social field. In fact, women education is the means through which the desired social change can be achieved.

Somebody said, "If a person, who died about a hundred years ago, could become alive, he will find a very significant and surprising change: revolution in the conditions of women". There has been unprecedented awakening in the women because of education. They are marching ahead on the road to progress and it is a strong indication of the progress of our nation.




DR.HARNEK SINGH KAILE, Ph.D.(Education), M.Phil(Education), M.Ed., M.A.(English), M.A.(Punjabi) has 28 years' experience as a lecturer in a college of education, and is presently Principal, G.H.G.Kh. College of Education, Gurusar Sudhar, Distt Ludhiana (Pb.) India. He has published many research papers, including Bharti Sikhya Churahe Te (in Punjabi) which has been translated into English and is being serialised here.


Dr Kaile can be reached by e-mail at mailto: