Survey and Research Papers on SC/ST
Scheduled Caste Children in Bihar
Inclusive Educational Policy
Society for Participatory Research in Asia
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The idea of this study was brought up by PRIA and subsequently developed by me in consultation with several persons who had the opportunity to work among dalit children in Bihar. Many of them were associated with another study on educational exclusion of dalit children supported by the Centre of Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Patna University about two years back. Friends from PRIA made several important suggestions regarding the scope and methodology of the study. Further, the framework of this study was a little different from earlier studies primarily because of a recent development in the form of Right to Education Act which was passed in 2009 and was declared by the Central Government to have come into effect from April 1, 2010. It is time to make an assessment of the situation keeping the infrastructural requirements and the entitlements under the Act in view.
Field level data collection from schools as well as households were very important and three partners of PRIA, namely, Dalit Vikas Abhiyaan Samiti, Dalit Samanway and Jan Adhikar Kendra took up this onerous responsibility. Amitabh Bhushan from PRIA was involved both in the design of study and field level work,. In fact he was the main resource person for the Focus group discussion which was organized in Vaishali with a number of stakeholders.
My colleagues in East & west Educational Society including Daisy Narain, Kumar Kishor, Vijoy Kant Sinha and Rabindra Rai provided assistance at various stages. Raunaq, as before, helped with computer entry and lay out design of the final report. I am indebted to Voluntary Forum for Education for helping me gain insights into ground zero problems and draw upon liberally from numerous suggestions provided by grass roots workers, who are members of VFE.
Indeed this study is a collaborative team effort of many committed social workers and their years of dedicated work and I thank them all for their contribution and generous sharing of experiences.
I. Social Exclusion: Conceptual Issues
II. Status of Education among Children
III. Rationale & Methodology
IV. Recent Programmes and Policies
V. Findings of Study
VI. Factors behind educational exclusion
VII. Policy Framework Analysed
1. School Survey Format
2. Family Survey Format
I. Social Exclusion and Inclusion: Conceptual Issues
Although exclusion is a new term which has come into currency only in recent decades, it is not difficult to comprehend in the Indian context. It has a well understood social connotation, which is lately extended to a variety of other domains as well. The term is being increasingly used alongside, and sometimes in substitution of poverty, since the eighties, especially while discussing social policy first in Europe, and subsequently elsewhere.
Indian society is characterized by the most inhuman kind of exclusionary practices based on pollution-purity principle. Social reformers have criticized it in different ages, leaders from lower castes like Phuley and Ambedkar initiated an ideological debate and larger programmes of struggle. Gandhi and other nationalist leaders took it up during the era of freedom struggle, Ambedkar had used the term Bahishkrita Samaj explicitly and the term bahishkaran initially was thought of in limited context. Contemporary debate is more open and wider, which needs to be appreciated equally by the academics, activists and policy planners.
According to any standard dictionary, exclusion means to shut out whether by thrusting out or preventing admission or to debar someone from some activity or place. It may be pertinent to note that mere non-participation is not exclusion, rather it is the denial of entry or admittance, which constitutes exclusion. In fact, the word 'exclusive' on the other hand means possessed and enjoyed by a privileged few to the exclusion of others debarred from participation or enjoyment. Both the term imply a rejection of the principle of equality.
According to Piron & Curran, "Exclusion is defined with reference to groups of people who are excluded from social, political and economic processes and institutions on the basis of their social identity and who experience to a greater or lesser degree significant poverty impacts as a result of their exclusion."1 Thus exclusion is generally linked not only with equity, but also with discrimination and deprivation.
Wikipaedia gives the following definition of social exclusion: "Social exclusion is a multidimensional process of progressive social rupture, detaching groups and individuals from social relations and institutions and preventing them from full participation in the normal, normatively prescribed activities of the society in which they live."
If denial of participation is the key feature, its dimensions may be varied and several. It is true that even though individuals may be subjected to exclusion of one kind or the other, often it applies to a defined community. Of course the construction or definition of the community may not be natural phenomenon.
Distinction between terms: Exclusion & Discrimination
Lee and Thorat have made a clear distinction between the terms 'exclusion' and 'discrimination' in the following words: “exclusion” means prohibition from participation, whereas “discrimination” denotes participation with negative distinction2.
3. Question of dignity:
Exclusion, especially when combined with discrimination or deprivation in some form, brings into sharp focus the question of human dignity. Denial of entry or exclusion is a clear assault on human dignity. Perhaps denial of basic human dignity is the most fundamental problem of Indian society. We are used to inequalities unmindful of its deleterious effects or inherent injustice. In different ways though, but most people take it as natural. It may be due to poverty of some, difference in social status, and other factors, but its worst manifestation has been the practice of untouchability.
Apartheid has been another well known kind of exclusion which is characterized by segregation leading to deprivation of many kinds. Practice of exclusion however has prevailed in all societies and all ages in varying forms. State politics till very recently, prior to the advent of democracy, was an exclusive affair of a few. Slaves in ancient Greece were excluded from all privileges enjoyed by the free citizens. In colonial times in India and many other colonies clubs were invariably 'exclusive', barring the entry of natives.
There could be somewhat non-discriminatory kinds of exclusions as well. For example, men may be excluded from women's world in numerous ways, in their festivals, even in their daily chores, and many more female activities. Likewise it is not uncommon for the lower caste people to conduct their affairs in privacy excluding outsiders.
4. Equity and justice
Discriminatory exclusion inevitably entails denial of justice, and another term that becomes relevant in this context is equity. Equity in the legal sense is seen as ‘a branch of law based on natural justice, to be used when existing laws would be unfair and inappropriate’. That is why in common parlance or as it is defined in the dictionary it means ‘the quality of being fair and impartial’. To that extent its meaning is different, and possibly more nuanced than equality. The idea of justice and fairness is added on to a rather flexible notion of equality, less mechanical and more contextualized. While the meaning given to equality is more dependent on ‘sameness’ or ‘evenly balanced’, fairness and due correction to the mechanical interpretation of equality are germane to the concept of equity.
5. Denial of rights and opportunities
Another perspective which has a large acceptance today is in relation to rights and opportunities. Starting with Universal Declaration of Human Rights the idea of universality of a set of rights has caught on, and often brought on to statute books. For example in India many of the rights were included in the Indian constitution, mostly in the third part as fundamental rights, and some in the fourth part as directive principles of state policy. Subsequently through legislations many more rights have been given a legal sanction.
Scheduled castes and women constitute two obvious groups that are systematically excluded from enjoying a number of rights and opportunities available to other members of Hindu society. With a little more effort one can identify many more categories like tribals or minorities or peasants and more. In deed this understanding of the term leads researchers readily into discussion of 'civil society' and to modern notions of citizenship.
6. Ideology and exclusion
Most situations of exclusion are derived from some ideology, social or otherwise, explicit or implicit. Ideology could be a camouflage for protecting the privileges of a few, against the claims of many. Notion of pollution and purity is such an ideology prevalent for ages in the Hindu society. This concept may be extended to the minorities as perceived by members of Hindu society- mlechchas is a generic description for such groups. Patriarchy is again a kind of ideology, which debars women in a number of ways.
Gramsci has postulated the concept of hegemony based on ideological control, along with other means of control through force, that is domination, to ensure subjugation of groups or even nations.3
Political determinates of ideology, consequential perception of exclusion and politics of identity have become a widespread phenomenon in recent times
Another meaning that can be given to the term exclusion is marginalization, as a process as well as its exclusionary consequences. At the social level it may be the result of a set of social practices, say for example, the practice of untouchability, or certain principles like the pollution-purity concept in the Hindu society, or structural features of a society, like caste system, for example. It may correlate with iniquitous economic arrangements, or asymmetric distribution of power in the society. For example, in the Hindu society caste identity has been traditionally tied with occupational background. Political and economic power has largely remained in the hands of upper caste groups, of course, if members of lower or middle castes were able to grab powers, often Brahmins were willing to confer on them Ksatriya status.
8. Exploitation and Oppression as a form of Exclusion
Exploitation and oppression also marks some group out and excludes them and prevents them from enjoying normally fruits of their labour. It is thus a form of exclusion, which ahs been the main subject of Marxist analysis. Marxism provides both a framework of analysis of exploitation and exclusion and an ideology of resistance against that. Quite often the victims of social exclusion are also subjected to economic exploitation. They reinforce each other, and which should get our first attention is clearly a subject of debate.
9. Dimensions, Typology and Analytical Framework
In fact the concept of exclusion itself can be examined at two levels, which may be described as descriptive and analytical respectively. Descriptive understanding of exclusion comprises locating and describing the features of exclusion, discrimination or disadvantage. It helps us to know the nature of exclusion, which may be many and varied, possibly leading to some classifications or working out a typology. At a deeper level an analytical understanding of exclusion could be built by examining its underlying reasons and logic.
Even descriptively speaking, exclusion is a multidimensional reality, but in relation to different excluded groups one or the other feature may be central and predominant. While it is commonest to speak of the situation of social exclusion, with cultural dimension implicit therein, economic exclusion has received greater attention in the discussions on exploitation and oppression. Dalit exclusion is, to begin with, a social exclusion, while issues of poverty and deprivation are issues of economic exclusion. Political dimension of exclusion is either clearly expressed in relation to state power or remains dispersed in a subtle manner in all kinds of human transactions. In the context of democracy, issues relating representation become crucial, reservation has often been a contentious issue.
Unequal distribution of status and privileges, combined with some discriminatory practices result in social exclusion of some groups, untouchables for example constitute the most excluded category in the Hindu society. Unequal distribution of income, wealth, resources and opportunities push out some people to poverty and likewise uneven dispersal of political power again make some groups more vulnerable. Apart from state-related context there are other forms of power in other domains, be it a village or merely the family setting, where unevenness of its distribution confer privileges or create vulnerabilities.
10. Inclusion Today
Inclusion is the converse of exclusion, generally articulated through a conscious design. It is likely to be in the form of affirmative action of some kind. The neologism of inclusion perhaps started in the education sector. In Salamanca Declaration of 1994 there was a call for improvement in the general education system ‘to enable them to include all children regardless of individual differences and difficulties’. Even as the declaration was mainly meant for the disabled children the Framework of Action has used both the terms-‘all’ and ‘special educational needs’:
……. schools should accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. This should include disabled and gifted children, street and working children, children from remote and nomadic populations, children from linguistic, ethnic or cultural minorities and children from other disadvantaged or marginalized areas or groups… There is an emerging consensus that children and youth with special educational needs should be included in the educational arrangements made for the majority of children. This has led to the concept of inclusive school4 (UNESCO,1994,p.6)
Today this concept gets applied to many other areas. If eleventh plan document enunciates the goal of inclusive growth, we talk about creating an inclusive society in a holistic sense. If inclusive growth is an agenda which seeks to ensure that benefits of development accrue to the largest section of population, creation of an inclusive society may not be much different from the modernist agenda of a just society as envisioned in the constitution. On the one hand it implies that eradication of traditional discriminations and inequalities particularly based on caste, on the other side it also entails the idea of introduction of a modern citizenship. As for the former implication, inclusiveness may involve the principle of rejection of exclusion that is characteristic of the Indian society which is caste-based and hierarchical in its arrangement. The idea of pollution-purity and the practice of untouchability are the worst features of Hindu society, which must be rejected unequivocally. However, the modernizing intent of inclusiveness has a different character.
11. Question of Identity
The identities surely got redefined in the years of working of Indian democracy, but identities based on primordial loyalties did not define according to the script of the modernists or those who drew up Indian constitution. On the one hand inbuilt exclusions of the Hindu caste system did not go away as visualized, on the other hand, competitive electoral politics turned out to be very important factor, particularly in redefining the role of caste, ethnicity and religion. Khilnani refers to the ‘politics of identity’ as a form of representation distinct from the ones visualized by Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar or Azad5. Yet even the brand of politics that is followed does not eliminate discrimination or exclusionary practices completely. There are several distortions in the operation of secular institutions either due to societal factors or their inherent inefficacy and the two are apparently interlinked. Alongside persistent social discrimination, may be a little reduced, there is a continued exclusion in the economic or many other vital domains of human activity. The present society is neither modernized as visualized earlier, nor made more inclusive.
12. Positive or protective discrimination:
If the excluded are to be brought on par and assured entry into the mainstream or the principle of equity is to extend to cover those who are on the margins, one more principle enunciated in the Indian constitution is that of positive discrimination. There are some other terms almost synonymously used and Galanter's observations in this regard is worth quoting:
"The Mandal report can serve as a convenient marker along the winding path followed by India's 'affirmative action' policies. The ambiguities that have bedeviled these policies are reflected in the uncertainty about their name. Originally, the overall policy was nameless, the various measures that embodied it were referred to as 'reservations' or 'special treatment' or 'preferential treatment' or 'concessions'. Most of those writing about it have been content to label it 'reservations' without connecting that device to any wider principle or goal. In the 1950s Professor Alexandrowicz proposed 'protective discrimination', and this has been taken up by some writers on the subject and is raised in the courts. My later proposal of 'compensatory discrimination' gained some currency, particularly among the comparativists, but also remained a niche term. There are others like 'positive discrimination', ' benign discrimination', and 'reverse discrimination'; many writers and judges use more than one of these terms treating them as synonyms. All seem fated to be overwhelmed by the borrowed American term 'affirmative action', which began to be used in the early 1980s."6
14. Education, a contested terrain and question of hegemony and domination
If we look upon education as a part of social formation, the phrase taken in a broad sense including socio-economic and political order, then the question of creation and control of knowledge and the idea of hegemony come up immediately. Several scholars from Marx to Friere to Pierre Bourdieu to Krishna Kumar have grappled with these dilemmas. Education has been viewed by them as a site of ideological contest. Marx averred that "the class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control over the means of material production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it."7 In the 20th century how technology and bureaucratic mechanism are deployed to establish hegemony has been explored and commented upon by many including analysts like Adorno or Marcuse. Marcuse explained at length how people are deprived of criticality in the society, a scheme built up by technology, mass media, cultural symbols, education etc8. Post modernism however challenged the notion of a hegemonic meta-knowledge. Foucault, for example. observes,"…the exercise of power perpetually creates knowledge and, conversely, knowledge constantly induces effects of power…Diffused, entrenched and dangerous, they operate in other places than in the person of the old professor…It is not possible for power to operate without knowledge, it is impossible for knowledge not to endanger power."9
Krishna Kumar10, Anil Sadgopal11 and many others have elaborately discussed how education is intimately related to politics in society, and how there has remained a constant struggle between the dominant discourse and those at the margins. Whenever we examine the scheme state-sponsored system of education or education designed by organised religious denominations, we need to take into account the perspectives from the people at the margins, in terms of class, caste or gender etc. The issues of exclusion or deprivation in education is inevitably linked with choice of knowledge to be privileged in education or space provided or agency allowed to these sections of population.
Both Gandhi and Ambedkar had noted the importance of education in contesting the basis of exclusion. Gandhi designed his own model of basic education, which sought to modify the conventional hierarchy of knowledge system. Ambedkar exhorted his followers to seek education and organize themselves.
15. Human Development Approach
At the global level focus on human development and human rights offers a comprehensive strategy for inclusive development not only in the economic domain, but elsewhere too. According to Fukuda-Parr and Shiva Kumar, "The term human development has come to be accepted in the development economics literature as am expansion of human capabilities, a widening of choices, an enhancement of freedoms and a fulfillment of human rights."12
Human development approach accepts that income expansion matters but only when it improves quality of life. Human development is motivated by a concern for freedom, well-being and the dignity of individuals in the society. A major concern of human development has been with poverty, which in turn means "the denial of choices and opportunities for a tolerable life" (Human Development Report 1997, chapter 1.4). HDR 2000 explores the interconnections between human rights and human development. On the other side the agenda of human rights has also widened considerably since UDHR 1948, and in the Geneva Declaration of 1993 development was clearly recognized as a human rights issue. These formulations open up both possibilities- bringing human beings at the centre of development discourse thus humanizing the concept of growth, as also defining the rights of excluded communities in matters of development and more. Thus the idea of creating an inclusive society can be pursued vigorously through such a policy paradigm.
I. Social Exclusion: Conceptual Issues
1. Piron, L & Curran ,Z. Public Policy Response to Exclusion: Evidence from Brazil, South Africa and India, Overseas Development Institute, Sept 2005
2. Dalits and the Right to Food: Discrimination and Exclusion in Food Related Government Programs ,Working Paper by Lee, Joel & Thorat, Sukhadeo
3. Gramsci, Antonio Selections from the Prison Notebooks, International Publishers, New York 1971
4. Salamanca Declaration 1994, UNESCO
5. Khilnani, Sunil The Idea of India, Penguin Books, London (1998)
6. Galanter, Marc The Long half-life of Reservations in Zoya Hasan, Sridhran,E. Sudarshan,R. (eds) India’s Living Constitution, Ideas, Practices, Controversies, Permament Black, Delhi (2002)
7. Marx, Karl The German Ideology , Moscow: Progress Publishers (1968)
8. Marcuse, Herbert One Dimensional Man London: Abacus (1972)
9. Foucault, Michel Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977 London: Harvester Wheatsheaf (1980)
10. Kumar, Krishna Social Character of Learning, SAGE Publications, New Delhi/ Thousand Oaks/London, (1989)
11. Sadgopal, Anil Globalization: Demystifying its Knowledge Agenda for India's Education Policy (Durgabai Deshmukh Memorial Lecture) New Delhi: Council for Social Development (2004)
12. Fukuda-Parr, Sakiko and Shiva Kumar, A.K.(eds) Introduction in Readings in Human Development , Oxford University Press, New Delhi (Second edition, 2005)
II Status of Education among Children from SC Households
Bihar- Profile & Potentials
Bihar is considered as one of the most backward states in the country. It stands at the lowest rung in respect of almost all indicators of human development, included those relating to education. At the time of independence the literacy rate in Bihar was 16.7 percent as against national average of 18.2 percent. According to 2001 census while the country's literacy rate rose to 65.38 percent, in Bihar it was below half way mark at 47.53 percent only It is the most populated state after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra with a population of about 829 lakhs (2001 Census).It is predominantly an agrarian society with about 89 percent population staying in the villages where illiteracy, poverty and unemployment is rampant.
Bihar is rated as backward on almost all key parameters of economic development currently in vogue, and yet nobody would deny the tremendous potential that the state has for growth and development. Further, many social scientists from the state would be at pains to explain the indirect ways in which Bihar contributes to the country’s economy and well being. Persons of Bihar excel in different field and in different lands, but something is amiss right here which needs to be probed and rectified. Education arguably can be the best means to remedy the situation.
Such a situation as outlined above makes for a turbulent society where urgent social interventions are called for and curriculum for the state therefore needs to be designed keeping these factors in view. Fortunately, there are rich cultural and political resources available which can be used in taking the state beyond the present morass. If a very rich Mithila culture exists in the eastern part of north Bihar, western side is part of large Bhojpuri speaking region spreading beyond the state. Magadh region has its own language and culture, and so has the areas around Bhagalpur where a distinct angika is the lingua franca. Each region has its own repertoire of different genres of arts, its own sense of cultural and historical identity. In a sense Bihar is the microcosm of India with its own version of multiculturalism.
In terms of political consciousness society is alert and active, albeit not always in a responsible manner. Energies of people needs to be channelised and schools can be the most appropriate sites of training.
Scheduled castes: The Most Excluded Category
The Scheduled Castes constitute about 16.48 percent of India's population. They have suffered the curse of untouchability and are discriminated against socially, economically and educationally for ages. They are denied access to land and often even water, which is the bounty of nature, due to the machinations of society. Dalits, i.e. the Scheduled Castes or “untouchables” suffer most acutely from the social and economic violence of the caste system, which prescribes their position at the bottom of the graded hierarchy. As Lee and Thorat observe, "Dalits in Indian society negotiate social and economic transactions in many spheres of life from this inherited position at the bottom, while in other spheres “untouchability” excludes them from transactions with dominant caste society altogether." They are still forced to work in degrading conditions even after over six decades of independence and all constitutional promises.
In the state of Bihar the total SC population is 13,048,608 as per 2001 census constituting 15.7 percent of the total population of 82,998,509. The state ranks third in terms of SC population among all states and UTs. The growth of SC population during 1991-2001 has been 30.7 percent, which is 2.1 percent higher than the growth of total population (28.6 percent). This itself is an indicator of the backwardness of the group. In fact in the first census after independence in 1951 the SC population accounted for 12.6 percent of the total population (5,057,812 out of 40,225,947).Even if we take into account the increase in SC population after creation of Jharkhand the rate of growth of population among SCs haas been a little higher than general population.
The state has a total of twenty three categories of SCs enumerated in the 2001 census. The overall sex ratio of the SC population in Bihar is 923 females per 1000 male population which is lower than the national average of 936 in respect of all SCs. The literacy rate among SCs of Bihar is dismally low at a mere 28.5 percent during 2001 census, which is nearly half of that recorded for all SCs at the national level (54.7 percent). The male and female literacy rates are 40.2 percent and 15.6 percent respectively against the corresponding national figures of 66.6 and 41.9 percent. Thus while SCs lag behind non-SCs all over the country, the Bihar scenario is even more disconcerting. Among the numerically larger sub-caste groups Dhobis have the highest literacy rate (including female literacy) followed by Pasi, Dusadh and Chamar. Musahars have shown the lowest literacy rate.
Among the literates, 39.7 percent of SCs are either without any educational level or have attained education below primary level. The proportion of literates who have education up primary or middle level constitute 28.4 percent and 13.1 percent respectively. A meager 15.1 percent of literates have education up to matriculation or senior secondary level. The percentage of graduates and above is only 3.6 percent, while non-technical and technical diploma holders constitute a meager 0.1 percent. These data reveal that even if some literacy has been achieved the educational level is low and largely unproductive. As a study of impact of formal education on dalits in Bijnor district of U.P. shows that the educated youth initially perceived education as a means for getting 'respectable' jobs, but failing to get jobs they felt frustrated and even the parents reportedly began to withdraw from investing in education subsequently. The situation may not be very different in Bihar. The low level and low quality of education wipes out much of the assumed advantages of education.
Bottom of the pyramid
Recently the Government of Bihar notified some castes as Mahadalits and drew up special programmes for their upliftment. Initially 19 out of 23 castes, excluding 4 castes, namely, dhobi, chamar, pasi, and paswan, were notified as Mahadalits. This characterization covered musahars, scavenging community, nats, bhuiyan, bantar, halakhor etc and their literacy was 10.54% (M: 15.63, F:5.08) in 2001 census. Musahars, with a population of 35 lakh, had a literacy rate of mere 6.88%, followed by scavenging community with 12.42 % literacy. However, two of the four groups earlier excluded from the classification of mahadalits , namely, dhobi and chamar, have since been included.
As one moves from dalits to mahadalits there is a drop in literacy and educational achievements and if one thinks of a dalit girl child born in a mahadalit family, one hits the rock bottom. What meaning does the constitutional promise has for her? None at all. If she is born in Bihar, the odds are more heavily against her.
Literacy & Educational Level
As noted before the literacy rate among SCs of Bihar was dismally low at a mere 28.5 percent during 2001 census, which is nearly half of that recorded for all SCs at the national level (54.7 percent). The male and female literacy rates are 40.2 percent and 15.6 percent respectively against the corresponding national figures of 66.6 and 41.9 percent. Among the literates, 39.7 percent of SCs are either without any educational level or have attained education below primary level. The proportion of literates who have education up primary or middle level constitute 28.4 percent and 13.1 percent respectively. And think of it, it is no minuscule share of population. The Scheduled castes account for 15.7% of the total population of Bihar and about half of then are female. Even as we take note of the recent reports and studies that parental interest in education has grown rapidly, which is reflected in a general decline of never-enrolled children in schools, we are constrained to admit that this change reaches the girl child last and rather sluggishly. They are doubly jeopardized first as dalits and then as girls, and if we follow the Gandhian prescription of sparing a thought for the last man, she is the most obvious candidate for our attention. If the state happens to be Bihar, then perhaps there is nothing further down to look into. She is in deed the last person.
Education among the major Scheduled Castes
Among the numerically larger castes, Dhobi have registered the highest overall literacy rate as well as female literacy rate followed by Pasi, Dusadh and Chamar, Mushar have shown the lowest literacy rate.
Literacy Rate All SCs (Bihar) Dhobi Pasi Dusadh Chamar Bhuiya Musahar
Male 28.5 43.9 40.6 33.0 32.1 13.3 9
Female 15.6 27.9 25.3 18.15 16.8 6.5 3.9
Literacy Rate (Census of India, 2001 Office of the Registrar General, India)
As noted earlier among the literates, 39.7% of SCs are either without any educational level or have attained education below primary level. The proportion of literates who have attained education up to primary and middle level constitute 28.4% & 13.1% respectively. As many as 15.1% literates are educated up to matric / secondary / higher secondary, etc. Graduates & above are 3.6% while non-technical & technical diploma holders constituted a meager 0.1% only.
Among the major sub-castes, Dhobi have the higher proportion of matriculates (19.7%) whereas Musahar and Bhuiya have the lowest proportion of matriculates (6% each). Chamar has every 7th literate, a matriculate, whereas Dusadh and Pasi have every 6th literate, a matriculate.
It may be discerned from the educational levels attained by the all SCs, that the drop-out rate is high after primary level as the percentage of middle level literates is less than half of the primary level literates. Number of students decline sharply from secondary level onwards.
Educational Levels attained
Primary Middle Matric / Secondary/ Higher Secondary / Intermediate etc. Technical & Non- Technical diploma etc. Graduate and above
All Schedule Caste 6.6 33.1 28.4 13.1 15.1 0.1 3.6
Bhuiya 15.3 44.1 26.5 7.4 6 Nil 0.6
Chamar 5.9 33.6 28.5 13.4 15 0.1 3.5
Dhobi 4.5 28.3 27 14.9 19.7 0.2 5.4
Dusadh 6 32 28.5 13.7 16.1 0.1 3.5
Musahar 15.3 44 27.8 6.7 5.5 Nil 0.8
Pasi 5.7 30 27.1 13.4 17.9 0.2 5.6
Out of the total 38.8 lakh SC children in the age 5-14 years, 11.4 lakh attend school constituting 29.4%. Alarmingly, as many as 70.6% (27.4 lakh) children in the corresponding age group do not go to school. Among the major SCs, Dhobi have the highest share of school going children followed by Pasi, Dusadh and Chamar.
Recent Progress or Lack of Progress
As DISE data available with BEPC reveal that despite significant increase in enrollment of all children as well as SC children the gap between the two does not narrow down over a period of seven years. While gender gap reduces during this period, social gap does not.
As on 30th Sept. 2002 As on 30th Sept. 2009
Population (6-14) Enrolment %age Population
(6-13+) Enrolment %age
Total: 19414505 10397449 54% 20797574 19092050 92%
Boys: 10307119 6052702 59% 11016662 10019227 91%
Girls: 9107386 4344747 48% 9780912 9072823 93%
SC: 3157713 1688814 53% 4143437 3544014 86%
Indicators Status (2002) Current Status (2009) Expected Status by (2010)
Gender Gap: 11% -2% 0%
Social Gap (SC): 1% 6% 2%
III Rationale & Methodology for the Study Project
Almost all empirical studies in the field of primary education in different parts of the country demonstrate the fact that the social status in terms of caste affects the schooling pattern of SC children. SC children have low chance of enrollment, grade attainment and completion of primary education. (Jha and Jhingran 2002)
The impediments to education are faced by SC children at various levels; household, community and School through several factors as: inability to meet schooling cost (loss of economic work), Physical segregation (isolation of SC habitations on one end of villages), social isolation, caste discrimination at schools leading to hesitation and diffidence towards education etc.
India's concerns for the welfare of the weaker sections of the Indian society, has been reflected in Article 46 of the Constitution, which states that the State will promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker section of the Indian society, specially the Scheduled Tribes (ST) & Scheduled Castes (SC). The welfare of the SC & ST has been generally made the responsibility of the State Governments. Over the past five year Bihar has improved significantly on some of the developmental indicators. In 2005, when the first survey was carried by Sarva Shisha Abihyan, to identify children who are out of school (OOS), Bihar was the second worst performer in terms of OOS children -- 31.7 lakh constituting 17% of children in the state in the 6-14 age group. Now in 2009, it is claimed to have come down to only 13.15 lakh. In percentage terms, this is just 7% of 6-14 child population. Bihar's success story is often ascribed to large teacher recruitment, and other specific efforts to attract children of marginal communities and girl child. Still a lot more needs to be done to improve enrolment or quality of education among SC children.
In the light of relative success and limitations of these efforts made by the state government there is a need to explore the factors and processes, which are state specific and affecting the educational processes of dalit children especially in areas with higher concentration of dalit population. The issues concerning the education processes of will be studied on three aspects of education: household, community, and schooling issues. This is to understand the extent and trends pertaining to the exclusion of SC children from educational system. It will analyze the special needs of SC children and recommend measures to overcome the obstacles at policy and program level. The study findings will be based on both secondary and primary sources of data. Based on the study report a policy framework will be prepared.
The present study will explore and take into account the factors and processes leading to educational exclusion of SC children. A new opportunity is provided by the RTE 2009 to tackle the issues of exclusion of dalit children from educational processes. It is evident from various studies that unless and until the educational needs of dalit children are adequately addressed it will not be possible to implement inclusive education policy in its true sense..
Apart from making use of existing studies and grass roots experiences the study and policy framework is being prepared on the basis of primary and secondary data on the issues of social exclusion of dalit children in the state.
To identify the factors and processes of social exclusion in educational opportunities of SC children.
To identify the provisions of RTE 2009 which can help in ushering in an inclusive kind of education in favour of SC children
To examine the status and processes in schools and other support institutions to understand the dynamics of social exclusion.
To identify key issues, possible delivery agents and stakeholders which may enable inclusion of SC children
To examine and suggest ways for ensuring equal and adequate participation of SC children in educational system.
The study entailed the following
Study of schools & other support Institutions
Workshop & process study
Focus group discussion
Individual /semi structured interviews
Consultation at State level:
The survey of schools took place in three districts of Bihar, namely, Vaishali, Madhubani and Rohtas covering 40 schools of which 12 were located in Dalit bastis. Household surveys, focus group discussion, and interviews were other tools to assess the ground situation and formulate recommendations.
IV. Recent Programmes and Policies
While in the years after independence a variety of programmes have been made for the education of dalits, their success is at best partial. Even otherwise the constitutional promise of universal education remains a distant dream, with children from marginalized sections
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is the flagship of the government for promoting the cause of universal elementary education in the country. Although the targets set initially for the Abhiyan have apparently not been achieved, (after all by 2005, it was promised that all children will complete five years of schooling), there have been notable success stories from across states, not excluding Bihar. Yet the goal is still elusive. SSA also promised gender parity and closing of gaps between classes at the primary level by 2007 and at the middle level by 2010, but again the success is partial at best. In Bihar SSA was introduced in 17 districts in 2001-02 itself in continuation of DPEP and was extended to cover all districts in the following year.
After a period of relative neglect the idea of universal school education started getting more attention since the adoption of the national Policy of Education in 1986. Of the various central schemes launched thereafter Operation Blackboard (OB) deserves special mention. The OB scheme was introduced in 1987-88 with a view to provide minimum standard of infrastructural facilities to all existing primary schools. The minimum norms prescribed under OB was at least two reasonably large all-weather rooms along with verandah and separate toilet facilities for boys and girls, at least two teachers including as far as possible one woman, and essential teaching learning materials including blackboards, maps, charts, small library, toys and games and some equipment for work experience. subsequently it was decided to add a third room/teacher to primary schools where enrolment exceeded 100, and further the scheme was extended to cover upper primary schools as well. While OB was not faithfully carried out, a new exercise was undertaken to lay down norms and compute the expected expenditure. Saikia Committee took it up in 1996, while three years later Tapas Mazumdar Committee took up a more thorough exercise. The focus soon shifted to the larger programme, that was, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan from the year 2000.
When SSA was launched all the ongoing programmes and schemes were brought under its umbrella including Non-formal education (NFE), OB, then District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) etc. Nonetheless a careful examination of SSA norms as well as style of implementation reveals that it was simply not enough for improving quality of education, particularly for the weaker sections of the society. In principle the SSA allows for wide-ranging interventions including institutional reforms particularly in management and delivery, sustainable financing, community ownership and capacity building. In order to ensure quality improvement and social change through education, the mobilization of 'disadvantaged groups in the planning process' is emphasized and decentralized educational planning and community-based monitoring is postulated. The document also proposes task force for monitoring the participation of girls, SCs and STs and calls for improved resource targeting in their favour. But the actual implementation overlooks these commitments, except their ritualistic mention now and then. To put it blandly there was not much for dalits or girl child in SSA at the ground level, rather a parallel track of education was continued and legitimized with the sanction for under-qualified lowly paid teacher and many more compromises. Providing textbooks free to these children was not adequate, if the basic quality of education remains indifferent. In fact SSA has drawn flak for giving a formal acceptance to large-scale recruitment of para-teachers. The consequences of these developments according to Govinda are:
"First, it hides the real magnitude of the problem to be addressed in the long run, in financial terms; secondly. it distorts the shape of the budget by projecting teacher salary which should in the normal course be part of the recurring expenditure as plan expenditure, unlikely to be absorbed as non-plan component as they (the para-teachers recruited through SSA funds are on contract basis; and third, this places the evolution and strengthening of a professional community of teachers in serious jeopardy."
In fact it is not only the issue of teachers' salary or inadequate infrastructure, rather the question of mindset. At best the state is willing to grant that some provision for education needs to be made for the poor which generally includes Dalits. Even calculations based on the norms of Tapas Mazumdar Committee were diluted further regarding infrastructure or PTR or teachers' qualifications etc under SSA. A decade back Tapas Mazumdar Committee had assumed a salary level of Rupees 5000 per month for a primary school teacher, just after Fifth Central Pay Commission recommendations. Even after Sixth Pay Commission which has given a huge increase in the salary of government employees, Government of Bihar has recruited primary teachers at the meager salary of Rupees four thousand only. The question of dual salary structure in the same institution is no less debilitating. The alternative educational arrangements like Residential Bridge Courses or National Child Labour Project provide for still lower wages to instructors making a complete mockery of education of the poor, who in deed need much better arrangements given the difficulties in their education. This mindset is questionable and against the constitutional principles enshrined in Part III, which promises equality of opportunity, and now right to education as well. If right to live has been interpreted by the Supreme Court as right to live with dignity, right to education can mean nothing less than a proper quality education for all, and for the deprived sections in particular. No ad hoc arrangements can be sufficient when we are dealing with the making of future generations and the future society of India.
Right to Education Act and Dalit Child
The Act is apparently not drafted in the rights perspective because rights are neither clearly formulated with appropriate safeguards, nor it applies to all children, nor adequate provisions are made to translate them into reality. If elementary education was being made a fundamental right then a clear declaration of the right and explicit assignment of specific responsibility with adequate safeguards and clauses to ensure its enforcement were essential requirements. On the contrary rights have been truncated, responsibilities made vague and unenforceable and safeguards claimed to have been provided are nothing more than ritualistic.
There is no comprehensive and unified framework of schools visualized in the Act which may have been called a Common School System. Not only there are different types of schools with different scales of responsibility, there is little to suggest a design of a equitable, common and complete framework. The net result of the provision on this subject will be the perpetuation and legitimization of the currently prevailing hierarchy of schools, some meant for privileged classes and others for the poor classes. This violates both Article 14 (equality before law) and Article 21A (Right to Education) of the Constitution. Establishment of a Common School System in India is surely the most logical and equitable option available, if the State intends to strictly adhere to these fundamental rights in the Constitution.
As for the disadvantaged sections the Act has a condescending tone rather than enunciation of a a right to equal opportunities in education, not to speak of an extra attention, under the constitutional promise of positive discrimination or affirmative action in their favour.
The specific goal of SSA during the Tenth Plan included among other things the "Bridging of all gender and social gaps at primary stage by 2007 and at elementary level by 2010. SSA interventions, as Eleventh Plan document says have brought down the number of out of school children from 32 million in 2001-02 to 7.0 million in 2006-07. An independent study of Social and Research Institute (2005) estimated that about 6.9% of total children in the 6-13 age group were out of school, but social composition of out of school children still reveals a predominance of Muslims, dalits and adivasis. According to Plan their respective figures are 9.97%, 8.17% and 9.54% respectively. Bihar alone accounts for 23.6% of out of school children in the country. The drop out rate at primary level among SC children in the country remains as high as 34.2%.
Eleventh Plan document sets some targets for elementary education like universal enrolment for all children including hard to reach groups and closing of gaps by 2011-12, reduction of drop out rates, universalization of MDMs by 2008-09, etc, but the main emphasis seems to be on quality improvement. Of course some special interventions are proposed for disadvantaged groups.
More ambitious changes are proposed for Universal access and quality at the secondary stage including revamping of ICT in schools, expansion of facilities for teacher education or strengthening of various types of support institutions. Thoroughgoing changes are being introduced for expansion of higher and technical education too. All these will require policy level changes, revamping of institutional set up and larger financial support.
As for financing of Education the government was committed to raise it to 6% of GDP which remains unrealized. For accelerating public expenditure the Central Budget of 2004 introduced a cess of 2% for elementary education and Budget 2007 a cess of 1% for secondary and higher education. A commensurate increase in the central public expenditure and the devolution on a lagging state like Bihar has not materialized. The total Eleventh Plan expenditure proposed in the document is Rs 2.70 lakh crore at current prices (Rs 2.37 lakh crore at 2006-07 prices). It is neither clear nor likely that Bihar gets its legitimate share in education during the plan period, which should be higher than its proportionate share if the state has to move up from its present lowly level.
Eleventh Plan document rightly notes that 'Young learners from socially marginalized sections experience education in a distinctly different form than those who occupy mainstream positions of power and privilege. They face overt and covert forms of rejection in schools.' The Plan goes on to promise a special focus on disadvantaged groups and educationally backward areas. The focus however includes 'not only higher resource allocation but also capacity building for preparation and implementation of strategies based on identified needs, more intensive monitoring and supervision, and tracking of progress.' A close look at the policy framework belies the promise, even as the promise itself is not more than inadequate and partial. The per capita allocation of gross resources for the disadvantaged groups can not match the ever increasing educational costs being incurred by the privileged sections, particularly of those studying in public schools. No systemic change is proposed in the Plan, and the stratified educational system is a device of not only perpetuating the inequalities, but also exacerbating them.
V. Findings of Study
Apart from survey of school household level data were collected followed by a focus group discussion. Interviews of stakeholders were also conducted, persons included were parents/guardians, representatives of PRIs/VSS, and children. Significant conclusions can be drawn from all these which can both understand the ground reality and devise a realistic strategy for the educational inclusion of children from SC families.
A brief report is given below.
A. Survey of Schools
Among the 40 schools surveyed 34 were government schools while remaining 6 were private schools. Of these 12 were situated in dalit bastis (7 primary, 5 middle). A break up of types of schools is given in Tables 1 & 2
Habitation Primary Middle Total
Dalit 7 5 12
Near Dalit 7 8 15
OBC 1 0 1
FC 0 4 4
Slum 2 1 3
Near Slum 1 4 5
Total 18 22 40
Primary Middle Total (P+M)
Rural Urban Total Rural Urban Total Rural Urban Total
Govt. 13 2 15 15 4 19 28 6 34
Pvt. 1 2 3 2 1 3 3 3 6
Total 14 4 18 17 5 22 31 9 40
Tables 3 Status of Schools
Pakka Kachcha Adha N.Avl. Y N
Primary 7 3 0 2 2 5 2
Middle 5 2 0 3 0 5 0
Total 12 5 0 5 2 10 2
As Table 3 shows of the 12 schools in dalit basti 2 did not have any building and 5 had only half kachcha building. In fact no other type of schools lacked buildings as such, while only 2 more schools had half kachcha building. Of course regarding the availability of land private schools were badly placed and half of the six schools do not have land.
Data was collected for may other facilities but neglect of schools primarily meant for dalit children was too glaring to be missed. Ordinarily government schools both had land and pucca buildings except for schools in dalit bastis. Of the other government schools only at one place land was unavailable in urban area, while at one place each in rural and urban area building was only half pucca.
Private(U+R) 6 3 0 3 0 3 3
Dalit 12 5 0 5 2 10 2
Rural(Govt) 16 15 0 1 0 16 0
Urban(Govt) 6 5 0 1 0 5 1
Total 40 28 0 10 2 34 6
Enrollment & Attendance (Boys & Girls)
In terms of attendance the status of dalit children is quite unsatisfactory with less than 43% of enrolled children attending schools on the day of visit of the survey team, while private schools stand out with their high rate of attendance. even in government urban schools attendance is low, presumably because children from lower classes attend these schools. for others somewhat better quality private schools are available in towns unlike villages.
Tables 5 : Enrollment & Attendance (Boys & Girls)
Private(U+R) 6 1024 866 84.57
Dalit 12 3396 1453 42.786
Rural(Govt) 16 5887 3542 60.166
Urban(Govt) 6 3236 1483 45.828
Total 40 13543 7344 54.227
Tables 6: Teachers
Primary 5 22 4 0 11 7 0 2 4 18
Middle 9 90 62 3 64 15 5 27 33 57
Total 14 112 66 3 75 22 5 29 37 75
Primary 9 38 21 0 29 6 3 10 13 25
Middle 7 80 33 0 58 7 23 18 51 29
Total 16 118 54 0 87 13 26 28 64 54
Primary 4 10 8 2 7 5 1 3 3 7
Middle 6 59 11 0 48 10 5 27 22 37
Total 10 69 19 2 55 15 6 30 25 44
Primary 18 70 33 2 47 18 4 15 20 50
Middle 22 229 106 3 170 32 33 72 106 123
Total 40 299 139 5 217 50 37 87 126 173
Tables 7 Status of School as norms of RTE
Teacher HM(full time) Part time tch
Teacher Requi. Less Yes No Required Less
Primary 7 1125 21 38 17 0 7 0 0
Middle 5 2205 41 63 22 2 3 15 15
Total 12 3330 62 101 39 2 10 15 15
Primary 14 2443 47 83 37 0 14 0 0
Middle 17 6003 151 173 38 9 8 51 44
P+M 31 8446 198 256 75 9 22 51 44
Primary 4 867 23 26 7 1 3 0 0
Middle 5 2770 49 81 35 3 2 15 12
P+M 9 3637 72 107 42 4 5 15 12
Private(U+R) 6 808 49 25 0 4 2 9 0
Dalit 12 3330 62 101 39 2 10 15 15
Rural(Govt) 16 4818 109 145 36 5 11 30 29
Urban(Govt) 6 3127 50 92 42 2 4 12 12
Total 40 12083 270 363 117 13 27 66 56
As the above table shows there is a shortage of teachers of about 35% in government schools, in dalit schools it is a little higher at 38.6%. However the gap is higher in primary schools and is likely to go up at middle level when more schools are upgraded or opened. Surprisingly the shortage is lower in rural government schools (24.8%), but much higher in urban government schools (45.6%). Calculations have been made according to the norms laid down in RTE 2009.
Next table shows that other facilities in dalit schools are also lacking, for example , separate kitchen or separate toilets for girls or doors. In fact the position is worse in dalit schools compared to others.
Tables 8 Facilities in School according to standard of RTE
Traveling faci. Sep. Kichen Sep. Toilet Door
Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No
Primary 7 6 1 2 5 2 5 2 5
Middle 5 5 0 3 2 3 2 3 2
Total 12 11 1 5 7 5 7 5 7
Primary 14 12 2 4 10 6 8 6 8
Middle 17 15 2 11 6 12 5 12 5
P+M 31 27 4 15 16 18 13 18 13
Private(U+R) 6 4 2 2 4 4 2 5 1
Dalit 12 11 1 5 7 5 7 5 7
Rural(Govt) 16 14 2 10 6 10 6 10 6
Urban(Govt) 6 6 0 2 4 4 2 5 1
Total 40 35 5 19 21 23 17 25 15
Brief Look at Findings of Study
58.3 % schools situated in dalit habilitation not having separate toilets for girls.
Village Education Committee not formed in 42.5% schools of surveyed Schools.
Low attendance rate of dalit children (42.4% against overall attendance of 54.2%)
Availability of only 17% Dalit teachers in the surveyed schools
Irregular supply of teaching learning material in 50% of the schools situated in dalit habilitation dalit children.
No initiatives were undertaken 72.7% of existing VSS for facilitating education among dalit children.
Gap of 38.6% teaches was recorded in the school situated in dalit habitations whereas this gap was 32.9% in other government Schools in the neighboring habitations of other castes.
75.4% School in dalit habilitation did not have facilities of library whereas only 58.4% schools situated in other habitation lacked library facilities.
16.6% of the Schools situated in dalit habitation did not have School buildings.
B. Household Survey
A survey of 62 dalit households was undertaken to get a direct feel of their conditions which may have a bearing on the education of children in these households. There were three components of survey: first part was meant to get an idea of dalit households, second part was focused on education related issues, while the last part was pertaining to an appraisal of social behaviour on exclusion-related issues.
Tables 9 Introduction to Households
Family Members Children Age group
Total Adult Child M F 0-6 6 to14 14-18
A 21 132 67 65 38 27 14 31 20
B 21 153 54 99 56 43 27 41 31
C 20 137 45 92 48 44 18 52 22
Total 62 422 166 256 142 114 59 124 73
The child population was as high as 60% indicating high rate of growth of population among them. Further the male female ration was quite skewed in favour of male child. About half the children were in age-group 6-14 years, making elementary education the most important agenda for inclusion.
Most of them were too poor with household income (average size of household being as high as nearly seven)of about 42% households below Rs 2000/- per month, and 96% with an income level below Rs 10,000/- Poverty thus was a major issue which has to be taken into consideration while planning for the education of dalit children. It is so low even as in many households women also worked. Most of the earning members worked as labour with apparently low wages.
Tables 10 Household Income and Source
Monthly Income of family Both do job Source of income
<2000 2000-5000 5000-10000 >10000 Yes No Serv. Agricul. Labor Other
2 7 10 2 5 16 0 0 20 1
7 5 9 0 9 12 0 0 21 0
17 3 0 0 9 11 0 5 15 0
26 15 19 2 23 39 0 5 56 1
Only five households had pucca houses, and as many as 36 with kachcha houses. again only five houses had toilets, only two had electric connection.
How difficult and non-conducive to proper education may be the households of dalit children is easy to notice.
Most of the houses lacked even facilities for drinking water.
Tables 11 Status and Facilities
Status of house Toilet Lighting
Paka Adhpaka Kacha Indira Yes No Elec. Laltein Dhibri Other
3 7 10 1 48 0 21 0 6 11 4
0 2 8 11 34 1 20 1 6 13 1
2 2 14 2 56 4 16 1 3 16 0
5 11 32 14 138 5 57 2 15 40 5
There is no entertainment in their lives using gadgets common to middle class households. They did not subscribe to newspapers.
Tables 12 Facilities
Drinking water If yes (source) If not Entertainment
Yes No Well H.pump Supply Pub. Nab. Radio N.Paper TV
A 8 13 0 8 0 9 4 0 0 0
B 7 14 3 1 3 14 0 2 6 4
C 5 15 0 5 0 15 0 1 0 1
Total 20 42 3 14 3 38 4 3 6 5
Tables 13 Status of Parents ( Migration & Education)
Migrate to job if Y child edu. Lit. mother P Literate
Yes No Yes No Yes N Yes No
A 21 4 17 1 3 3 18 7 14
B 21 5 16 4 1 2 19 8 13
C 20 2 18 2 0 10 10 16 4
Total 62 11 51 7 4 15 47 31 31
As Table 13 shows the level of migration is very high among dalits involving about twenty percent of the households surveyed and education gets affected in varying degrees in such situations. Further illiteracy of parents is a big obstacle, particularly among mothers with more than three fourths reporting want of elementary literacy. Those with literacy studied in government schools and many believed that the quality of education was high or at least medium- a scenario which may have changed for the worse. However more than sixty percent reported discrimination, an overwhelming majority testifying that caste was the basis of discrimination.(Table 14)
Tables 14 Education Quality and Discrimination
If Yes Quality of edu. Discrimination Cause of discrim.
Govt. Pvt. High Med Low Yes No Poverty Caste other
7 0 1 4 2 5 2 0 7 0
7 1 5 2 0 2 5 2 5 0
14 2 11 3 0 11 3 1 13 0
28 3 17 9 2 18 10 3 25 0
While dalit children are in the maximum need of pre-school facilities, only one fourths of the children were attending Anganwadis, Whatever be the educational competence of Anganwadi, even this meager facility is denied to the dalit child.
Attending ICDS Discrimination Cause of not attending
Yes No Yes No A B C D
A 21 1 20 0 1 19 1 0 0
B 21 7 14 2 5 13 0 0 1
C 20 8 12 0 8 6 3 0 3
Total 62 16 46 2 14 38 4 0 4
Despite all the limitations of schools dalit children are being enrolled there. School, and of them the government school, is surely being given a fair trial, but actually the schools are failing, a fact borne out by the poor level of parental satisfaction- 95% reporting their dissatisfaction. This stands in sharp contrast to their own education, if any.
6-14Enrl. in sch. If Yes Sch. Daily Parent satisf.
Yes No Some Govt. Pvt. Yes No Yes No
A 20 0 1 21 0 1 20 0 21
B 16 2 3 19 0 20 1 2 19
C 20 0 0 20 0 19 1 1 19
Total 56 2 4 60 0 40 22 3 59
Tables 17 Social Behavior
Midday meal Discrimination Type of Discrim.
Yes No Yes No Pov. Dalit Other
A 21 15 6 3 18 1 2 0
B 21 13 8 2 19 2 0 0
C 20 3 17 3 17 0 3 0
Total 62 31 31 8 54 3 5 0
While mid day meals are still being served in an irregular manner, the cases of discrimination are not high any longer even if it has not been eliminated altogether. Teachers attitude is reported to be bad in about 14% cases, but an even more serious problem is the in availability or late availability of books (Table 18 &19), and the home environment being deficient for literacy or elementary school education.
Teachers' attitude Books If yes (In session)
Good Bad Normal Yes No Begin. Mid Last
A 8 7 6 16 5 1 13 2
B 21 0 0 7 14 2 4 1
C 12 2 6 18 2 0 18 0
Total 41 9 12 41 21 3 35 3
Dress Magazines Study at home Achievable aim
Yes No Yes No Self Tuition No Yes No
A 10 11 0 21 4 5 12 12 9
B 17 4 4 17 3 13 5 4 17
C 6 14 0 20 6 13 1 0 20
Total 33 29 4 58 13 31 18 16 46
Despite all these problems people do not give up hope. They are not aware of the schemes of the government, but are ready to overlook many things provided their children get good education.
Govt. scheme Benefits sche. Expectations Attitude of BC
Known Unkn Yes No good bad normal good bad normal
6 15 6 15 8 6 7 10 7 4
1 20 17 4 20 0 1 21 0 0
0 20 1 19 11 5 4 14 1 5
7 55 24 38 39 11 12 45 8 9
C. FGD in Mahuwa Block of Vaishali
A focus group discussion was organized with different stakeholders. Participants included some dalit students (Boys /Girls), teachers, influential community Members, PRI representatives, Block Education Extension Officer, community leaders, and a few NGO representatives.
The theme of the FGD was 'Access to education by children from Dalit community'..
Some significant testimonies are noted below:
Deep Narayan Kumar a child from Rajkiya Madhya Vidayalaya Sukki narrated that the teachers are good work but there is shortage of hindi/ mathematics teacher.There were one or two teachers who sometimes address them by their castes. There are more cases of physical punishment affecting dalit students. Different games are available in school but they do not have access to them.
Sunita, a 8th Std student from Paharpur added that they are beaten if they do not complete their home work.
Mr. Rajeev, Up Sarpancha, Bajitpur Panchayat thought that access to Education should not be enough. It should cover other issues relating to dalit education, including recruitment of dalit teachers and a holistic kind of education.
Sunita, Guardian, Patepur Panchayat complained that Midday meal is not according to the prescribed menu. She accepted that books and school uniforms were provided to her children by the schools, but added that distribution of stipend is irregular. She also brought up the question of lack of separate toilets for girls.
Nirmala Devi , President, VSS, Dhanautiya , Anusuchit Jati Madhya Vidyalaya narrated that the headmaster asks her to sign the proceedings but she is never given details of the proceedings.
Sudha Devi, a guardian also complained about irregular functioning of Midday Meal. She observed that senior children were taught by teachers, while younger ones are often asked to play. Old books are given to children as stop gap arrangement till new books are received by them late in the session.
Mr. Ramji Kumar of Chainpura said that teachers are engaged in several other works as surveys, election duty, meetings which hampers the educational process. There are influential members in VSS whose children do not study in the school at present.
Mr. Shivchandra Baitha, BEEO thought that VSS should work honestly and teaching cadre should not fall in trap of greed or involve in corrupt practices. Mukhiya should be pressurized to conduct regular monitoring of School. Complaint should be made in writing against corrupt practices so that actions can be taken, Guardian should focus on education of their wards at home.
It was a three hour discussion focused on the factors and process leading to social exclusion of dalit children in education. The FGD highlighted several important issues adversely affecting the education of dalit children as :
Irregular attendance of Teachers.
Irregular supplies of provisions: Mid day Meal, Books, Stipend, TLM etc.
Abusive language: sometimes calling SC children by their caste.
Teachers do not take education of dalit children seriously.
Lack of separate toilets for girl children.
Inadequate number of teachers.
Lack of specialist teachers (Mathematics, Science, and English) as a result the children become weak in higher classes. As dalit children come from marginalized families they cannot avail of private tuitions.
Lack of coordination between teachers and Parent Teacher Association.
Panchayat Representatives not monitoring the educational process as envisaged.
Lack of residential Schools in comparison to the number of learners.
Teacher engaged in different surveys, election and other works which affects the education of dalit children.
In some places the PTA is formed in contravention of the prescribed norms. ( The children of presidents of the PTA do not study in the schools yet they have been made presidents)
Lack of dalit teachers
Suggestions for improvement:
Dalits to be made president in PTA on the basis of reservation norms.
Effective monitoring by senior officer on performance of school and delivery of facilities, especially with focus on weaker sections.
Ensuring timely supply of provisions.
Opening of residential school in adequate numbers at all levels.
Ninety three persons were interviewed including 27 parents/guardians, 33 representatives of panchayats or Vidyalaya Shiksha Samitis, and 33 children. As shown in the following table a majority of interviewees were from dalit community, so that one may get an insight through their experiences. Some persons were taken from general group for the sake of comparison of attitudes and perceptions.
Guardians Representatives of Panchayats or VSS Boys Girls
SC Gen SC Gen SC Gen SC Gen
M F M F M F M F M F M F M F M F
3 2 2 2 3 2 3 2 6 3 1 ‑ 1 ‑ 1 ‑ 31
Vishali 2 2 2 2 4 4 3 3 3 ‑ 2 ‑ ‑ 2 ‑ 3 32
Rohtas 3 3 2 2 3 2 2 2 5 4 1 1 ‑ ‑ ‑ ‑ 30
Genderwise 8 7 6 6 10 8 8 7 14 7 4 1 1 2 1 3
Total: Categories 15 12 18 15 21 5 3 4
Total 27 33 26 7 93
There are some broad patterns that clearly emerge in the interviews. Some of these are given below;
The most disconcerting part of the report was that cutting across categories there was a consensus about the lack of quality in government schools. Whether one talked to parents or children or panchayat representatives, there was sense of dissatisfaction. Problems like teacher absenteeism, inadequacy in terms of numbers or lack of interest among teachers was reported by Many interviewees.
Regarding the mid day meals again there were similar universal complaints galore whether it was about availability or regularity, or about the quality. of food being given. Dalit parents however complained further about delayed payment pr non payment of scholarship, something that many of them need badly. They were similarly more worried about delayed supply of books as presumably they could not afford to buy books on their own and were dependent on government supply. If several children of Madhubani complained about lack of supply of uniforms, Rohtas children reported that only some of the eligible children were given scholarships. One child also complained that money was asked for by the concerned teacher for the release of scholarship. One parent (a mother) complained that scholarship was distributed among families related or close to the teachers while denied to children who came regularly to the school. Irregularity in distribution of scholarship was a widespread feature.
It was common for dalit parents to complain about discrimination against their children, a complaint less frequently made by dalit children. On the other hand parents or VSS members or even children from general category usually denied that there was any discrimination. In Vaishali there was a complaint of dominant backward caste groups to behave more aggressively sometimes. At least one parent from upper caste instructed his child not to play with dalit children because they were 'dirty'. It revealed a prejudice which persists even today, though possibly reduced now. However, one thing which is certain, is the consciousness of caste identity among different caste groups.
Parents from upper castes hold the view that guardians in dalit household do not take sufficient interest in the studies of their children, but on the other side many dalit parents expressed their inability to guide their children because their own lack of education or their inability to afford tuitions for their children for economic reasons.
Whether one spoke to parents or children either from dalit community or others it became almost clear that there was lack of free intermixing between dalit children and others. That is indicative of a strongly present social barrier which is yet to be removed and calls for social intervention. In fact there was a common tendency among children, more so the among dalit girls, to stick close to other girls from the same community.
Further, there is a perception among children of government schools, especially of dalit families, that teaching is much better and teachers pay greater attention in private schools, while there is a general neglect in government schools.
Lack of infrastructure was a common feature which was mentioned in most of the interviews implying the need of its strengthening if universal quality education is to become a reality.
E. State Level Consultation
State level consultation on “Social Exclusion in Bihar: An Inclusive Educational Policy Framework” was organized on 27th December 2010 at SCADA Business Centre, Patna to share the findings of the study among stakeholders & deliberate upon the processes of social exclusion of SC children and suggest variables for framing an inclusive educational policy . The consultation witnessed highly enriching deliberations and suggestion from participants on inclusive education policy to address the issues of educational exclusion of SC children in the state.
Mr. Amitabh Bhushan presenting the findings of the study said that poor educational level is one of the biggest obstacles in development of Scheduled Castes and social exclusion of SC children in education process in Bihar is a reality in spite the constitutional declaration of education as fundamental right and enactment of RTE 2009. He informed that the study covered forty schools in Madhubani, Rohtas and Vaishali district focused on comparative study and analysis of the situation of the schools based in dalit habitation w.r.t to schools in the neighboring Surroundings. Key findings of the Study highlighting the aspects of exclusion were presented by him. The study observed the need to change the mindset of the policy makers and implementers while working towards inclusive educational framework and effective implementation of RTE could be seen as an opportunity for correction of these imbalances.
Prof. Vinay Kantha, observed that the study conducted by PRIA is a reconfirmation of the facts and findings of the previous studies conducted by BEP and other organization on social exclusion. He expressed concern on the increasing social gaps in education and expressed need for decentralized educational planning to accommodate 8 lakh out of school children as per government statistics. Their has been efforts to enroll dalit children in formal schooling system but retention remains a major issues to be addressed. Education in itself has been a factor for exclusion of dalits. One needs to analyze the key weakness of process of social exclusion for identification of ways and measures for mitigation. Speaking on the education of marginalized children he said that economic reasons propel educational exclusion of children from marginalized communities especially as in case of SC children. Educational exclusion can be seen at two levels in the state initiatives (a) at the level of policy and (b) at the level of implementation. There is need of facilitating a bottom up strategy to address the issues of social exclusion not top down with law of averages as usual practice.Regarding the implementation of RTE in the state he drew attention to the gaps between existing situation and norms and standards laid down in the Act In fact systematic reforms are required both at policy and implementation level. Social barriers needs to be examined for increasing educational access among school children. There is a need for a time bound action plan for enrolling the dalit children in formal schools. Common schooling system could be one of the ways to address social exclusion. For the implementation of RTE all stakeholders will have to contribute and play a role. :
Justice Rajendra Prasad, Member, Bihar Human Right Commission opined that an intensive campaign is required to be carried out at state level to enroll SC children in leading private schools in terms of the provisions of RTE. Mr. Anindo Banerjee, State Coordinator, Praxis Bihar, addressing the participants said that the process of Social exclusion is not accidental but rather a active political process empowering the higher castes. He felt that Panchayats and Social Justice Committees can play effective role in addressing the issue of social exclusion at the levels of panchayat and community. Mr. Saliesh Kumar Singh, State Coordinator, UNDP said that there is a need to identify indicators to track systemic faults in the design and rectify them. Mr. Budh Saran Hans, Editor, Ambedhkar Mission Patrika complained that the teaching quality in government school is poor and there is a need to fix responsibilities of the teachers. Mr. Rajendra Prasad Nat, Member, Bihar Maha Dalit Commission narrated his experience of visiting a residential school for dalits. He was surprised to see that about forty children were sitting around one lamp and studying. If this quality of educational facilities to SC children, how can the gaps in education among social groups be minimized. Mr. A K Pandey, program Coordinator, BEP however averred that if there is a person from Mushar community having degree of matriculation and above, in most of the cases it is the contribution of SC residential school which gave them opportunity with requisite facilities. There is need to open a large number of SC residential school at block level from the level of middle School, with special teachers and facilities and reservation in proportion to their population to ensure educational access among dalit communities. Mr. Shamshad Hussain, Former Vice chancellor, Magadh University said that the state government is putting in a lot of efforts for education of dalit children. But their is need to develop the potential of individuals and developing self confidence in them. Counseling of dalit children and their parents should be taken up for orienting them on the importance of education.
There are a few studies undertaken in recent years to understand the issues concerning education of the dalit child. It may be worthwhile to take a look at the major findings of these studies as well with a view to enrich our understanding before designing a meaningful policy frame for their education. Two studies are discussed below:
Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS) :
IIDS took up a project with UNICEF in 2006 to work on issues of social exclusion, discrimination and deprivation of Dalit children. The project has also been able to facilitate UNICEF interface with Dalit Samanway, a collective of Dalit NGOs/CBOs, in particular exploring the issues of access to education.
Apart from documenting Dalit Voices, this project has undertaken two studies on understanding the 1. discrimination and exclusion of Dalit children in Education and 2. Dalit children and women in access to health care services are underway. In addition a background study on Status of Dalit children has been developed. Further, three action researches are being conducted which include one on ‘Out of School Children in Bihar’; a second on ‘Discrimination in Schooling’ and the third on Dalit access to the NREGA in Bihar.
The study conducted focused group discussions with different section of Dalit children; those who were never enrolled, those who had enrolled and subsequently dropped out and those who are currently going to school. Discussions were also held with parents is well as members of the Village Education Committees from the Dalit communities. The responses need addressing to facilitate Dalit children's access to education, to make universalization of elementary education a reality and to achieve goals of SSA.
Reason for being out of school (Never Enrolled)
l Parents do not ask children to go to school l Children help in household l Children do not have slates to go to school l Children are not enrolled in the school by their parents l Children are engaged in rearing the animals in the family l Children do not like to study l School is closed most of the time l Parents do not have enough resource to support children's education l Parents question relevance of education when educated people work as wage labourers l Children report that parents do not encourage them to go to school l Children rationalize that their wage earning is important for the family to survive l Children express responsibility for contributing to family income l Children report that they do not have proper clothes and get teased about it l Children have to help their siblings l No discussion in the family about sending children to school l Children have to stay back to protect the home from any theft l Children feel their families are very poor to support their education l Not forthcoming with response.
Reason for dropping our of school (Enrolled)
l Excessive corporal punishment (beating) by teachers l Dominant caste children and abuse l Overcrowded classes without sufficient space to sit l Other caste children do not like to sit with them l Parents do not encourage or insist that the child goes back to school when s/he stops going l Mid-Day Meals was not regular l Scholarships not distributed l Schools do not provide books on time l Have become used to working in brick kilns after dropping out l Parents do not insist on child studying l Other caste children tease and insult in the name of case l Teacher's behaviour is not good l Other students do not behave well l Women of dominant caste taunt Dalit school going girls l Parents stopped adolescent girls for fear of not finding a suitably educated boy for marriage l The arrangement of dowry is a big problem if the girls is educated l Their uniforms are not clean so other children do not sit with them l Due to lack of toilets in school for girls l School opens only occasionally l Teachers do not teach l Children do not have proper uniforms and other materials required for going to school l Had to take care of younger children in the home l Dalit children were asked to sit on the back seats l The school was quite far (about 1 km) from home l Teachers do not give attention to the studies of children of Dalit community l During rainy season the road to school becomes unusable.
In its study report titled 'Realising Dalit Children's Right to Education' NCDHR has compiled a list of 33 cases of discrimination with Dalit Children.
B. Voluntary Forum for Education and Centre for Study of Social Exclusion & Inclusive Policy, Patna University
In 2009 a study was conducted by the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion & Inclusive Policy, Patna University in collaboration with Voluntary forum for Education, a network of NGOs working in the field of education across the state of Bihar. The survey undertaken during the study covered 15 panchayats located in 15 rural blocks in eight districts and 3 urban wards located in 2 blocks in one district. The total number of guardians of children interviewed were 696 covering four categories namely, SC, Minority, EBC, and OBC. The number of guardians in each category was 174 out of which 150 were from the rural areas and remaining 24 from urban areas.
Enrollment & attendance
The survey data is by and large in line with governmental figures in terms of enrollment. Of the 2569 children of 853 household surveyed (Boys- 1308; Girls- 1261) only 310 were not enrolled in any school (Boys- 222; Girls-88). That is, about 12 percent children were found out of school. Their percentage is found to be highest among the minority at 20.16% followed by SC for which the corresponding figure is 17%. EBCs are a little better placed at 12%, while for OBCs the proportion has come down to 5.4%. Thus it is obvious that the extent of educational exclusion even at the elementary level is very high among the minorities and dalits, though it remains significant among the EBCs as well. If one takes a closer look then situation is much worse because actually only 51.62% of the girls are regularly going to schools meaning that nearly half the girls do not actually attend schools as against one thirds of boys. The gender discrimination is alarming when it comes to the ground reality of school education which can be measured more realistically from attendance rather than enrollment. Among the girls of SC category the situation is even more disappointing with only 40.56% girls of 6-14 age-group actually attending schools. Minority girls are the worst placed with corresponding figure being as low as 37%. Even among the enrolled girls the attendance rate is quite poor among minorities and dalits below 60 percent level implying that more than 40% of girls shown as enrolled are actually not going to schools. The incident of such artificial inflation of enrollment is much higher among dalits and minorities than among EBCs or OBCs.
Reasons for not going to schools
Guardians from different categories had different explanations for children not going to schools. Largest number of guardians felt that economic hardships are the most important reason behind children not going to schools which compelled children to work. Poverty and lack of education go together. Tackling the problem of poverty and ensuring that state bears the entire direct and indirect cost of education are thus the surest way to guarantee education for all. Yet there are other reasons and perceptual problems, at least partly rooted in ground situation. Poor quality of education was reported as a reason by a large number of guardians. A very plausible reason in deed, but interestingly this complaint was made by parents from OBC category, or secondly by parents from EBC category, rather than those from SC or minority group. SC parents complain of economic hardships more often, admit lack of conducive environment in homes or their inability to guide their children. Yes, one thing more. Some of them complain about the apathetic attitude of teachers and schools, which continues to be a deterrent.
Choice of schools & Quality issues
While an overwhelming majority (74.14%) of guardians perceive private schools as better ones in terms of quality, dalits express their perception more timidly. Combined with the fact that they are less dissatisfied with the quality of government schools despite getting a raw treatment occasionally, as revealed in the previous table, presumably shows their increasing keenness for education. They rate the quality of government school in the neighbourhood as generally good unlike their counterparts among OBCs who are so critical about the quality. The pattern is too obvious to be missed, the lower or more deprived is the class, the less is its expectation about quality, and the higher is its level of satisfaction. This low level of expectation is perhaps itself problematic. When confronted with the question whether they would put their children in a school where quality is ensured they are again not as categorical as the OBCs. They are obviously less concerned about quality as a class. Further data reveals the differences in the preferences of schools that different groups reveal aggregatively. If a majority wants good education in a private school, SC population, if it is at all interested in sending his child to school, is likely to prefer a residential school and then a neighbourhood school. OBCs in contrast have much less interest in residential school and strong preference for private school
Desire for education growing
Contrary to common perception that people will spend more on temples or religious ceremonies rather than education, nearly sixty percent of respondents will use money on education of children. Of course greater keenness for education of male child still prevails, most pronounced among minorities. Thus gender bias continues, though a strong desire and demand for education is unmistakably revealed by the data. Interestingly SC population has the strongest urge to buy a land or build a beautiful house, something which ahs remained a remote wish for most of them. The study shows that OBCs have started showing a strong desire to give good education to their children, which is weakly expressed by SCs compared to the desire to improve their social status.
Perception about Mid-day Meal Programme
While there is a general approval of mid-day meal programme across the caste-category, (at best some upper caste members express their reservations regarding its rationale, not covered in the present survey), the degree of approval and biases are quite evident. As one goes up in the social hierarchy the enthusiasm tapers of. This is but natural, given the poverty among the lower caste groups especially dalits. Three fourths of dalit families accepted that they sent their children to government school to avail the facility of MDM, two thirds of OBC families rejected this suggestion. The practice of dalits cooking to promote social equality, almost universally accepted by dalits and minorities, did not find favour with OBCs, presumably the bias will be even more pronounced among the upper caste-men.
VI. Factors behind educational exclusion
1. Design and Evolution of an Iniquitous System
Commenting upon the contemporary education system in India Partricia Jeffery expresses her doubts about its capacity to combat entrenched social and economic inequalities.
There is an increasing stratification of the educational system pushing the education of dalits or the poor to the lowliest level, while quality and excellence is the privilege of a few. At one end of the spectrum we have expensive public schools taking pride in their facilities and performance in the public examinations, unaffordable by poor dalits. On the other extreme we have government schools in the villages with very few teachers, little facilities and a record of absenteeism among teachers as well as students, resulting in large number drop outs, allowing just a handful to come up to secondary level, never facing a public examination, not to say of performance. This latter category of poor quality schools claims to provide some kind of education to a majority of children from dalit families. The recently enacted Rights of Children (Free and Compulsory Education) Act 2009 puts a seal of statutory approval to this iniquitous half hearted arrangement made for the education of dalits in India, Bihar providing a rather poor sample of even this type of schools.
Among the fundamental reasons for a rather disappointing scenario in respect of the constitutional agenda of change, especially change through education, two stand out. One is the factor of economic deprivation which goes hand and hand with social discrimination and exclusionary approach, and the other is the attitudinal deficit in the society and system managers.
2. Exclusion in Education
One of chief characteristics of exclusion of dalits has been their exclusion from education down the ages, which lingers on to the modern times. It was both an index and cause of exclusion and deprivation of dalits from social and economic life. They were forced to take up professions where knowledge of letters was not required as such, often mere drudgery and often physical hard work was needed, sometimes at best some manual skills. It was sort of conspiracy of division of labour forced upon the vanquished or subjugated groups. Segregation practiced against them excluded many caste groups from continuous social intercourse and often socialization through education was rendered unnecessary. Barring them from standard ritualistic practices in religious life combined with access to scriptures, which could have enabled them to solve the mysteries of written words. Education, if allowed, could have sooner rather than later opened he gates of knowledge and power, and higher education involving knowledge of letters and scriptures was made the monopoly of so-called dvija castes.
If exclusion is to be tackled then the surest means can be education, and preferably an inclusive version and style of education.
3. A matter of Attitude
Whether it is the question of injustice against the dalits, or of the prejudices against one another among communities, or the discrimination against women, it starts in our minds, located in our attitudes. Education of these groups therefore gets affected. Many dalit children are out of schools, large number of children from Muslim minority receive little or largely irrelevant kind of education, if at all they get some education, girls lag behind boys or are subjected to a neglect even in matters of education in the family. Sometimes one is forced to ask if we are really serious about giving them real quality education. The arrangements that we create are merely an apology of education rather than a commitment to full quality education- teachers are less qualified and lowly-paid, facilities are uncertain, pedagogy is not up to mark or their needs. There are deep seated prejudices betrayed in our planning and action, though never admitted in the enunciation of policies, a hypocrisy on the part of the managers of the system.
Unfortunately social attitudes have also not changed beyond a point. Perhaps in the days of freedom struggle and till sometime after independence there was a perceptible change, but it appears to have slowed down, and occasionally slipping into mere political gimmicks or rhetoric leading to a social disenchantment or sometimes, even reactionary backlash. In reality we seem to be moving away from the goal of an egalitarian society.
4. Motivation for education
It is widely acknowledged today that parental interest in education has grown rapidly, which is reflected in the sharp decline of never-enrolled children in schools. PROBE that is, Public Report on Basic Education, an interesting survey conducted in five states, namely, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana (conducted between September and December 1996, report published in 1999), confirms the trends and adds more insights. It says, "Most other signs of high and rapidly growing parental interest in education came to our attention in the course of this study. Here are some examples: (1) most parents support compulsory education for all children; (20 private schools are springing up in many villages, and even poor parents often enroll their children in private school if the local government school is not working". The survey reports that 99 percent of the parents in Bihar, obviously covering dalits as well, consider education of boys as important, the corresponding figures for girls is also 88 percent. In fact the interest among SC/ST is almost equal to general population (all states taken together), that is, 99 percent for boys' education and 87 percent for girls.
While explaining the success of Kerala, and lately Haryana, another interesting point has been raised by PROBE. It observes that,'the social influence of role models depends a great deal on what people see as relevant 'reference group'. a success story of a high caste boy from a remote village does not have an impact, but success of a dalit boy will have a definite impact. In the case of Kerala or Haryana a social consensus has reached on the need of sending children , even girls to school, while Bihar seems to be moving towards it. The more important problem now is the quality and relevance of education rather than its perceived value. To borrow a phrase from PROBE, parents, even dalit parents, are willing to give school a chance! But they are wary of the ways of the schools. Do they offer kind of education which is of any use to them? Are their children welcome in the schools? Are they treated well? These and many more similar questions are to be answered before we can ask them why their children are not there.
5. Poverty and Education
Most of the marginalized rural dalit and adivasi communities depend on subsistence agricultural wage or at best cultivate very small units of land. Even in urban areas they are in lowly paid jobs, mostly in unorganized sector or precariously managing to earn their daily wage somehow. The vast majority is poor and in a state like Bihar with nine-tenths of population living in rural areas their economic conditions as a class are bad. Under the situation some of them do not mind their children adding to the family income, more so when they schools to which they are able to send their children does not give much hope or does not welcome them at all. They can ill afford the hidden cost of education, and worse, the change in the mindset of the learner making them averse to manual labour while failing to prepare them for higher level jobs. Even if a dalit child studies up to class VIII what economic prospect does he has in life. After all the constitution and the law too promises free education merely up to that level.
All empirical studies confirm the correlation between poverty and educational non-achievement. The policy implications of this situation are obvious, but rather difficult to translate into a comprehensive strategy.
6. Quality Issues
Quality is an elusive term, difficult to define, more difficult to attain. Pedagogues may have their own notions of quality, reflected lately in approaches like constructivism, favoured by NCERT today, or the idea of joyful learning promoted in many government sponsored programmes since 1990s. Parents on the other hand may have a common sense view of what is quality for their children's education. As PROBE reports this common sense idea of quality does not vary across social groups. The report further observes, " One particular aspect of this outlook is a certain resistance to pedagogical initiatives that challenge the dominant value system. Rural parents, we found, are rather conservative in schooling matters. Far from clamouring for alternative pedagogy, they are quite at home with traditional teaching methods, school uniforms, formal examinations, and even physical punishments. Recent attempts to popularize 'joyful learning', for instance, have often met with scepticism. One parent went so far as to complain that 'teachers send their own children to convent schools, but make village children dance like monkeys'. Of course, the report clarifies, "This is not to deny that joyful learning methods may be extremely useful in sustaining the interest of children, or to claim that the skepticism of parents is immutable."
As Nambissan observes, "Poor infrastructure, lack of basic amenities and facilities, as well as inadequate number of teachers is a feature of schools that Dalit children encounter as they enter government (local body managed) schools. In addition, curriculum transaction in schools is dominated by conventional pedagogy based on textbook, 'chalk and talk' and absence of relevant teaching aids, and dominated by rote learning. Ongoing academic support, monitoring and feedback is also not a feature of primary schools, less so in more and backward rural areas and poverty zones in the cities. This provides an unattractive learning environment for Dalit children (the majority of whom enter government schools) and contrasts with quality of schooling (in 'public'- private schools) enjoyed by the more privileged strata." The stratification of schools and the disparity between schools has been growing over the years, making it more and more difficult for the Dalit children to compete with the children of the privileged classes in post-school year, making their education largely irrelevant in the job market.
7. Social Discrimination
As PROBE and many other field reports observe that 'schooling system itself does not give equal treatment to different sections of the population. discrimination against underprivileged groups is endemic, in several forms.' In this context lately there has been a great deal of discussion on the gradual emergence of multiple tracks in education despite very clear recommendation of Kothari Commisssion in 1966, which was accepted in National Policy on Education in 1968, and reiterated in many subsequent documents including Education Policy of 1986. However private schools have mushroomed, some of them charging very high fees, which cater to the educational needs of the elite. Government schools have not done particularly well and the recent field reports reveal that these schools admit mostly children from backward sections of the society, while the privileged class often exercise a preference for private schools. In fact within the state sponsored arrangements for education, for the poorest of the poor sometimes we end up with non-formal or informal systems manned by parateachers. Children from dalit families are being accommodated in these cheap alternatives of education in large numbers denying them equality of opportunity. PROBE brings out the existence of differentiated facilities even within the government schooling, as a rule favouring the relatively privileged sections interms of availability or creation of infrastructure. But arguably the most serious problem is the unequal treatment inside the school.
As PROBE says, "one common example of social prejudice in the classroom is the disparaging attitude of upper-caste teachers towards dalit children. This can take various forms, such as telling dalit children that they are 'stupid', making them feel inferior, using them for menial chores, and giving them liberal physical punishment. Harassment from upper-caste pupils is another common experience of dalit children. Class-based discrimination follows similar patterns. In one school the investigator noted that new textbooks had been distributed to children from affluent families, while poor children were given old textbooks recycled from previous years." Sen in his Introduction to a Pratichi Report has also commented upon the growing chasm between teachers and children in terms of social class or economic and educational backgrounds which is often seen to underlie the negative teacher attitudes towards poor students and their disparaging comments on the absence of parental support. Nambissan notes, " What is also significant is that higher-caste teachers may also resent the crowding of Dalit children into 'institutional space' that was hitherto taboo for 'polluted' castes and see it as a transgression of traditional social hierarchies. Balgopal and Subrahmanian view 'the abuse (of Dalits) as a manifestation of a more systemic disjuncture associated with the entry of traditionally excluded groups into spaces that were hitherto the preserve of caste and class elites.'
One more aspect of discrimination which needs thorough examination is pedagogic, that is relating to the entire approach to school education, covering all curricular and co-curricular agenda of an institution. To begin the choice of knowledge system to be privileged in the formal schools is biased against the lower caste people who work generally with their hands. Whether it is the language or the very contents of learning the concerns, social realities or the practices of dalits find no reflection in the textbooks or syllabi. It may be noted that class and gender bias is a ubiquitous phenomenon of our schooling system, whether it pertains to the choice of themes or illustrations or the very objectives and style of learning. If gender stereotyping is widely prevalent, the concerns and anxieties of the poor are either missing or coloured in the textbooks.
VII. Policy Framework Analysed
1. The issue of exclusion in education can not be separated from the broader theme of social exclusion, nor can it be tackled without addressing other aspects in some ways. Many studies and opinions exist on the subject, and many more are getting added in the wake of deepening of Indian democracy today, one manifestation of which is presumably a role redefinition of dalits. In public sphere, as in educational matters, there are new measures of affirmative action showing the trend. A quick look in some framework of analysis may help in comprehending the present scenario.
2. Piron & Curran have listed a range of public policies to tackle the problems of exclusion in the context of third world countries, India included. These are relevant not only for India, but for a state unit like Bihar as well, to understand and appraise the nature of interventions and the degree of success. Before success with respect to different dimensions of policies are assessed in specific contexts, it would be worthwhile list them out. These are as follows:
Constitutional and legal safeguards
Affirmative action policies
Administrative and service delivery
Promotional activities and facilities civil society interventions
Constitutional and legal safeguards
Right from the era of freedom struggle there has been a political willingness to recognize different forms of exclusion and constitutional safeguards have been introduced to deal with them. There are clear provisions in the constitutions like article 17 which abolishes untouchability or article 15 & 16 provide for protective discrimination.
To give effect to promise of article 17 an Act , namely, the Untouchability (Offences) Act was legislated in 1955, which was later renamed and given more teeth as the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1976.(Quote legal provisions) Subsequently in 1989 there was another Act enacted, namely, Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which declared a large category of cases as an offence of atrocity and provided for a minimum sentence of six months which may extend to five years. However actual cases of such cases are few and far between and seldom if ever, conviction takes place even as cases of atrocities against the are still rampant in one form or the other.
Affirmative action policies
The constitution does not only preclude the possibilities of caste based discriminations by its promise of equality as a fundamental right but also provides for a basis of affirmative actions in articles 15 & 16. There is a system of reservations in the legislatures for SCs & STs as also in government employment, entrance in government educational institutions, etc. These provisions have been included with the intent of redressing conventional caste discrimination and exclusion in these state-controlled sectors.
In pursuance of the 93rd amendment to the Constitution aiming to provide statutory reservation to SCs, STs and OBCs in Central Educational Institutions, the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act has been passed and notified in Jaanuary 2007. The Oversight Committee (Moily Committee ) constituted in May 2006 recommended an investment of Rs 17270 crore over a period of five years for the Central Educational Institutions to increase their intake capacity by 54% so as to provide 27% reservation to OBCs without affecting the number of general seats.
In the first place the constitution provided for reservation for SC &ST in the union and state legislature for a period of ten years from the commencement of constitution, and it has been successively extended for a further period of ten years each time that the period nears its end. Reservation of seats in legislature, and subsequent reservation in the local self government institutions has ensured a fair legislative participation, though its impact on the welfare of the entire community may be debatable.
There are many schemes of the government to provide economic support to Scheduled castes. There is a scheme of the central government to provide pre-matric scholarships for children of those engaged in unclean occupations such as scavenging, flaying and tanning. Central assistance is provided to the state government on 50:50 basis and there is income ceiling prescribed. Under another scheme post-matric scholarships are provided to SC students for higher studies in recognized institutions and for this central assistance is full hundred percent. For pursuing researches leading to the award of M.Phil and Ph D degrees Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship was introduced in financial year 2005-06. There are facilities of coaching created for various services, hostels are set up and many more facilities are designed. It is possible that some states like Bihar fail to take full advantage of these schemes.
For economic development if a national Scheduled Castes finance and Development Corporation has been established at the national level, at the state level also there is a State Scheduled Castes Development Corporation.
Even before the enactment of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in September 2005 and its subsequent enforcement from 2 February 2006 in 200 most backward districts programmes like Sampoorna Gram Rozgar Yojana or National Food for Work Programmes existed which laid special emphasis on women, SC,ST and parents of children withdrawn from hazardous occupations. Likewise whether it is Indira Awas Yojana and many other schemes SC population is the part of the target group for assistance.
Right from the period of socio religious reform movements of the nineteenth century caste discriminations have been opposed by the reformers. Of course in the era of freedom struggle the political approach became more dominant and sometimes it was difficult to distinguish between social reform and political action. In the post independence era social reform zeal has waned, while in state policy there is evidence of reformist agenda.
During the first three decades of planning the general assumption was that growth would percolate down to the poor and the hitherto deprived sections of population. When it was realised by policy planners that it is not working a series of more direct interventions were formulated. One such idea was the concept of Special Component Plan (now being renamed as Scheduled Caste Sub Plan), which was introduced during the Sixth plan (1980-85). SCP envisaged allocation of a definite share of Plan allocation for the benefit of the SCs at the central level or in a particular state proportionate to the percentage of SC population.
Administrative and service delivery
Apart from provision for reservations in government jobs at some places SC is to be accommodated as a policy measure, the most interesting example being the mid-day meal scheme. Bihar is among the states which have decide that the responsibility of cooking will be ordinarily given to dalit women. Though sometimes there are oppositions reported from members of upper castes, but that is few and far between, and such decisions are likely to have long term consequences in terms of attitudinal changes.
Promotional activities and facilitating civil society interventions
There are campaigns and programmes supported by UN agencies, other national and international funding agencies and networks operating at different levels which contribute to the promotion of education among marginalized sections. One such campaign is the Declaration of UN Millennium Development Goal which includes some education related goals. MDG 2 sets the target of universal primary education and total wipe out of drop out at the primary level by 2015 and likewise MDG 3 seeks to bring about a gender parity at the primary level by the same date. In India Wada Na Todo Abhiyan is a UN partner for attaining the MDGs and many more networks and organizations are part of the campaigns. National campaign for Dalit Human Rights is working with dalits as the target group. Voluntary Forum for Education is a network of NGOs working in Bihar for promoting education.
3. The society in Bihar is in a state of turbulence where urgent social interventions are called for and education has emerged as a key area of intervention. In terms of political consciousness society is alert and active, albeit not always in a responsible manner. Energies of people needs to be channelised and schools can be the most appropriate sites of training.
4. The current curriculum including text books and pedagogic practices are removed from the lives of people, particularly the lower sections. Hence curriculum for the state should be designed keeping in view the rich cultural and political resources available among the dalit groups in different parts of state. If a very rich Mithila culture exists in the eastern part of north Bihar, western side is part of large Bhojpuri speaking region spreading beyond the state. Magadh region has its own language and culture, and so has the areas around Bhagalpur where a distinct angika is the lingua franca. Each region has its own repertoire of different genres of arts, its own sense of cultural and historical identity.
5. Right to Education Act and Dalit Child
The Act is apparently not drafted in the rights perspective because rights are neither clearly formulated with appropriate safeguards, nor it applies to all children (0-6 & 14-18 age-group left out), nor adequate provisions, especially financial, are made to translate them into reality. If elementary education was being made a fundamental right then a clear declaration of the right and explicit assignment of specific responsibility with adequate safeguards and clauses to ensure its enforcement were essential requirements. On the contrary rights have been weakly and inadequately enunciated, responsibilities made vague and unenforceable and safeguards claimed to have been provided are nothing more than ritualistic.
There is no comprehensive and unified framework of schools visualized in the Act which may have been called a Common School System. Not only there are different types of schools with different scales of responsibility, there is little to suggest a design of a equitable, common and complete framework. The net result of the provision on this subject will be the perpetuation of the currently prevailing hierarchy of schools, some meant for privileged classes and others for the poor classes and legitimization of privatization and commercialization. This violates both Article 14 (equality before law) and Article 21A (Right to Education) of the Constitution. Establishment of a Common School System in India is surely the most logical and equitable option available, particularly for deprived groups including scheduled caste. As for the disadvantaged sections the Act has a condescending tone rather than enunciation of a right to equal opportunities in education, not to speak of an extra attention, under the constitutional promise of positive discrimination or affirmative action in their favor.
