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Bicycles become symbol of freedom for girl child

R. Ravikanth Reddy

HYDERABAD: On the face of it, a bicycle may not bring marked change in anyone's life in this age of globalisation. But bicycles are making a huge impact on the education of girl child in Bihar and Assam where the governments have supplied bicycles to girl students at the elementary level.

Amitabha Bhattacharya, Senior Consultant, Education, Planning Commission of India says, bicycles should not be seen as just vehicles but a symbol of freedom and a tool to bring girl children to schools.

The Bihar and Assam experiences are worth emulating by other States as this would provide an opportunity for them to go to school comfortably irrespective of the distance.

Unlike the Southern States lot of other States in India have a poor record with regard to girl children's education. While lack of schools has denied them education social issues have also negatively contributed to it. Parents were too worried with social issues as well as the distance factor. But bicycles gave them the much needed confidence.

“At the same time, it has a positive effect on parents too,” says Dr. Bhattacharya.

In fact, a similar effort was made in Andhra Pradesh too when girl children in the rural areas were given bicycles by the then Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu. The scheme though started with fanfare did not see the desired success due to two reasons.

Some teachers say the RTE Act being implemented by the Central government should have suggested such innovative schemes that have the capacity to draw girl children to schools. In rural areas of the State most girl students drop out due to distance factor and this is seen at the middle and high school more than primary school. Parents would also be encouraged to send them to schools in nearby villages as transportation will not be an issue.

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