UMANG: Dare to Dream

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Educational Aspirations of Adolescent Girls | Evidence from Jharkhand, India

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Nalini V. Khurana, Pranita Achyut, Hanimi Reddy, Ravi K. Verma

The importance of inclusive and equitable education is enshrined in Goal Four of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with special emphasis on addressing gendered disparities in access to safe, affordable, and quality education. Adolescent girls, in particular, face complex, gendered realities wherein inequitable norms contribute to their exclusion from growth and development opportunities; and restrict their agency and aspirations.

In these difficult circumstances, education plays a key role in increasing young girls’ knowledge about themselves and the world around them. It also opens up a variety of options and opportunities available to them as they navigate the transition from adolescence to adulthood. By encouraging girls and ensuring an equitable learning environment, education enables them not only to visualize the kind of life they want for themselves, but also articulate, advocate, and act to break down barriers, and achieve their goals.

Although gender parity in education has gradually improved in India, girls continue to lag on key indicators, with high dropout rates and low completion of secondary education. Evidence also indicates that although there is improved gender parity in attendance and school-going status among the younger age groups, the gender gap widens among older adolescents, with fewer older girls engaged in education and training. In Jharkhand, 38 percent of women (as compared to 18 percent of men) aged 15-49 years have never been to school, and only 15 percent of women aged 19-24 years completed 12th standard (IIPS and ICF, 2017).

Given the prevailing challenges, ICRW, along with partners, is implementing UMANG – a comprehensive, integrated intervention to empower adolescent girls, enhance their agency and aspirations, and end child marriage in select high-prevalence districts of Jharkhand. This research report presents the education status and aspirations of adolescent girls in Godda, Jamtara and Sahibganj districts of Jharkhand. It also examines the protective factors and barriers to their education and aspirations, as well as programmatic implications.

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Publication Rights:

The research reported in this publication has been conducted as part of the UMANG program. UMANG is being implemented by ICRW Asia, in partnership with SATHEE, Badlao Foundation and Project Concern International, in close association with the Government of Jharkhand, and with financial support from the IKEA Foundation. The facts and information in this report may be reproduced, quoted or cited only for non-commercial use and with appropriate attribution.