So my stay in Delhi this year ends and I have seen a lot of things and heard a lot of people. I love meeting people and hearing their point of view, and the perspective of people is quite different here compared to the West. And so my last blog post from this year’s trip to India was inspired by a visit to one of my cousins and how she has educated her daughter.
According to Statistics today women in India account for almost 50 per cent of enrolment in higher education. 20 years ago, this enrolment was less than 25 per cent.
And my story demonstrates this nicely. My father’s family are still quite poor and live in rural India. They are farmers just about managing ends. My mother’s family are better off, they live in the suburbs of Delhi so now they have access to better facilities and education. The uncle on my mother’s side got a very basic education and worked as a mechanic for the Delhi buses. He had a son and a daughter. Partly due to cultural reasons and partly due to poverty, 19 years ago she was married off at the age of 16. She was two years off from her GCSEs still but was now married as a housewife and could not finish her studies.
At the age of 17 she had her first child, a daughter. I visited my cousin this time and she regretted not being educated further and she remembered her last few days at school fondly. She didn’t like maths apparently (obviously not tutored by me then!). 18 years have passed and her daughter has now started at University and is a fluent English speaker. Her mother is really happy in the investment she made in her daughter’s education and to complete what she was never able to do herself.
A similar story resonates with the rest of my mother’s family in Delhi and the current generation of girls are not only more educated than the previous one, but they are not being married off as teenage brides! So this has been really heartening to see and I am proud of my nieces and cousins.
However, the situation is not so good in rural India (Gonda, Uttar Pradesh) where my father came from. But they do have a local school next to them so hopefully the same success can be repeated there too as I have seen girls and boys in equal numbers there starting off at primary level. Hopefully I can report on that when I delve into rural India next year. Something I missed out this year.