Marginalised children in India are denied education says report

Discrimination of marginalised children

Children from marginalised communities in India are being denied their right to an education, according to Human Rights Watch.

A report by the international organisation said many are treated badly, which leads to truancy and eventually stops children going to school.

Jayshree Bajoria, author of the report, said: “Instead of encouraging children from at-risk communities who are often the first in their families to ever step inside a classroom, teachers often neglect or even mistreat them.”

Children can be insulted by derogatory names, made to sit apart from other children, served food last and even made to clean toilets.

In 2009, India brought in a law that meant all children from ages six to 14 should get a free education.

The country has made great strides in providing education and every child is now enrolled in school. But UNICEF says 80million of the nearly 200million enrolled are likely to drop out before completing their elementary education.

The Human Rights Watch report – “They Say We’re Dirty”: Denying an Education to India’s Marginalised – conducted research in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi.

The organisation spoke to pupils, teachers and parents, as well as education experts, officials and activists.

The report found discrimination by school authorities against Dalit, tribal and Muslim children.

Bajoria said: “India’s immense project to educate all its children risks falling victim to deeply rooted discrimination by teachers and other school staff against the poor and marginalised.”

Panjak, an eight-year-old tribal boy from Uttar Pradesh, said: “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.”

Naresh, a 12-year-old Dalit boy from Bihar said: “We were asked to massage a teacher’s legs. If we refused, he used to beat us.

“There was a toilet for teachers, which is the one we had to clean.”

Human Rights Watch said most state education departments have failed to set up proper procedures to monitor each child and intervene to ensure they are at school.

Children of migrant workers, many belonging to Dalit and tribal communities, are most likely to drop out because they can be absent for long spells while searching for work with their parents.

You can find out more in our Explore channel about education issues in India.

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