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Girls begin Going to School

All Reformers felt that it was necessary to educate women in order to improve their condition.

  • Vidyasagar set up schools for girls in Calcutta.

  • Veerasalingam established a girls school at Dhavaleswaram and Rajamundry
  • Problems Faced by Girls to go to Schools

    • When schools for girls opened in the mid-nineteenth century, many people were afraid of them.

    • They feared that schools would take girls away from home, prevent them from doing their domestic work like cooking and washing.

    • Girls had to travel through public places in order to reach school and people felt that this would spoil them.

    Some liberal fathers and husbands allowed their daughters and wives to be educated at home. Some women even taught themselves.

    Rashsundari Debi

    Rashsundari Debi secretly learned to read and write in the flickering light of candles at night.

    Rashsundari Devi was born in West Bengal, in the year 1800. At the age of 60, she wrote her autobiography in Bangla, her mother tongue. Her book was titled Amar Jiban. It was the first autobiography written by an Indian woman.

    Rashsundari Devi was a housewife. During her time it was believed that if a woman learnt to read and write, she would bring bad luck to her husband and become a widow. Still Rashsundari learnt how to read and write, all by herself, in secret. She had house work to do from morning till evening. She did not have any spare time and there were no schools for girls.

    Rashsundari Devi had a great thirst to learn to read and write. Started learning to read by matching words from her son’s alphabets book and the manuscript of Chaitanya Bhagabat, which her husband used to read. It took Rashsundari Devi many years to learn how to read. She had to try very hard.

    Through her autobiography she gave the world an opportunity to read about women’s lives in those days. Rashsundari Devi wrote about her everyday life experiences in details, in her book Amar Jiban. There were days when she did not have a moment’s rest, no time even to sit down and eat.

    • In the latter part of the century, schools for girls were established by the Arya Samaj in Punjab, and in Maharashtra.

    • In aristocratic Muslim households in North India, women learnt to read the Koran in Arabic. They were taught by women who came home to teach.

    • Mumtaz Ali, a reformer, reinterpreted verses from the Koran and argued for women’s education.

    • From the late nineteenth century Urdu novels were written. These novels encouraged women to read.

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