17 May Equitable Quality Education written by Atlanda Halimat
Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. This quote can be interpreted as -once you have the privilege to be educated, you have in you the power to turn things around for yourself and the world. It means having education enlightens us about our world and the several ways to improve it. Quality education provides learners with the abilities to become economically productive, improve individual well-being, contribute to society growth and acquire sustainable livelihood. Every child, youth and adult deserves quality education, and providing it to them regardless of their gender, location, physical strength or social background means making it equitable. While education does not end with graduation, going to school is a good place to start.
Gender Disparities in Education
Gender disparities have been in existence for years in several sectors of life including education. These differences are based on and determined by many factors, including but not limited to social and economic poverty, physical disabilities, gender-based violence, social and cultural beliefs, pregnancy and early marriages. Girls have been known to constitute more than half (~15million) ofthe total young illiterates(~25million) in the world and this eventually leads to the gender gap in professional careers.
Inequality in education starts from the selection of who is to be enrolled in school but it doesn’t stop there. In some advanced countries with proper enlightenment about education for all gender, there are still some unconscious practicesthat are gender biased such as female teachers being more inclined to female students than male and getting biased during grades allocation, or teachers offering praises tomale students on technical subjects like mathematics and female students on family-oriented subjects like home economics, or messages that media passes that suggests that males are the only category of creatures capable of bringing about change to the world
These practices and orientation have a long lasting impact on the students at the receiving end especially if they are in their early years of development. It results in psychological changes in both malesand females. Males grow up feeling the need and pressure to command respect and power, and be assertive. Females develop with a feeling of passiveness, lack of self-confidence and absence of motivation. All of these ultimately shape the way that life is perceived by both genders and in turn have an effect on the overall growth of the community.
Gender-based Inequalities in Education in India
According to the human development report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) published in 2018, India has the second highest difference (3.4) in menand women average years of education after Afghanistan which has 4.1 years. This shows that males have 3.4 years more experience of formal education than females, and they would have more opportunities to take up careers in any field of their choosing and make more impact than females.
Equitable quality education involves more than just creating unbiased educational provisions across communities within nations. It involves ensuring that education provided is of great value to students, and it enables them to broaden the scope of their knowledge without forcefully or unintentionally inclining them to a particular field. This is important for many reasons such as improving economic growth and independence; raising economic, social and political status of women and boosting self-confidence; improving the availability of healthcare services to women and children; giving men the free-will to practice their passion without fear of discrimination; and encouraging sustainable development.
Despite the efforts of the Rights to Education Act in India (RTE) to provideequal and quality educationtoall citizens, anddespite the progress made in that regard, there is a long way to go before the gender gap is completely bridged. With relentless effort on the part of concerned agencies to revise school curriculum into one that is more sensitive to all kinds of people, equitable quality education will eventually become a reality.
Plato once said, “Do not train children to learn by force or harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each”. Being a genius is not dependent on gender. Every child has the right to shine.
 Mesquita, Cristina &Lopes, Rui. (2018). GENDER DIFFERENCES IN HIGHER EDUCATION DEGREE CHOICE.9794-9801. 10.21125/edulearn.2018.2358.
 Smile Foundation India, Our Children, Retrieved from Child Labour Policy | Child Labour Causes | Child Education in India (smilefoundationindia.org)
 United Nations Development Programme,(2019). Human Development Reports: Human Development Index trends, 1990–2018, Retrieved from http://www.hdr.undp.org/en/data#
 United Nations, SDG4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, Retrieved from https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/women-and-the-sdgs/sdg-4-quality-education