RTE as the most important tool at this point of time
1. Aggarwal,Y & Sibou, S Educating Scheduled Castes: a Study of Inter District and Intra Caste Differentials National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi (1994)
2. Bag, Sadanand and Namala, Annie (eds) Realising Dalit Children's Right to Education, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, New Delhi (2007)
3. Balgopal, S. and Subrahmanian, Dalit and Adivasi Children in Schools: Some Preliminary Research Themes and Findings, in R.Subrahmanian et al (eds) Education, Inclusion and Exclusion: Indian and South African Perspectives, IDS Bulletin 34(1) (2003)
4. Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi The Contested Terrain: Perspectives on Education in India, Orient Longman, New Delhi (1998)
5. Bourdieu, Pierre and Passeron, Jean-Claude Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture, SAGE Publications, London, (1990)
6. Chopra, Radhika and Jeffery (eds) , Patricia Educational Regimes in Contemporary India, SAGE Publications, New Delhi/ Thousand Oaks/London, (2005)
7. Galanter, Marc The Long half-life of Reservations in Zoya Hasan, Sridhran,E. Sudarshan,R. (eds) India’s Living Constitution, Ideas, Practices, Controversies, Permament Black, Delhi (2002)
8. Jeffery, C., Jeffery, R.& Jeffery, P. Degrees without Freedom: The Impact of Formal Education on Dalit Young Men in North India in Development and Change, Vol 35, Issue 5, Nov. 2004
9. Jha, Jyotsna and Dhir Jhingaran, Elementary Education for the Poorest and other Deprived Groups: The Real Challenge of Universalisation, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, (2002)
10. Jha, Pravin, Das, S. Mohanty, S.S. and Jha, N.K. Public Provisioning for Elementary Education in India, SAGE Publications, New Delhi/ Thousand Oaks/London, (2008).
11. Kantha, Vinay K. Exclusion in Education Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Patna University (2009)
12. Kantha, Vinay K. & Jha, Madan M., Search for Rights, Equity and Social Justice, Rightto Education Bill, 2005East & West Educational Society, Patna (2006)
13. Kantha, Vinay K. & Narain, Daisy, “Dynamics of Community Mobilization in a Fragmented and Turbulent State” in Community Participation and Empowerment in Primary Education, eds, Govinda, R. & Diwan, Rashmi, SAGE Publications, New Delhi/ Thousand Oaks/London, (2003).
14. Kumar, Krishna Social Character of Learning, SAGE Publications, New Delhi/ Thousand Oaks/London, (1989)
15. Kumar, Ravi Educational Deprivation of the Marginalized, A Village Study of the Musahar Community in Bihar, in The Crisis of Elementary Education in India, ed, Kumar, Ravi SAGE Publications, New Delhi/ Thousand Oaks/London, (2006).
16. Nambissan, Geetha B., "Dalits and the Right to Education" in The Crisis of Elementary Education in India, ed, Kumar, Ravi SAGE Publications, New Delhi/ Thousand Oaks/London, (2006).
17. Piron, L & Curran ,Z. Public Policy Response to Exclusion: Evidence from Brazil, South Africa and India, Overseas Development Institute, Sept 2005
18. Planning Commission, Government of India Eleventh Five Year Plan 2007-2012, Oxford University Press, New Delhi (2008)
19. Public Report on Basic Education in India, The PROBE Team in association with Centre for Development Economics, Oxford University Press, New Delhi (1999)
20. Reclaiming Scheduled Caste Sub-plan: Where is Dalit Money??? Ed Sadanand Bag, Published by National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, New Delhi-110008, June 2007
21. Reading Materials for Orientation & Planning Workshop organized by Dalit Samanvaya, Bihar supported by Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (2008)
22. Sadgopal, Anil Globalization: Demystifying its Knowledge Agenda for India's Education Policy (Durgabai Deshmukh Memorial Lecture) New Delhi: Council for Social Development (2004)
23. Sen, Amartya, Introduction in Pratichi Education Report, Pratichi Trust, Delhi (2002)
24. Zoya Hasan, Sridhran,E. Sudarshan,R. (eds) India’s Living Constitution, Ideas, Practices, Controversies, Permament Black, Delhi (2002)
THE ENSLAVEMENT OF DALIT AND INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN
INDIA, NEPAL AND PAKISTAN THROUGH
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Slavery on the high street. Forced labour in the manufacture of garments for international brands.
PDF file: Slavery on the high street
Poverty, Discrimination and Slavery: The reality of bonded labour in India, Nepal and Pakistan
By Surinder S. Jodhka and Ghanshyam Shah
By S.N. Malakar and Chittaranjan Senapati
By Gobinda C. Pal
By Surinder S. Jodhka
By Patricia Maringi G. Johnston
Access to Health Care and Patterns of Discrimination: A Study of Dalit Children in Selected villages of Gujarat and Rajasthan
By Sanghmitra S. Acharya
By Geetha B. Nambissan
By Kalinga Tudor Silva, P.P. Sivapragasam and Paramsothy Thanges
By Krishna B. Bhattachan, Tej B. Sunar and Yasso Kanti Bhattachan
By Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury
By Surinder S. Jodhka and Katherine S. Newman
By Nidhi Sadana
By Christophe Jaffrelot
DALITS’ ACCESS TO EDUCATION
Discrimination against Dalits in the educational system is a widespread problem in caste-affected countries.1
Alienation, social exclusion, and physical abuse transcend all levels of education, from primary education to university. Illiteracy and drop-out rates among Dalits are very high due to a number of social and physical factors. Legislation on the area is limited, and measures that have been taken are often inadequately implemented.
Governments are recommended to take specific measures to ensure equal access to education for Dalits in accordance with international human rights principles. In particular, IDSN calls on governments, national institutions, UN experts and agencies, as well as civil society organisations, to take into consideration the recommendations contained in the draft UN principles and guidelines for the effective elimination of discrimination based on work and descent, as listed in the section below.
Illiteracy and dropout rates for Dalit children
The illiteracy rate for Dalit children is generally high in affected countries, compared to that of other children. Although the literacy rate has generally increased among Dalits over the last years, the literacy gap between them and other children is still wide. Sample studies from Bangladesh indicate that around 96% of the
country’s estimated 5.5 million Dalits are illiterate (One World Action, 2011). Apart from posing a barrier in access to education, the widespread illiteracy also results in lack of gainful employment options for Dalits (HRW, 2007). A UNICEF report from 2006 points to the fact that the quality of education is often so low that children “mechanically go through five years of primary education and emerge barely literate” (UNICEF, 2006: A). The same study concludes that the poor quality of education is a significant factor in explaining the low level of completion rates in primary education.
The dropout rate for the Dalit children is generally high, especially at the elementary level. Indeed, according to
UNICEF the dropout rate among Dalits in India is 44.27% in primary school (2006: B). Statistics from Nepal illustrate a significant gap between the share of the Dalit population in relation to illiterary rates and enrollment shares (see text box). Although the general dropout rate has generally decreased, the difference in dropout rates between Dalit children and other children has in fact widened in some countries. In India, the difference in dropout rates between Dalit youth and all Indian youth has actually grown from 4.39 pct. in 1989 to 16.21 pct. in 2008 (IDSN and Navsarjan briefing note, 2010).
1 Caste-based discrimination is associated with the notion of purity and pollution and practices of “untouchability”, and is deeply rooted in societies and cultures where this discrimination is practiced. It is estimated to affect 260 million persons globally, out of which the vast majority of the affected persons live in South Asia (e.g. India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka). Other affected groups include the Buraku community in Japan, the Al-Akhdam community in Yemen, low caste groups in Africa such as the Osu in Nigeria, and the Diaspora community in e.g. the United Kingdom.
Discriminatory practices against Dalit children in schools
The forms of structural discrimination, alienation, and abuse that Dalit children face in schools are so stigmatising that they are oftentimes forced to drop out of school. One of the main issues is the discriminatory practice conducted by teachers. In 2006, the Special Rapporteur on the right to education noted that “teachers have been known to declare that Dalit pupils cannot learn unless they are beaten” (HRW, 2007). Discriminatory
practices against Dalit children exercised by teachers may include corporal punishment, denial of access to school water supplies, segregation in class rooms, and forcing Dalit children to perform manual scavenging on and around school premises (IDSN and Navsarjan briefing note, 2010).
A Nepalese study on caste-based discrimination in school documented that indirect discrimination by teachers, such as neglect, repeated blaming, and labeling of Dalit students as weak performers, lead to social exclusion of Dalit students in schools. The consequence was irregular attendance in classroom, less concentration in studies, less participation in school activities, lower performance, failure, and school drop-out (D.R. Bishworma, 2010). Additionally, Dalit children face discriminatory attitudes from fellow students and the community as a whole, in particular from higher caste members who perceive education for Dalits as a waste and a threat. This is linked to a perception among some higher caste people that educated Dalits pose a threat to village hierarchies and power relations, and that Dalits are generally incapable of being educated (Vasavi et al., 1997). Other factors adding to high drop-out rates
The poor educational status of Dalits is due to both social and physical factors. The extreme poverty in which most Dalit families live is another underlying reason why the drop-out rate of Dalit children is so high. Many parents simply cannot afford to send their children to school and are dependent on their workforce to ensure the survival of the family.
The distance to schools is also considered a huge barrier for Dalit children, and a significant part of the explanation for the low enrolment rate and the high dropout rate. Due to the unwillingness of higher caste groups to live side by side with Dalits, Dalit families often live in remote areas, away from the main villages and schools. This residential pattern has two major implications. Firstly, the location of schools within the main
villages, and hence within higher caste areas, makes it difficult for Dalit children to gain access to schools, due to caste tensions. Secondly, the great physical distance to schools often result in Dalit children dropping out, as the distance is simply too far to walk on an everyday basis (UNICEF, 2006: A).
Migratory labour is another factor that adds to the high dropout rates.
Many Dalits are landless and are forced into migrant labour, as this is often the only way to ensure the economical survival of their families. The continuous migration in search for labour implies a frequent disruption of the Dalit children’s education and makes them incapable of keeping up with the academic advancement of other children (HRW, 2007). Finally, the lack of proper facilities is a general problem in many schools. Many public schools have second-rate facilities, i.e. lack of classrooms, basic infrastructure, qualified teachers, and teaching aids.
Discrimination in higher education
Intolerance, prejudice and harassment towards Dalits are not only found at the elementary school level. Several incidents have occurred in institutions of higher education where discrimination is practiced by senior upper-caste students, teachers, faculties, and administrations. The caste bias manifests itself in the way teachers ignore Dalit students and unjustly fail them in exams, in social exclusion and physical abuse, and in the unwillingness of the university administration to assist Dalits and support them. As a grave consequence of this harassment, a disproportionate number of Dalit students have committed suicide (The Death of Merit, 2011: A).
Indeed, in India alone, 18 Dalit students have committed suicide in one of the country’s premier institutions between 2008-2011, and this number only represents the official cases. Counting all the Dalit students whose families did not protest against the incessant discrimination that eventually led to suicide, the number is likely to be much higher (The Death of Merit, 2011: B).
In many affected countries, the practice of caste discrimination is explicitly prohibited as per their constitutions.
However, most of these countries fail to take specific legislative action to address the issue. India is the exception, and over the years several legislative measures and affirmative action have been taken to ensure the rights of the country’s large Dalit population, including reservation policies and quotas. There are good examples of how affirmative action measures have been benefitted the most marginalized. For instance, the primary school tuition fee has been abolished for Scheduled Castes, and incentives such as free textbooks, uniforms and stationary are provided for Scheduled Caste children. Out of 43.000 scholarships for talented children from rural areas, 13.000 have been given to Scheduled Caste children (UNICEF, 2006: A).
Unfortunately, implementation of such measures continues to be highly inadequate. Below are examples of the
non-enforcement of special measures and barriers to effectively improving the educational status of the Dalits
Reservation policies and quotas for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes in India only apply to public schools, and not private schools. Moreover, the Dalits who have converted to for instance Christianity and Islam still cannot benefit from these provisions.
In higher educational institutions 15% of seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes. This is also the case in technical educational institutions. However, in technical and professional courses in higher education, some reserved seats remain unfilled.
Universities often fail to follow the guidelines set up for Dalit students by the University Grant Commission (UGC) (Government of India). The widespread discrimination against Dalits throughout the entire educational system indicate that more needs to be done by affected governments to ensure implementation of laws, programmes and quotas.
Case stories of Dalit children in India -
Victims of caste discrimination: A survey
by Navsarjan Trust, India reveals that teachers, local governments, and community members routinely subject the children of manual scavengers to discrimination and forced labour as part of their daily experience of attending school and living in their communities. The survey - Voices of Children of Manual Scavengers – is based on interviews with 1,048 children between the ages of 6 and 17 in the state of Gujarat. Together with Navsarjan’s groundbreaking report Understanding Untouchability it forms the basis of this briefing document - compiled by IDSN in February 2011. IDSN briefing paper: DALITS’ ACCE
Dalit women more humiliated when raped: Study