School selection: Disparity begins at home

Nearly 12,700 girls against 9,000 boys in Urdu medium schools, 13,000 girls against 12,000 boys in Hindi medium and 55,000 girls against 54,000 boys in Gujarati medium.

The higher number of girls than boys in many of the 456 municipal schools in Ahmedabad, where over 1.5 lakh children go to, may seem to be contradicting the state's skewed sex ratio of 918 females per 1000 males. But the truth is otherwise.

This reflects a deep-rooted gender bias within middle and lower-middle class families in the city when it comes to picking the school for their children. The trend is not witnessed in one particular community or caste but across three mediums of instruction — Urdu, Hindi and Gujarati.

"My elder brother speaks fluent English because he goes to an English medium private school. Even I want to go to this school but my parents say we can go there once we clear Class VIII," says 11-year-old Priti Marwadi, who wants to become a police officer.

She and her sister Pooja (12), residents of Nava Wadaj, study in a nearby municipal school while their 15-year-old bother Suresh is a Class IX student of Mira Ambika School in Naranpura.

"As we have four children (the youngest is a two-year-old boy), we cannot afford to send them all to a private school," says their father Ramesh Marwadi.

Naresh Sareshah, a resident of Akbarnagar, everyday drops his 11-year-old son Yogesh to Valladi Private

School while his 10-year-old daughter Kareena goes to a nearby municipal school on her own.

"This decision is merely for the sake of convenience and not due to any financial constraint as my son is very mischievous and he requires discipline of a private school. On the other hand, despite studying in a municipal school, Kareena is very intelligent and a good student, so I do not think she requires any special attention," says Champa Sareshah.

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