Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tribal education deserves greater government attention

Tribal education deserves greater government attention

28th August 2012 11:50 PM
A recent review of the state of tribal education presents a poor picture of efforts by the central and state governments in bringing India’s tribal population into the national mainstream. The study, conducted by the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, on behalf of UNICEF, has found that the tribals receive the ‘lowest cost, poorest-quality and indifferently administered education’. The study reviewed educational programmes in educationally backward blocks in tribal areas of different states and concluded that most tribal specific schemes run by the government are poorly implemented, go unmonitored, and are often inadequate. It also underlines that the system of education has failed to recognise the aspirations, needs and predicament of Adivasis. Naxal violence has made things worse, leading to ‘widespread destruction of Adivasi homes, livelihoods and larger support structure, including healthcare, schools and spaces for civic action’.
The report cites the example of tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh where a significant proportion of the schools are by the roadside or highways, though most tribals live in forests and hilly tracts. According to the study, factors such as these explain why tribals remain at the bottom of the ladder in terms of educational achievements and why there is a huge increase in the dropout rate even before students reach the secondary level of schooling. The dropout rate is higher among girls.
 The special programmes for Adivasis in higher educational institutions have not translated into assuring them ‘improved access to education nor have they resulted in net benefits for the community as a whole’, adds the report, noting that the bulk of tribal student fellowships and opportunities in higher education end up being cornered by influential segments of the ST population. It goes without saying that this must change and the Centre should review the status of tribal education with state governments to ensure that the tribals receive better and relevant education. Quality education can also be a major tool in combating the Maoist menace.

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