Find out why marginalized Indian students Suffer discrimination in schools
The drop-out rate among the marginalized students in India gets higher amidst the central government’s strict implementation of Right to Education (RTE) Act of 2010. Reports said that the increase is due to widespread discrimination done by some teachers and other school officials against Dalits (former untouchables), Muslims, tribals, and other poor youths. Moreover, discrimination seem to persist since there are no current legal measures taken by authorities that would penalize offenders.
According to Meenakshi Ganguly, head of Human Rights Watch in India, the government has the prime responsibility to educate its citizens. In line with its aim of developing its human resources, the government enacted RTE Act which made basic education accessible to all children from age 6 to 14. However, while there has been an increase in annual school populations, many students opt to drop out after finishing seventh grade. Numbers of drop-outs is still uncertain because the definition of drop-out varies from one state to another.
Findings of Human Rights Watch show that discrimination against students based on their gender, religious, caste, and ethnic affiliation is the prime factor why drop-out rate escalates. Discrimination rampantly occurs in India’s four major states such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh. Majority of schools are composed of Hindu students who do not afford to go in low-priced private schools.
Many traumatized students told that they are being belittled by some of their classmates and even their teachers, who are of higher castes. For instance, they are segregated in classrooms and always sit in the back row. They are obliged to clean toilets and given least priority in food distribution during breaks.
In addition, Muslim students said that some of their teachers even question why their parents produce too many children when they are just earning meager salaries. Offended students cannot contain their anger and hit them. In return, they are reported to school principals and deem responsible for their violent acts.
Ironically, while the Indian constitution does not tolerate any form of discrimination, it does not stipulate any penalty for those committers. Through the RTE Act, the government set 2013 as the ultimatum for all states to provide students with competent teachers as well as adequate educational facilities. Despite government’s encouragement, there were many states which did not comply with the directive.