Female literacy rate still low despite overall rate increased

Female literacy rate still low despite overall rate increased

The literacy rate for female youth is 97.2%, while male youth literacy is 98.3%

The literacy rate for both youth and adults for women is low as compared to men despite overall literacy rate has increased. 

This is according to the Bhutan Living Standard Survey (BLSS) report for 2022, the National Status Bureau (NSB), it shows that the literacy rate of the particular section of population is low.  

The literacy rate for female youth is 97.2%, while male youth literacy is 98.3%. Similarly, the adult literacy rate for females has shown a difference of 57.0% over the 73.4% adult literacy rate for males. The overall literacy has increased by 4.2 % compared to previous report.

The chairperson of the National Assembly’s Women and Children Committee, Norbu Wangzom said that the large literacy gap between adult females and males is not a new implication but “it is of the past.” The Member of Parliament (MP) of Jomotshangkha-Martshala, Norbu Wangzom constituency said that the literacy rate of particular section of population is due to stereotype belief that girls are meant for looking after parents and where most parents encouraged only boys in schooling, most of the girls were left behind and not attending school.”

Secondly, the chairperson said that the gap was not due to generational differences but rather due to limited schooling in most of our country, leaving everyone behind.

Furthermore, the Chairperson said, “Girls continue to drop out earlier than boys for domestic reasons, and all girls were left behind because most parents believed that girls could not do well,” adding that, more importantly, most parents did not place a high value on education in the past.

The chairperson also said that the level of determination between genders differs primarily because most girls lack the same level of determination as boys due to low self-esteem and self-confidence, and as a result, they are left behind.

Additionally, the chairperson said, “The literacy gap between youth genders is primarily due to several factors, including the fact that some girls become pregnant at a young age and, like boys, lack the courage to continue their studies, and as a result, most girls drop out.”

However, the chairperson said, “Hereafter, we are expecting that the gap could be reduced as schools are now easily available in each and every corner of the country.”

“Moreover, now non-formal education (NFE) is also introduced, and we hope that it will help reduce the literacy rate amongst the gender in country,” said the chairperson.

Instead of making policy, the chairperson said that increasing the literacy rate among women requires more awareness programs. “I don’t mean that policy is not important, but more importantly, the awareness program will work more as compared to policy.”

Similarly, the associating director, Dorji Wangmo, National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) said that the adult literacy rate for women has always been lower than that for men and that there is no formal education or continuing education to enhance the adult literacy rate.

As per the report of BLSS, it has been shown that a higher proportion of female children not attending school or an institute are due to having completed secondary school, which is 26.6%, followed by not qualifying for enrolment, due to not attaining the required age at the time of enrolment period, which is 19.3%.

Similarly, in rural areas, the majority of the female child population was all those female children who were graduates of secondary school, which comes out to 19.3%.

However, the report shows that the female children have slightly higher Gross Attendance Ratio (GAR) than male children. Overall, the GAR for female children is 97.4% % as compared to 93.4% for male children.

As per the BLSS reports it shows that rural males (95.6%) and females (100.0%) have higher GAR at the primary level as compared to urban males (95.2%) and females (92.1%).

The report also shows that as the level of education increases, males and females in urban areas have higher GAR than rural males and females.

“At the lower secondary level, urban females have the highest GAR (116%), while rural males of higher secondary have the lowest GAR (72.7%),” as per the report.

There is also a marked difference in GAR at the lower secondary level between urban and rural areas. The report shows that the GAR for urban females is 116.0% as compared to only 101.7% for rural females. Similarly, the GAR for urban males is 114.8%, while it is only 102.8% for rural males.

In the meantime, literacy is defined as the ability to read and write a short text in Dzongkha, Lhotsham, English, or any other language, according to the NSB.

The 2022 BLSS collected information about the education of all household members who were two years of age or older at the time of the survey.

Gross Attendance Ratio (GAR) is defined as the total number of students attending school at a given level of education, irrespective of their age, to the total number of children in the age group specified for that level of education. The specific age group for each level of education is defined as 5-12 years for primary, 13-14 years for lower secondary, 15-16 years for middle secondary, and 17-18 years for higher secondary as defined as by NSB.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu