Women Education

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Indian history

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Girl student, India

[edit]Pre-Independence
The history of female education in India has its roots in the British Regime. Women's employment and education was acknowledged in 1854 by the East India Company's Programme: Wood's Dispatch. Slowly, after that, there was progress in female education, but it initially tended to be focused on the primary school level and was related to the richer sections of society. The overall literacy rate for women increased from 0.2% in 1882 to 6% in 1947.[48]

In 1878, the University of Calcutta became one of the first universities to admit female graduatesto its academic degree programmes, before any of the British universities had later done the same. This point was raised during the Ilbert Bill controversy in 1883, when it was being considered whether Indian judges should be given the right to judge British offenders. The role of women featured prominently in the controversy, where English women who opposed the bill argued that Bengali women, who they stereotyped as "ignorant" and neglected by their men and that Indian men should therefore not be given the right to judge cases involving English women.

Bengali women who supported the bill responded by claiming that they were more educated than the English women opposed to the bill and pointed out that more Indian women had degrees than British women did at the time.[49]

[edit]Post-Independence
After India attained independence in 1947, the University Education Commission was created to recommend suggestions to improve the quality of education. However, their report spoke against female education, referring to it as: "Women's present education is entirely irrelevant to the life they have to lead. It is not only a waste but often a definite disability" (Report of the University Education Commission, Government of India, 1948–49, Vol. (i), Chapter XII, pp. 401),

However, the fact that the female literacy rate was at 8.9%...
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