How bicycles are fighting illiteracy and empowering women in India
The Indian state of Bihar has only a 33 percent literacy rate for women — the lowest in the country. But the state government, headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, is turning education for girls around — with bicycles. In 2007 Kumar instituted a plan to give schoolgirls money to buy bicycles once they successfully complete Class 8 (eighth grade). With girls now able to easily get themselves to school, Bihar swelled its Class 9 enrollment by 170,000 in the program's first year.
The state gave out 871,000 bikes in its first three years, and dropouts among girls have dropped from 2.5 million to 1 million per year. The program has been so successful that other states in India are launching similar initiatives, and Bihar is expanding the program to include boys too. ("Now, they have no reasons to complain," Kumar wrote on his blog.)
Gehlot copies Bihar in cycle distribution, Times of India.