HIGHER EDUCATION AND ITS NECESSITY FOR WOMEN
Sanchayita Chakraborty, Assam, India
Education is birth right of every individual irrespective of gender. Women education has been one of the major issues since primitive times. In India many political thinkers, social reformers, philosophers and theorists were supporters of women education. Dr. S Radhakrishnan, the great Philosopher and President of India, said that there cannot be educated people without educated women. According to M.K Gandhi, education enables women to uphold their natural right. Swami Dayananda Swaraswati, a Hindu religious leader and founder of the Arya Samaj, considered that it is duty of the state and society to make education compulsory for all girls. According to Swami Vivekananda, daughters should be given as much education as sons so that they can be free from all fetters as self respecting person and can tackle all the problems that face them. Dr. Annie Besant, the founder of the All India Women’s Conference, was an ardent promoter of women’s education in India. She worked to raise the status of girls and women through education. She organized many groups to strive for the furtherance of girl’s school and colleges in many parts of India where girls and women were neglected. The famous reformers like Iswara Chandra Vidyasagar and Raja Ram Mohan Ray also gave emphasis on the education of women.
Women education, In India, is not a result of modern civilization. Even in the early Vedic era, education was open for women. Women had the right to learn fine arts and Veda. They had the right to participate in religious ceremonies along with her husband. Again, if we look towards Epic age, it is found that there is no discrimination of sex in the field of study. In Brihadaranyak Upanishad, a particular mantra was advised to generate a learned daughter. There we notice that the names of Gargi and maitreyi are treated as distinguishing figures in Brahmmavidya – the highest knowledge. In Ramayan and Mahabharta, most of the female characters are found educated. The examples of educated and brilliant women in ancient India is Savitri, Damayanti, Lilawati, Meera etc. But we notice that the position of women has gone through various changes during different ages. At times they had been deteriorated. Although in the Manu Smriti, it was mentioned that women should be highly honoured, we find number of provisions there which actually go against women’s interest. There women are deprived of Upanayana ceremony and thereby of education. From the eleventh century when Mohammad Ghazni conquered India till middle of the eighteenth century when the British rule was established in the country, the ‘Purdah’ system was followed and education of women was stopped. In 1854 women’s education and employment were acknowledged by the East India Company. Then the education was limited only to primary school level and this facility was enjoyed by only richer section of the society. In post independence period the female literacy rate in India was only 8.9%. In 1958, government of India formed a national committee for the education of women and in favor of women education the most of the recommendations of the committee were accepted by the government. As a result, an improvement in the number of female students’ enrolment in higher education is visible since independence. This paper will make a discussion on higher education and its function. How enhancement of female educational level improves not only the standard of living for their children but also improves the prospect of their entire community will also be discussed here. The method of the present work is analytical in nature. The work is theory oriented. An attempt is taken to reach at conclusive point through books, journals and articles available in different libraries in India.
Higher Education and its background in India
Education attained after the completion of secondary level is known as higher education in India. Etymologically, the term ‘Higher Education’ implies the education at degree level and above. In fact, higher educational institutions include not only colleges and universities. All other institutions which allow only post- secondary candidates in their campus are also treated as higher educational institutions. Such as Technological Institutions, Schools of Medicine, Schools in the field of Business, Teacher’s Training School etc. We find higher education had its roots in ancient India. Being influenced by Vedic learning, large teaching institutions like Taxila, Nalanda and Vikramshila were established in ancient India which is often characterized as India’s early universities. During the time of British Raj in India, there were about eighteen universities in the country. At the end of British rule, in 1947, the number of students receiving university education were 1, 80,000 only. By 1957, the number of students in the universities increased up to 6, 00,000. In the various Five Year Plans, education development schemes were adopted and scholarship/stipends were launched for students. As a result, public was attracted towards university education. Now a day, with the growth of population, higher education in India is being complex and challenging. India has large higher educational institutions. It has 777 universities (as per website of UGC as on 02.12.2016) and many degree colleges under the affiliation of nearby universities.
Role of Higher Education
Higher Education can widen our vision and can develop our power of generalization and abstract thought. It does not directly prepare us for any particular profession. Rather, it may indirectly make us better fitted to deal with any situation in which we may find ourselves placed. Throughout history, human progress was possible due to devotion of men and women to the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Today, a university is the best place to acquire knowledge and develop the power of judgment. It can make persons leaders and pioneers in their respective field of thought. If we wish to serve our own nation and the entire world as well, we must exercise leadership intelligently and wisely. This is possible only by developing qualities of clear thinking, hard work and disciplined application. A university is the place where we come into contact with the highest ideas and values evolved by men and try to make them an essential element of our own personality.
Need of Higher Education for Women
Higher education is not restricted to male only. It is very important for female also. It enables women to improve quality of life at home and outside. No doubt higher educated women can provide better guidance to their children which are very necessary in the development process. It is found that sons and daughters of employed mothers are free from traditional gender-role attitude. Moreover, it is found that daughters of employed mother have good academic achievement and higher career success. Higher education is the most important means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence so that they can fix themselves up with position in the society. Higher educated women enjoy better job position. Higher education plays a key role in promotion of women in their working life. Again, higher education increases a woman’s abilities to deal with problems not only of her life and family, but also of society and nation. Women’s higher education leads to social benefit as most of them are likely to engage in civic participation. As higher education of women increases the income of women, it leads to growth in gross domestic product.
From social point of view, it may be said that it is a good sign if status of women in technological, scientific and other spheres are considered as efficient. So, women should be awakened enough so that they cannot be subdued. They should be prepared for participation in social, political and financial aspect of life.
1 Bhatia,K and Bhatia, B.D . (1945) THEORY AND PRINCIPLES OF EDUCATION, Delhi, Nai Sarak , Doaba House.
2. Kabir, Humayun. (1961) INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION, Asia publishing house.
3. Khan, Mohammad Abbas. (2004), MODERN CONPERATIVE EDUCATION, India, New Delhi, Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd.