This thesis investigates why all girls of school-going age in rural Madhya Pradesh, India are not in school. Official documents and data from India give the impression that girls' participation in school has improved tremendously in the past decades and India is heading towards achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals. The government claims that the increase in girls' enrolment is the result of the effective implementation of incentives and targeted interventions. I explore how this claim is reflected on the ground, especially in rural areas. Empirically, I conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with four groups, the first of which consisted of six out-of-school girls, the second of 24 parents (12 fathers and 12 mothers) of out-of-school girls, the third of three school teachers, and the fourth of five administrators of the education department operating at different levels, in the Ratlam district of Madhya Pradesh, India. Drawing upon their accounts I show that the incentives provided by the education department to bring all girls into schools are not robust enough to act as encouragement. The social positioning of girls and women, the perceived future role of girls as mothers and home-makers, the patri-local marriage system, community pressure and the usefulness of girls at home have detrimental consequences for girls' education. These detrimental consequences are augmented by the ways in which teachers and educational administrators operate. The absence of an effective implementation system for the incentives set up by the government to encourage girls into school further undermines the latter's educational opportunities. I argue that gender divisions as a form of deprivation continue to operate in relation to the decision-making process regarding girls' schooling
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