The Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM) in Kerala,which has been exhorting Dalits to shun Hindu religion and embrace Buddhism,has floated a parallel English school for children. Started on an experimental basis,the move is significant as DHRM wants to demonstrate the Dalit identity without the tag of the Hindu society.
Titled Home School,4-year-old children,eligible for LKG class,would sit in their homes,where DHRM cadre would go frequently to take lessons. The outfit has selected 42 students from south Kerala,who will not go to regular schools,but will attend the classes imparted by DHRM cadres at their homes. They would be given general education for next three years.
The initiative was launched in Thiruvananthapuram last week. The students were given textbooks with each ones photo on the front cover and their parents on the back.
Dalit children were found wanting in English education. Many are neglected and insulted in mainstream schools. We decided to start a new school system exclusively for Dalits. Buddhist teachings would get special thrust in the higher classes in the coming years, said Elakamon Vinod,DHRM leader in charge of the school project. DHRM state committee member K Saji said it has been a difficult task to convince parents about this parallel education system. The home school would be shifted from houses to a common centre next year. We want our children grow with a Dalit perspective, he said.
Started in 2007 as a regrouping of Dalit workers in various political parties,DHRM has been campaigning against caste system. Its followers have stopped going to temples and Ambedkar is being worshipped in homes.
The organisation came to limelight after its workers were arrested on charges of a murder at Varkala near Thiruvananthapuram in 2009.