Chhattisgarh Government has formulated an incentive scheme named "Saraswati Bicycle Supply Scheme (Free)" which was launched in 2004-05 with an objective to promote girls enrolment and reduce the dropout of girl child in the age group of 14-18 at secondary and senior secondary level.
Secondary education is a crucial stage in the educational hierarchy as it prepares the students for higher education and also for the world of the work. Class IX & X constitute the secondary stage, whereas classes XI & XII are designated as the higher secondary stage. The normal age group of the children in secondary classes is 14-16 years whereas it is 16- 18 years for higher secondary stages. The population of the age group 14 to 18 was 8.55 crore in 2001 as per the census data and it was stablized at around 9.7 crore in 2011. The Gross Enrolment Ratio for class IX- XII in 2004-05 was 39.1 percent and the figure for class IX & X was 51.65 percent whereas that for classes XI & XII was 27.82 percent.
The secondary education suffers from lack of access, low participation and from equity and quality issues. The All India average of the number of secondary & higher secondary schools per 100 square kilometre area is only 4 and Chhattisgarh is much below even this low national average. As per as equity is concerned there is a gap between boys & girls, the GER of boys being 44.26 percent as against 35.05 percent for girls with a difference of 9.2 percentage points as September 2004. The GER for students belonging to SC is 34.55 percent and that belonging to STs is even lower at 26.68 percent, the lowest GER being for ST girls at 21.95 percent.
The participation of girls at all stage of education has been increasing steadily through the years. Since 1950-51 girls participation has increased many folds in primary, middle, secondary/ senior secondary stages from 28.1 percent to 46.7 percent, from 16.1 percent to 44.4 percent, from 13.3 percent to 41.5 percent respectively. However, the girl’s participation is still below 50 percent at all stages of schooling. The gain in girl’s enrolment tells only one side of the story. When girl’s NER is compared with that of boys, one can observe a serious gender gap. Equally, the promotion and dropout rates of girl’s students are also the areas of concern.
Incentive schemes have long been used as a means of promoting girl’s education in most developing countries where governments are struggling to improve the status of girls’ education. Policy makers, planners and donors often believe that incentives can boost up girl’s enrolment, retention and learning achievement in schools.
Both education & tribal welfare departments are the nodal agency at state level to decide the eligibility criteria of beneficiaries to be covered under this scheme. The coverage of beneficiaries by education departments includes all the class IX girls students who belongs to SC, ST and under BPL (OBC & Generals) whereas tribal welfare departments covers SC, ST, BPL and PTG (Primitive Tribal Groups).
Evaluation studies of the scheme indicate that Saraswati Bicycle Scheme” has become a boon for the girls students in- terms of their increasing enrolment and attendance in the schools because, they use to come to schools in the groups by riding their bicycle. This scheme has impacted both in -terms of solving/reducing the security related concerns of the girls and their parents which in turn increased the enrolment and attendance of girls in class IX.