Dalit children being made to sit and eat separately from other children, being beaten, abused and forced to do humiliating tasks, form part of the cases uncovered during the ‘Zero Discrimination in School Education’ campaign in India. These cases are highlighted in the report ‘Exclusion in Schools – A Study on Practice of Discrimination and Violence’ by the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ-NCDHR) and the Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion.
The campaign raises awareness across India of the serious obstacles to education encountered by Dalit and Adivasi students and issues key recommendations for change. In connection with the campaign public hearings and consultations took place across India, where students, parents and teachers could voice their experiences, difficulties and challenges in the education system. A study on discrimination in education was simultaneously undertaken in eight key States resulting in the report ‘Exclusion in Schools – A Study on Practice of Discrimination and Violence’. The report documents serious human rights violations of Dalit and minority students in schools in the states surveyed.
“Although we were well aware of the serious discrimination faced by Dalit and minority students in our country, listening to our children tell their stories of abuse, violence and discrimination is heart-breaking,” said Ramesh Nathan from NDMJ. “The Government, States and school authorities, must urgently take serious measures to ensure that our schools do not engage in descent based discrimination, hurt, abuse and humiliation and actively protect our children’s right to an education by enacting Anti-Discrimination legislation.”
Discrimination is violating the right to education
The cases listed in the report reflect the gravity of discrimination children face, ranging from humiliation and segregation to examples of violence and sexual abuse carried out by teachers or institutionalized in the school culture. The mental and physical abuse endured by the children result in increased drop-out rates from schools of Dalit and minority children. For those children who stay in schools that sanction discrimination, the fear and humiliation they face make it very difficult for them to focus on their studies, and learn what they need to in order to progress in the school system.
Case: Dalit students beaten for drinking water from the Principal’s pot
In a Government school in Rajasthan the Principal, from the dominant Jat caste, forced eleven Dalit students to squat for the whole day and brutally beat them claiming that they defiled his pot by drinking water from it.
The parents of the students complained at the unacceptable behavior and blatant practice of untouchability of the principal, who subsequently told all eleven students that they were no longer to come to school.
Based on suggestions from students, teachers, rights defenders and community leaders comprehensive recommendations are issued in the report. The recommendations are grouped into four sections: Central Government, State Governments, Commissions, and Education Department and School Management. Please read the full list of recommendations in the final chapter of the report.
Read the full report ‘EXCLUSION IN SCHOOLS – A Study on Practice of Discrimination and Violence´ here (published by: National Dalit Movement for Justice-NCDHR)