The centre’s “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” drive had created some noise in the educational scenario of the country. Now, it’s time for the state governments to ramp-up their activities for gender-inclusive education. The new Congress government of Rajasthan is following suit by introducing free education for girls in all government-run institutions in the state from the next academic session. The announcement was made by Higher Education Minister Bhanwar Singh Bhati. The decision is part of the state Congress’ election manifesto.

In various regions of the country, the real barrier between girls and education is not lack of facilities but the rigid primitive mentality of people. Moreover, crimes against women comprise a big issue that needs to be dealt with. Thus the government of Rajasthan also announced that a fearless environment for girls will be ensured in colleges by setting up internal complaint committees.

To strengthen Rajasthan’s educational sphere, Bhanwar Singh Bhati also announced that coaching classes will be set up for students of government colleges to train them for taking competitive examinations. Free coaching classes have already been launched in 40 colleges and soon all 252 government colleges in the state will be having the facility.

Along with providing free education for girls in all government education facilities from July this year, the government has also announced that free sanitary napkins will be provided to girl students. While making these announcements, Bhati pointed out to the fact that the previous BJP government’s poor work in the educational sphere of the state has resulted in a lot of damages like bad infrastructure. Such matters will also be looked into. An investigation will be conducted into the educational sector recruitments made by the previous government as well.

Bhanwar Singh Bhati made these announcements while he was is in Ajmer to inaugurate the office of the students’ union of Samraat Prithvi Raj Chouhan Government College. As explained by the minister himself, the move is aimed at encouraging more and more girls in Rajasthan to not only to get educated but also to strive for higher education. He added that increasing the number of girls opting for higher education will be the key to progress in the state.

Speaking about the educational drawbacks in the state, Bhati said that the Raje government had made no effort in encouraging rural youth – both girls and boys – to take up higher education. He said that the present administration will ensure that the rural youth get a fair chance. To fill up vacant posts in government colleges, the state government is currently engaged in selecting as many as 830 lecturers.

A similar move was made by the Karnataka government, in December last year. The Karnataka government had made pre-graduation, graduation and post graduation education free for girls. In a country where gender discrimination, female foeticide and infanticide, sexual harassment and other crimes against women are stark realities, such moves from the state governments are highly welcome. Their main aim, at the end of the day, is women empowerment.