Taking cognisance of Niti Aayog’s strong remarks on falling sex ratio and child marriage leading to a low birth weight in Gujarat, the state government has rolled out a new scheme for girls — first and second girl child in a family.
The ‘Vahalee Deekaree Yojana’ (beloved daughter) scheme announced on Tuesday by Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who also handles finance portfolio, is likely to ease out the existing Vidyalakshmi bond scheme that had been questioned for its efficacy. The new scheme covers aspects of correcting sex ratio and child marriage, apart from girls’ education.
With a provision of Rs 133 crore, the scheme will benefit families with income of upto Rs 2 lakh per year. Under the ‘Vahalee Deekaree Yojana’, the first and second girl child of the family will be provided assistance of Rs 4,000 at the time of enrollment in the Class I and assistance of Rs 6,000 at the time of enrollment in Class IX.
This would help female literacy and prevent drop-out of girls at the secondary level, which the state failed to arrest despite with schemes like free bicycles and various scholarships. As per the latest ASER survey findings, the female drop out rate was the highest among girls in the age bracket of 15-16 years in Gujarat at 24.9 per cent against 3.6 per cent girls out of school in 11-14 age bracket. The national average for girls in 15-16 years bracket is 13.5 per cent. This is second highest after Madhya Pradesh which stands at 26.8 per cent in the same age category.
“While the Vidyalakshmi bond scheme is purely for the purpose of education of girl child from low female literacy areas, the Vahalee Deekaree Yojana aims at three areas — education, sex ratio and child marriage… with this scheme we are aiming at a holistic improvement,” said Milind Torawane, secretary, women and child development department.
Under this scheme, a financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh will be provided for higher education or for marriage when the girls reach 18 years. “This will help in preventing female foeticide, promote girls’ education and provide a substantial amount for higher education and for marriage when she becomes an adult,” said the finance minister Nitin Patel’s budget speech states.
Under the Vidyalakshmi bond scheme, which is for girls particularly from low female literacy areas (less than 30 per cent), a bond of Rs 2,000 is fixed in the name of the girl at the time of her enrollment in Class I and matures at the time she completes Class VIII, when she can claim it. Under the Vahalee Deekaree Yojana, Rs 4,000 will be handed over at the time of enrollment only.
A recent report by the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on the implementation of the Vidyalakshmi Yojana (VLY) launched in 2002, pointed out its operational flaws in defining and reaching out to beneficiaries, along with glaring discrepancies in the conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme as “a clear case of many eligible households not being able to access or being excluded from the scheme”.
In the state government’s Socio-Economic Review for the year 2018-19, the government takes credit for a declining drop-out rate for elementary (from Class I-V) and primary education (from I-VIII). However, there is no mention of drop-out rate in the secondary classes (from Class IX to XII). As per the review, the drop-out rate for elementary section has declined from 22.3 per cent in 1999-2000 to 1.42 per cent in 2017-18 while the same for girls has declined from 20.83 to 1.53. The overall drop out rate from Class I till VIII has declined from 41.48 in 1999-2000 to 5.33 in 2017-18 while for girls it has reduced from 39.9 to 6.21 per cent