New Education Policy, Adivasi’s old problems: A Perspective from Below

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  7 Sep 2020 9:24 AM GMT
New Education Policy, Adivasi’s old problems: A Perspective from Below

By Prof. Ramdas Rupavath.

In the view of persistent connections between New Education Policy Adivasi and marginalised community old Problems and education .This article looks at the database in tribal education to discover to level it replicates the poverty of tribal school children.

However, even after seventy four years of independence, the literacy levels of the tribal people have not

risen to the desired levels. On top, there is the issue of high dropout rates (70.9%, according to a recent study) among the tribal.

In such a situation, it is important to find out why tribal communities are still lagging behind in the education sector.It will also try to examine the linkage between poverty and education. . It is a proven fact that students learn better and retain more when they are active participants should begin with merging poverty data among tribal children, which could help to address central issues associated to tribes and poverty at micro levels. Is it an Exclusion Policy? Can New Education policy protect the Social Justice?

Various educational policies and government initiatives at the national level in India have aimed at improving the

literacy rate of the tribal communities. However, even after seventy-three years of independence, the literacy levels of the tribal people have not risen to the desired levels. On top, there is the issue of high dropout rates 1 (70.9%, according to a recent study) among the Tribals.

In the age of globalisation, many countries of the world have succeeded in providing equitable treatment to their citizens, but in India some sections of the society, especially the tribal community, have remained distant from the mainstream of the society. Hence, most of them have not been able to enjoy the benefit of the growth or development. Though some development of the tribes has taken place in India, the pace has been rather slow.

If the government does not take some drastic steps for the development of tribal education, the status of education among tribes will be a story of distress, despair and death. Hence, it is imperative for the concerned policy makers to address this problem in a holistic manner. Easy access and more opportunities should be provided to the tribal children in order to bring them to the mainstream of economic development.

India is a pluralist country, with rich diversity, reflected in the multitude of cultures, religions, languages and racial stocks, which has made the social fabric highly stratified and hierarchical. As a result, social and economic opportunities are differentially distributed on the lines of caste and class affiliations. The

country has large tracts of hinterland, hilly terrain, a dense forest cover and fertile coastal belts, besides the Indo-Gangetic plains.

Such divergence in ecology and geography has ensured an occupational and spatial differentiation. Still, the

predominant occupation is agriculture for three- quarters of Indians. Almost 80 per cent of India’s population lives in rural areas.

Tribal India is characterised by the lack of infrastructural facilities and widespread poverty and indebtedness. This has led to the perpetuation of layers of inequalities and disparities at various levels. This has hampered the socio-economic development of large sections of society, especially the deprived groups. Such a social deprivation is tellingly reflected in their educational backwardness.

The preponderance of an elitist and discriminatory social order has led to certain segments of the population remaining disadvantages. In course of time, the gap between them and others has further widened. This

segmentation of the population, in terms of their access to social and economic opportunities and their participation in the process of development, is based on two factors. The first is the spatial differentiation, which refers to the viability of a region in terms of its geographical location. If a region is well served by roadways, is near to areas of political, financial, industrial or business and entrepreneurial importance, not hindered by natural barriers, etc.

While the Scheduled Tribes have been at the lowest rung of the Hindu social order, subjected to social and economic

deprivation, i.e,poverty and hunger, due to their ‘lowly’ occupations, the Scheduled Tribes had suffered physical isolation, kept remote from civilization, and have, therefore, maintained their cultural uniqueness. Consequently, both the groups lag far behind others, in terms of social and economic development. The Indian government has also banned child labour so that the children do not enter unsafe occupations.

However, both free education and the ban on child labour are difficult to enforce, due to economic disparity and social conditions. As many as 80% of all recognised schools at the elementary stage are government run or supported by it, making it the largest provider of education in the country.

Scheduled Tribe groups have traditionally lived in more remote areas of the country and in closer proximity to forests and natural resources. However, modernisation and accumulative processes of production have resulted in massive encroachment into their natural habitats. This has, in turn, resulted in their displacement, poverty and heightened levels of exploitation through a system of bonded labour.

The term ‘double disadvantage’ has been used to characterise the socio-economic and spatial marginalisation of Scheduled Tribes in India. “Why is it so important to close the educational gaps, and to remove the

enormous disparities in educational access, inclusion and achievement? One important reason for this is for making the world more secure, as well as fairer. H.G Wells was not exaggerating when he said, in his Outline of History: “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” If we continue to leave vast sections of the people of the world outside the orbit of education, we make the world not only less just, but also less secure” (Amartya Sen,2003).

The poor quality of infrastructure, teaching, and curriculum that neither relates to the socio-cultural lives of the Scheduled Tribes, nor teaches them about their history, etc., have all contributed to many tribal communities becoming disenchanted with the present system of education, which they perceive is only alienating them from their ethos andtraditions. John Dewey who was one of the educationalist reformists was of the opinion that in most of the cases human beings acquire knowledge through ‘hands-on’ approach and he had claimed that students must interact with their environment so that they learn and get adapted4 2.Rousseau, in his theory on education, had cited the importance of expression which can generate a well-balanced and freethinking child4 3.In an investigation on the tribal communities of India.

Battles that the point of view received for instructive advancement of ancestral networks neglects to address the

particular hindrances portraying the inborn populace satisfactorily 4 .Rupavath (2016) claimed that there had been an enormous number of government initiatives that are aimed and focussed at improving the standard and quality of life among the marginalized communities in India, in which free and compulsory education for them is one of the brilliant initiative.

Recommended that educator inspiration contributes more to instructing learning process than instructor fitness. Has also explored that, in most of the school dropout cases among the marginalized communities, Adivasi's and Dalits are forming the most significant numbers in which further the girl ratio is more than their counterparts.

Indian State and Schooling of Children

The Indian Constitution is committed to the equality of all citizens. The Directive Principles of the States Policy (DPSP) also speak about the need “to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society, and, in particular, of the SCs/STs.” To achieve ‘equality’ with its many facets, special provisions have been made in the Constitution of India. Article 46 of the Constitution states: “The State shall promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of social exploitation. Articles 330, 332, 335, 338 to 342 and the entire Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution deal with special provisions for implementation of the objectives set forth in

Article 46.

They have been previously described as ‘aborigines’, ‘aboriginals’, ‘primitives’, ‘Adivasis’, ‘Vana Jatis’, etc.

Special provisions have been made in Articles 46, 275, 330, 332, 335, 338, 340, etc., to safeguard the interests of Scheduled Tribes and to protect them from social injustice and exploitation.

India, has the single largest tribal population in the world, constituting 9.8 per cent of the total population of the country (as per Census 2011).The 574 individual tribal groups are at various levels of social and economic development, with different degrees of exposure to modernity and social change. Most of the tribal-concentrated areas lack basic facilities, such as roads, transport, communications, electricity, sanitation and medical facilities. The literacy rate among tribal is low, but also varies widely among different groups and regions. More importantly, a considerable portion of tribal children continue to be

outside the school system.

Planning for education is very often norm-based. However, it is now admitted that flexibility in

norms alone cannot help to universalise the access conditions for primary education. Hence, many innovative approaches are being tested in various states. One of the successful recent innovative strategies is that of establishing community schools,called ‘Maabadi’ (meaning ‘our school’ in the local tribal language), in Andhra Pradesh, in place of government schools in small and scattered habitations, where formal schools, according to the existing norms, even after relaxation of rules, are not possible. Education is an effective instrument to bring about changes in the attitude and aspirations of people 5.

According to Mahatma Gandhi, education means an all-round development that draws out the best in an individual – physically, mentally and spiritually. The effective literacy rate for India in Census 2011, works out to 74.04 percent (males, 82.14% and females, 65.46%). The country has continued its march towards improving its literacy rate, by recording a jump of 9.21 percentage points during the period 2001-2011. The increase in literacy rates in males and females are of the order of 6.88 and 11.79 percentage points respectively. The Census, 2011, highlights that different education policies of the states have focused on different themes for the educational development of the tribals.

Poverty and Education Indicators

Primary education or elementary education is typically the first stage of compulsory education. Coming between early childhood education and secondary education, in most countries, it is compulsory for children to receive at least primary education. The major goals of primary education are: achieving basic literacy and numeracy among all pupils, as well as establishing foundations in science , mathematics , geography , history and other social sciences .The Millennium Development Goal of the United Nations was to achieve universal primary education by the year 2015, by which time, it was envisaged that all children everywhere, regardless of race or gender, would be able to complete at least primary schooling.

Due to the shortage of resources and lack of political will, this system suffers from massive gaps. These include: high pupil- to-teacher ratios, shortage of infrastructure and poor levels of teacher training. Education has also been made free for children for 6 to 14 years of age or up to class VIII under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

Due to this, many private run schools have been came to existence.The following section will analyses various aspects like socio-economic background of the students, infrastructural facilities of the schools, student participation in learning and discrimination faced in schools. This section will basically deal with the

perceptions of primary school students on the above aspects. It is almost a foregone conclusion that the girl children, especially in rural India, are generally discriminated against in the matter of providing education. The underlying justification is: ‘how will education be useful for a girl who would later have to perform only domestic tasks?

It has already been mentioned that there are some 574 tribal groups in India. It is equally interesting that some of these tribal groups have sub-groups among them. The members of each such sub-group tend to have a closer bonding among themselves and follow almost identical occupations. The sub-tribes seem to be concentrated in some pockets.

The table below should give an idea of the major sub-castes to which the respondents belong. The survey area showed a wide tapestry of sub-castes.As per the Tribal Cultural Research and Training Institute (TCRTI), 35 tribal communities were identified.

Among them, only a few (Five) tribes were covered, as per the methodology. Among the three districts studied, Anantapur and Hyderabad have a high concentration of Banjaras (55.55% and 74.07% respectively), whereas in Vishakhapatnam District, the majority respondents are the Yandi’s 29.25%). Yerukalas have a significant presence (35.80%) in Anantapur district.

Similarly, Bagatas were found (23.45%) are very noticeable in Vishakhapatnam district. Pradhans do not have a

noticeable presence in any of the districts.Ownership of land and accommodation has come to be associated with social status and dignity of an individual, especially in rural areas. This issue imparts some ‘standing’ to him or her in the society in which he or she stays. Also, in times of need, such a person can approach a banking or financial institution more confidently for a loan since he or she has some collateral to offer.

A person who does not possess ‘worthwhile’ assets, can easily fall prey to loan sharks and fall into a debt

trap from which it may become very difficult to escape. This point is considered relevant to the present study since the type of residence of a person can have a bearing on his or her attitude towards education. A person leading a nomadic life cannot generally be expected to pay much attention to the education of his or her children. The Table below can give an idea of the situation in the three districts.

The type of house in which one resides is much more than a status symbol. For a student, it could determine

whether the atmosphere is congenial for study at home, or not. For instance, a pucca house almost invariably connotes adequate living space and availability of facilities like electricity and running water. On the other hand, a hut or a kutcha house may not have electricity (obviously due to the fire hazard) and running tap water (due to which most of the female respondents may be obliged to help in bringing water from outside sources, which may erode the time available for study).

Electricity is an important index of the quality of life of any community in the modern times. This is also considered as a symbol of minimum development. This not only makes life more comfortable, it also makes it easier for students to study at night. An encouraging feature noticed was that the largest number of respondents replied in the affirmative.

A domestic toilet is yet another important social development index of any community. Presence of a domestic toilet can also be regarded as an indicator of the level of education of the concerned person. Such a toilet is not only about good sanitation practices, it also entails the dignity and safety of females, who face a greater risk of insect/reptile bites and molestation than males, when they are forced to defecate in the open (for want of a domestic toilet). Above Poverty Line (APL)

This is a yardstick conceived by the government so as to identify the families who should be specifically provided social welfare benefits. The APL families are conceived as having a degree of financial stability; hence they are not the first priority for the welfare schemes. The communications revolution seems to have taken roots in the study area as well. This becomes clear from the higher proportion of positive responses on ownership of phones/mobile phones. This also establishes that here too, the residents understand the need to stay instantly connected with their associates. For students, it can be useful for discussing issues regarding their studies.

