SRINAGAR, Aug 3: Though there are multiple reasons, lack of adequate transport in rural areas significantly contributes to the dropout rates of female students across Jammu and Kashmir.
A survey conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO) and accessed by Kashmir Despatch mentions that female literacy in Jammu and Kashmir is 68%, which is much lower than the male literacy rate of 85.70%.
However, the female literacy rate in rural Jammu and Kashmir is lower than in urban areas, at 66% and 75.70%, respectively.
The survey also reveals that only a meager percentage of females (2.8%) in Jammu and Kashmir are graduates and above whereas the percentage for males is 8.4%.
Disconnect between aspiring females of a village and the higher education institutions in particular is one of the biggest hindrances that young girls have to overcome to be able to claim their right to basic education.
Sephora is a remote village in the district of Ganderbal, particularly lacking in terms of public transport which has proven a reason of great discomfort for female students studying further than the area itself, especially in the morning and evening hours.
“If you plan to reach University on time you have to prepare yourself the night before, first, by setting an alarm for early morning” Shahista, an Islamic studies student at University of Kashmir, said while talking to Kashmir Despatch.
According to residents here, if you manage to get up early, barely compensating for the tiring routine of yesterday, you need to do everything as quickly as possible.
“The earlier you leave the house the better your chances of catching a bus,” said a local Ghulam Mohammad while talking to Kashmir Despatch.
That is another matter if the bus shows up or not, or makes you wait another hour or two. “My son cycles to the school. But my daughter cannot go to school on her own. I have to drop her,” said Abdul Rashid, a resident of Nambil Nar, a remote village in district Baramulla, while talking to Kashmir Despatch.
Anguished female students in Ganderbal’s rural areas stated that a few years ago they were able to afford a sumo because of reasonable fares but sumo drivers have increased the fare double than what they are supposed to charge.
“The buses are usually congested and not a very suitable way of transit for us girls,” observed Rafiya, a nursing student while talking to Kashmir Despatch. “You might have to pass on even two or three buses if they are severely overloaded and that costs us time and a class or more”
She adds further: “It is a problem for girls to find acceptable means of transport. But the problem goes beyond finding a ride”.
The rural parts of Kashmir are already endeavoring a lot when it comes to local transportation. This problem poses an enormous hazard to educational scenario in rural Kashmir coupled with schools located at a long distance in rural areas compel parents not to send their kids especially females to the schools, thus keeping them devoid of education.
“The assertion that rural girls are dropping out from schools because they are not enthusiastic about getting education, is not true. There are several reasons behind this problem. The prime factor is that there is no adequate transport facility in rural areas.”
“If a school or college happens to be far from people’s homes, parents show unwillingness to send their girls to school. In such a circumstance boys get preference and girls are forced to stay indoors,” claims a 12th standard student, Rabiya Jaan a resident of a village in Ganderbal.
Rabiya added with concern that, “If you decide on boarding a congested bus a girl certainly encounters ill-intending people. And these kinds of people are present everywhere, always on the lookout for women in such compromised spaces.”
All the female students who talked to Kashmir Despatch urged the authorities to “expand the transport network adding more government-run buses to the roster that can help minimizing their ordeal.”
“Afterwards services like women-only buses can be dispatched to such areas, at least in the morning and evening times. All of this can be coordinated from a regional transport office,” said these girls in unison.