Conducted by the M.V. Foundation, the survey on impediments to girl education involved girls who were first-generation education seekers. It reported 74.2 per cent girls as saying education was not free even in government institutions that did not charge for tuition, but collected other fees that many students could not afford.
The respondents said they had to earn wages to support education. Data for the study was pooled from 20 colleges selected randomly from 2,141 colleges, both private and government, excluding Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts.
“Fees other than tuition are collected from students and there is no regulation for such collection. Given that budgets for most colleges are inadequate and often does not arrive on time, the fees are used to run these institutions. It is indeed a difficult situation for students as reimbursement arrives only towards the end of the academic year,” says Shailaja Ramaiyer, Commissioner of Collegiate Education, Board of Intermediate Education, while acknowledging the study’s findings.
The study found that sexual abuse and eve-teasing were major impediments to girls continuing education. Nearly 37.5 per cent respondents said they experienced sexual assaults at primary school level and 34.1 per cent reported experiencing sexual abuse at least once a week during second year of Intermediate. Eve-teasing had caused girls to drop out of college and many also regularly experienced gender and caste discrimination.
Additionally, the study also found low levels of sexual awareness among respondents. For instance, only 63.2 per cent girls did not know if pregnancy could occur on kissing or hugging, while 90.5 per cent were unaware if a woman could get pregnant during the first instance of intercourse.
Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika convenor Mallepali Laxmaiah recommended that hostels be set up for every education institution to facilitate higher education, as the family environment could vitiate education, he observed. The study reported most girls witnessing violence at home, usually perpetuated by an alcoholic father.