School selection: Disparity begins at home
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While Champa is employed in a garment factory, her husband has a crockery shop. The monthly school fee of their son is Rs 300, excluding stationery, uniform and extra tuition expenses.
Another example is of Rita Lalwani, a resident of Tulsinagar. Her two daughters Diya (8) and Pinki (6) are studying in municipal schools while her son Nilesh (12) goes to a private school. Her husband works at a grocery store.
There are several other similar examples from across the city where the male child enjoys the privilege of education from an English medium private school while the education of daughters is restricted to municipal schools.
Municipal School Board chairman Jagdish Bhavsar says, "This practice is very much prevalent in the families in Ahmedabad. They might claim the disparity because of financial constraints, but that is not the actual reason."
His views are echoed by educationist Sukhdev Patel, who has been spearheading the campaign for the implementation of Right to Education Act. "Even we have come across such a trend in our studies. Not only in Ahmedabad but I am sure in other parts of the state also there is a general perception of quality education to be imparted in private schools. Also, there is a feeling among families that they should not waste money on a girl's education. Thus, this trend."
Janki Vasant, founder of Samvedana, an NGO working in the field of education, says, "We have witnessed many cases where daughters are sent to a government school while their brothers go to private schools... we have counselled so many families. Though we claim to belong to an educated society, the disparity is deep rooted within our families."