May 29, 2015 3:23:23 am
A report on the educational status of scheduled castes in Maharashtra has found that the benefits of reservation in education have reached the children of only 7.6 per cent SC households.
The report on Maharashtra has been compiled by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). It is part of a nationwide study of SCs and STs in 19 states, commissioned by the Indian Council of Social Science Research.
The Maharashtra report notes that the count of SCs availing reservation is low despite the fact that 77.8 per cent SCs said they were aware of the reservation policy. In fact, 67.4 per cent SCs said they couldn’t take the reserved seats because of “administrative and related problems”.
“The very term ‘administrative problems’ indicates that the administrative processes for reservations are problematic in nature. A number of reasons were cited by the households, ranging from non-cooperation of schools or colleges, to apathy among the officials in charge,” says the report by Prof Govardhan Wankhede, former dean of TISS’s School of Education.
“The state of Maharashtra has a long history of social and political reforms and is considered a progressive state when it comes to SC/ST issues,” Wankhede told The Indian Express. “Given the current global situation and the role of education for social inclusion, it is pertinent to know the educational situation of SCs… An intensive field work was carried out in Nagpur, Osmanabad, Jalgaon, Sindhudurg and Mumbai. The respondents were students from class-8 to higher levels of education, besides parents, teachers, heads of households, schools and colleges,” he said.
The study covered 1,120 SC households (2,547 members) and 466 non-SC households (1,056 members). The non-SCs had a comparable background and included OBCs, Muslims, Marathas, Rajputs and Brahmans.
The report says that data on adequacy of provisions and utility of availing benefits provided by the government is disheartening. While 80.5 per cent SCs were aware of post-matric scholarship, only 17.6 per cent had availed this facility. And though 79.8 per cent were aware of freeships and scholarships, just 22.1 per cent availed those.
The study notes that 23.4 per cent SC household heads want their children to become doctors and engineers, while 19.6 per cent want them to be teachers or PhD degree holders and researchers. “The awareness of importance of education among household heads for their children, therefore, seems to be high. However, the question of expectations and the means to fulfil these expectations need further probing,..” it says.
Some of the study’s other findings
RATION CARDS: The ration card held by a household, says the study, is crucial because it is a direct indicator of the family’s income and the most important document in relation to various schemes. “… Almost half our sample of SC households either had a BPL card or had not been accounted for in government systems,” the study says.
TRADITIONAL OCCUPATIONS: With 19.8 per cent SC households still in traditional occupations, the study says it is evident that most SC communities have not been able to break through the traditional barriers and obtain jobs in other fields.
ENGLISH: Among SC families, 61.9 per cent first children, 44.7 per cent second children and 20 per cent third children were studying in Marathi institutions. “The demand for English medium institutions is slowly rising. As the government has not been able to fulfil this demand… most of the institutions that provide English education tend to be privately run,” the study says.
To questions about discrimination in educational institutions, 96.3 per cent households agreed that access to schools was easy. The study says this is a positive indicator but calls for a further probe as to whether SC household heads can admit their children in the schools of their choice.
In college, 64.5 per cent SC students said they had never faced discrimination on the basis of “economic status and condition” while 11.4 per cent said they had faced discrimination frequently and 18.6 per cent said that they sometimes did.
“On the basis of ‘caste’, 63.8 per cent responded in the negative while 19.3 per cent said that they faced discrimination sometimes. Additionally, 12.1 per cent students said that they frequently faced caste discrimination.
Discrimination based on caste, therefore, summed up to a significant 31.40 per cent. On basis of ‘religion’, 11.4 per cent said they faced discrimination sometimes and 10.1 per cent frequently,” the study says.
“It was observed that SC students face direct and indirect discrimination even when using the affirmative action policy [reservation],” the report says. “For example, students are usually at the receiving end of comments such as ‘you are being admitted to this college because of the quota system’, ‘you don’t deserve to be here’, ‘you are using up all our (open category) seats’, and so on. Therefore, comments and taunts, which may not always be direct, are a very common feature of a SC student’s life.”
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