Children from Dalit, tribal and Muslim communities are being blatantly discriminated against in schools in rural areas in several states of the country, says a shocking report released by an international rights group on Tuesday.
The discrimination, the Human Rights Watch report titled ‘They Say We’re Dirty’ says, includes “teachers asking Dalit children to sit separately, making insulting remarks about Muslims and tribal students and village authorities not responding when girls are kept from the classroom”.
The report also says “teachers and other students often address these children using derogatory terms for their caste, community, tribe, or religion”.
“In some schools, children from vulnerable communities are not ever considered for leadership roles such as class monitor because of their caste or community. Many are expected to perform unpleasant jobs such as cleaning toilets. Schools in marginalised neighborhoods often have the poorest infrastructure and least well-trained teachers; many have fewer teachers than required,” the report said.
The report was prepared with interviews with more than 160 people, including 85 children, to examine obstacles to implementation of the Right to Education Act, said Human Rights Watch.
Here are some of the instances of bias the children face on the basis of caste and religion, as cited in the report:
1. This is what a student from the Ghasiya tribal community studying at a school in Sonbhadra district in UP was quoted as saying: “The teacher tells us to sit on the other side. If we sit with others, she scolds us and asks us to sit separately … The teacher doesn’t sit with us because she says we ‘are dirty.’ The other children also call us dirty everyday so sometimes we get angry and hit them.”
2. The principal of the same school in Sonbhadra said this about the tribal children: “These Ghasiya children come to school late, come when they want to come, no matter how much we tell them to come on time. Their main aim is to come and eat, not to study. Just see how dirty they are.”
3. A 14-year-old boy, working at a brick kiln, recounted: “The teacher always made us sit in a corner of the room, and would throw keys at us [when she was angry]. We only got food if anything was left after other children were served… [G]radually [we] stopped going to school.”
4. A dalit girl from Bihar said this: “Other children don’t let us sit with them. Some of the girls say, ‘Yuck, you people are Dom [street sweepers] – a dirty caste….’ The teachers never say anything even when we complain.”
5. A 12-year-old boy, from the Muslim community in Delhi, said this: “The teachers don’t let us participate in any sports. Class monitors are always chosen from among Hindu boys and they always complain about us Muslim boys.”
6. Sharda, a Dalit girl, said she was withdrawn from school by her parents because they were worried about her safety. She was married at age 14 against her will. Before her wedding, when she went to school despite her parents’ refusal, she found that her name was no longer in the school register. While some villagers cautioned her father against marrying her at such a young age, no local authorities or members of the gram panchayat intervened.
Read the full report here