When schools 'teach' untouchability

By - DNA Correspondent

CRY study exposes discrimination against Dalit teachers and students in Gujarat govt schools

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat may be doing better than several other states in terms of literacy, but when it comes to quality of education, the state seems to be lagging behind.

A recent study carried out by Bunyadi Adhikar Andolan and CRY (Child Relief and You) has revealed that untouchability is liberally practised by teachers and consequently by students in most government-run schools in the state.

The study, released at a seminar on Thursday in Ahmedabad, reiterated a previous case study on the status of Dalits in primary education in Gujarat. "In village schools of Gujarat, SC children are forced to sit at the back, actively discouraged from participating in class activities, and even subjected to food and water taboos.

While there are no Dalit organisers of the school, only 1% of the cooks are from this marginalised section," it says.

The survey was carried out in 110 schools in 10 districts and concluded earlier this week. A letter has been sent to the chief minister demanding a common school system, which has been ratified by the government's National Policy on Education in 1986 but is not yet implemented.

A senior member of CRY Balwant Singh said, "Dalit teachers and cooks are never allowed to serve food during the mid-day-meals to kids. Whenever Dalit cooks serve food, only Dalit children eat their mid-day meal. Even the teachers unabashedly discriminate and practice untouchability, which is immediately reflected in the students' attitude."

In fact, activists, who personally visited these schools, witnessed visible forms of untouchability on at least 30 occasions over a period  of 20 days, earlier in this month.

The report records these cases between students, cook and students and teacher and students. Gandhiji's cause seems to be lost in his homeland itself. The archaic system of untouchability, which he persevered to abolish in the country, continues to be practised in the temples of education -state-run primary schools in villages.

"These findings are a serious cause for concern because if the child learns this kind of discrimination at school level, he will grow and spread this ideology. It is about time we stop these ideologies of division from spreading to the next generation," Singh added.

This is again in addition to the fact that the overall status of education in schools is quite dismal. "Gujarat has better infrastructure than other states, but the number of teachers and even their quality is very poor. The study reveals that 33% schools have up to two teachers and only one-fourth - 25% of schools- have more than seven teachers.

The qualification of these teachers was not within the purview of this study, but it has been highlighted earlier that it has been found wanting," CRY's manager - development support, Soumya Mohanty, said.= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
For news updates throughout the day, visit dnaindia.com