If a sample study conducted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS),Mumbai,is anything to go by,schools in Maharashtra have failed to bridge the caste divide between students.
The study found that more 60 per cent of standards VII and IX students at Talsar village in Ratnagiri district want to make same-caste friends,while 40.5 per cent are against inter-caste marriage.
Further,35.7 per cent of students said they would prefer a same-caste sports captain and 23 per cent said different caste people should not stay together.
The village has Marathas,Buddhists,Guravs,Kunabis,Dhangars,Katkaris and Sutars.
The shocking findings that imply caste discrimination has already started taking root among the students aged 12-15 years have been mentioned in a paper by research scholar Sameer Vishram.
The paper attempted to assess the role of schools in minimising the gap between different caste students.
Of the students surveyed,51.2 per cent justified a horoscope check before marriage,indicating that schools have failed promote logical and critical thinking.
I will not fall in love with any other caste girl is a response that suggests children too think inter-caste marriages are unacceptable,said Sameer.
One can see the settlement of this village of 15 hamlets is based on caste. The children from this village are well aware of their caste. They grow with friends from own caste and hence,we tried to understand the role of schools in bridging the caste divide. My findings show the schools have failed to create a space where there is inter-caste interaction on a daily basis. So-called higher castes do not make friends with those from so-called lower castes. Incidentally,73.8 per cent of students said no one ever discussed casteism with them, he said.
Though around 54.8 per cent did not agree lower caste students are not good at studies,at least 27.4 per cent said only upper castes were good,pointing to a stereotype.
The study,however,shows views on caste hierarchy are still getting formed among students as 45.2 per cent did not know perceived higher ones and 56 per cent perceived lower ones.
16.6 per cent said Maratha was the highest caste,while 13 per cent said Buddhist was the lower caste. Only 9.5 per cent said all castes were equal. This shows a sense of caste hierarchy is still not fully formed and schools have a big role to play in breaking caste stereotypes, Sameer said.
As for voting,40.5 per cent of students said they would prefer an own-caste candidate,while 34.5 per cent wanted to vote for someone good.
Six years later,the students will be eligible to vote. Though 38.8 per cent of Maratha students would like to vote for whoever is good,30.5 per cent wanted to vote for an own-caste candidate. Almost half of Buddhist,Kunabi and Dhangar students also wanted to vote along caste lines, the paper says.
44 per cent of students agreed all families needs heirs,while an equal percentage said a son would eventually own the family home
48.8 per cent said after the death of her husband,a woman should not wear colourful clothes,bindis,bangles
66.7 per cent said girls should be back home before 7 pm and 63.1 per cent said they should not wear skirts to movies
58.3 per cent of male students surveyed said they would not allow their sisters to wear skirts
58.3 per cent said chopping vegetables was the work of both genders,while 38.1 per cent said girls only
52.4 per cent said cooking was the work of both genders,while 45.2 per cent said it was the responsibility of girls
73.8 per cent said boys can do technical works better than girls
78.6 per cent agreed women were better caretakers than men
46.4 per cent said no one discussed gender inequalities with them
25 per cent said they did not know why they are made to sit separately in a class