Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bicycles Battling Illiteracy in India or 'Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojna'

Indian leaders are providing bicycles--a critical vehicle for basic transportation of people and goods--to girls who stay in school in higher grade levels. Most of the stories feature the state of Bihar, but it appears that other Indian state governments are also looking into it.

Check out this log post on the subject by Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar. Some of his constituents would like him to focus on other economic issues as well, which is understanding given the level of poverty in the State of Bihar; there is so much to be done.

But, the vast majority are very supportive it seems, and the Chief Minister's comments about the issue that prompted the bicycle program are stark and clear:

The dropout rate among the schoolgirls has been very high in Bihar over the years. The girls, particularly those from rural areas, often discontinue their studies beyond the primary or middle schools. Most of them are often married at an early age, which leave them with fewer opportunities to contribute their mite towards economic development of society.
And, I heartily agree with Kumar's closing statements:

I have always believed that any society cannot progress unless its women progress -- and the women in any society cannot progress unless they are educated. This scheme is a small step in that direction.

This project personifies the winds of change blowing across the state today. Its long-term impact will be felt in a few years from now. But I have no hesitation to say that this has already helped Bihar emerge as a vibrant state which truly believes in empowering its women through various ways. Educating girls is one of them.

In my limited travels of late to India I was inspired by the stregth of women and girls. I witnessed their doing much of the most brute physical labor--breaking rocks into smaller stones for road construction projects, carrying construction materials on their heads, field work, etc. Now they get the chance to further their own education, to have a fuller range of options for their futures, to get educated as equals. At least, this bicycle program is furthering that momentum.
Bicycles are simple. Bicycles are transformative. Bicycles are unlimited in their potential to help change the world for the better.

The photo is from Nitish Kumar's blog post.

Keep it in everybody's hands,