SAN DIEGO, California — The year 2030 not only marks the desired deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but also the desired year to achieve great reforms in India’s higher education system with Vision 2030 program. The key to achieving both sets of goals lies in the empowerment of 10-year-old girls.
By 2030, the SDGs aim to achieve quality education for all. A 2016 U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) report reveals that a central element to attaining this goal is investing in the education and prosperity of 10-year-old girls. The report lauded the progress of education in India, and while there is still room for improvement, Indian efforts forecast an equal education environment by 2030.
There are 60 million 10-year-old girls in the world today, 35 million of which live in countries with large gender disparities. This is a pivotal age for many girls because it often marks the start of puberty and in some nations, the age where a girl is viewed as a commodity to be bought, sold or traded.
The UNFPA condemns practices that promote such views of girls, including forced marriage, female genital mutilation and child labor. Removing these barriers to education and economic prosperity is a key step to empowering girls, eliminating gender discrimination and realizing the SDGs.
Education in India has made great strides in improving gender equality. In 2016, India jumped from 108th to 87th on the Global Gender Gap index. The 2009 Right to Education Act has helped expand free and compulsory education for young girls. Additionally, the government launched a national adolescent health initiative in 2014 to help expand access to health information and services for teenagers. These programs are based on the principles of participation, rights, inclusion and gender equity and marks progress toward including girls in proper schooling and health education.
Efforts by the Indian government deserve praise and attention, but continuing problems must still be addressed.
While primary school enrollment for girls has improved, dropout rates remain high and joblessness can plague girls who do make it through secondary education. Continuing to address the obstacles that keep girls from receiving an education will drastically impact both the future of the SDGs and India’s higher education goals in the coming decades.
Vision 2030 outlines India’s plan for its higher education system in the year 2030. Among the youngest nations in the world in that year, India will need a robust higher education system to keep up with its rapidly growing economy. The student-oriented, technology-intensive higher education model can allow India to emerge as a global supplier of skilled labor.
In the past two decades, India has expanded access to low-cost, high-quality higher education and reforms have focused on improving learning outcomes. In order to create a sustainable education system, however, India will need to bridge the gap between its reforms in primary education and higher education. Secondary education, particularly for girls, will be key in allowing India to realize its Vision 2030.
Empowering women has vast benefits on whole economies. U.N. Women shows that reducing the gender gap in the workforce contributes to faster economic growth. Additionally, increasing the share of a household’s income controlled by women changes spending in ways that benefit children. Between efforts to include young girls in primary education in India and strengthening the higher education model, Indian girls are on the road to gaining access to quality education and attaining economic prosperity.
– McKenna Lux