In Bihar school, students made to sit caste-wise to ‘identify dole beneficiaries’https://indianexpress.com/article/education/in-bihar-school-students-made-to-sit-caste-wise-to-identify-dole-beneficiaries-5501373/

In Bihar school, students made to sit caste-wise to ‘identify dole beneficiaries’

On Wednesday, the girl, in a written complaint to Lalganj Block Education Officer (BEO) Arvind Kumar Tiwari, maintained that “making students enrol and sit in classrooms on lines of caste (social groups) is violation of our fundamental rights.”

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GA High School in Lalganj.

Ever since Anjali Kumari, a Class X student of Bihar government-run GA High School in Lalganj, spoke up against the caste-wise sitting arrangement at her school, all benefits she is entitled to under various government schemes have been put on hold, allegedly by the school administration.

On Wednesday, the girl, in a written complaint to Lalganj Block Education Officer (BEO) Arvind Kumar Tiwari, maintained that “making students enrol and sit in classrooms on lines of caste (social groups) is violation of our fundamental rights.”

Another Class IX student of the school also said the practice has been going for the past four years.

The segregation of students on castelines came to light after the Vaishali District Education Officer sent a team to the school on Monday. A detailed inspection report in this regard has been sent to State Secondary Education Director.

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According to school records, the GA High School has more than 1,500 students in Classes IX to XII, and castes of each student is mentioned against their names on attendance sheets, reportedly to “help the school administration to easily identify beneficiaries” of all government schemes.

The attendance sheets have been seized by the Vaishali District Secondary Education Office.

Under various government schemes, a Class IX student is entitled to Rs 3,000 to purchase a bicycle; girl students from Classes IX to XII are entitled to Rs 1,000 for uniform and Rs 150 for sanitary napkins; students from Classes IX to XII are also entitled to Rs 1800 scholarship annually.

All the benefits are, however, given only against 75 per cent attendance.

Claiming that the report of compliance on government schemes are sought every month, and at times fortnightly, the school’s in-charge principal, Meena Kumari, said: “My predecessor, Phool Mohammed Ansari, had introduced segregation on caste lines in attendance register in 2014 and I have been following it because it has comes as handy to identify beneficiaries and prepare the reports.”

Dismissing the allegations of “dividing students on caste lines”, she, said: “One should know that we have only six classrooms, which can accommodate maximum 600 students. As we have a daily attendance of 50-60 per cent, we have to merge two sections (of a class) daily… There is no feeling of discrimination on caste lines. Nor have parents and students complained about it.” Meena Kumari has submitted a written explanations to the DEO.

Lalganj BEO AK Tiwari, however, said: “Attendance sheets on caste or social category lines is a bad practice. I have not heard of a Bihar school having such registers…” The BEO added they had warned the school administration about the practice twice after random inspections in 2017.

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Vaishali DEO, Sangeeta Sinha, said: “We had sent an inspection team to the school and found attendance registers in violation of rules. We have sent our report to Director, secondary education.”