Difficulty in Getting Admission in the School

It is one issue to loudly proclaim that now there is universal access to education. Of greater concern is how many of the intended beneficiaries are able to avail of the opportunities now open to them. One of the impediments to universal access to education is the difficulty in getting admission to a school. This may be largely due to unhelpful attitude of the concerned administrators.

A very encouraging factor that emerged in the study area is that respondents belonging to all categories of

schools almost unanimously averred that they did not find any difficulty in getting admission in the school. This shows that generally school authorities are not showing discrimination in the matter of admissions .The major hurdle could have been the insistence of the school authorities on production of certain documents which were not readily available.

For education to be meaningful,cooperation of the parents is most essential. It is they who should show interest in their children getting educated and motivate them to study. However, reasons like the need to earn money for the family disinterest in studies, or social/family commitments could be responsible for the irregular attendance of some students. The Table below can be reasonably ‘educative’ on this issue. Lack of Interest by Parents A very significant that emerges is that,except in Anantapur, Scheduled Tribe parents appear to be more keen than their non-SC/ST counterparts to provide education to their children.

This points to their desire to provide a better quality of life to their children. Distance of School this emerged as a noticeable ‘demotivate’ for the non-SC/ST respondents in all the three districts. This is rather enigmatic since government schools are not supposed to charge fees from the students. The obvious conclusion that can be drawndrom such responses is that government schools were not very popular in the study area even for poor families.

It is clear that not many ST respondents had ‘issues’ with the fees. A possible reason for many students not attending schools regularly is the hostile attitude of either their teachers, or their fellow students. Any child would like to study in a conducive atmosphere, where he or she is not unduly humiliated on grounds of his or her caste, family background, financial status, or colour of the skin. Contrary to the general perception that many Scheduled Tribe students are forced to stay away from school due to the need to perform tasks like attending to domestic chores, or attending to their younger siblings (when their parents go out for work), a greater proportion of non-SC/ST respondents mentioned this as a reason for their not attending school regularly.

These have two dimensions. One is the inability to pay the fees and two, obliging the children to work,

instead of going for study. One cannot totally ignore the fact that a very noticeable proportion of both ST and non-SC/ST respondents in Hyderabad mentioned this as a reason. These can be major de-motivators for studying. A student may not be interested in studies, but feel shy to admit that. One need to take cognisance of the fact that none of the non-SC/ST respondents mentioned these as reasons for their irregular attendance in school. Prolonged spells of ill-health, either of self or of someone in the family (when the person is obliged to take of that individual), can also be a cause of absence from school.

In this case too, none of the non-SC/ST respondents in the three districts cited this as a reason. For the ST

respondents too, this did not emerge as a major de-motivator. Here too, none of the non-SC/ST respondents in the three districts cited this as a reason. However, a noticeable proportion of the ST respondents did cite this as responsible for the irregular attendance. This suggests that many STs continue to attach a lot of importance to their festivals and rituals.

Perception of Poverty and Education

Participation is an extreme crucial element of learning, since students can learn better and retain more when they are active participants. However, our education system involves the banking system which is largely a one-way process. Here, the students are the depositories and the teachers are the depositors. The general tendency of many teachers is to ‘deposit’ knowledge, which the students patiently receive, memorise, and repeat. Such an approach can lead to lack of creativity,transformation, and knowledge in this system. The study sought to ascertain how well the education system is meeting the felt needs of Tribal students and the degree to which it is socially relevant to them.

As regard the teaching methods, an ideal teacher would target the lowest common denominator of the students and make an effort that the lessons are properly understood by majority of the students. After all, a school is not a forum for a teacher to parade his or her knowledge. A good teacher must also encourage the students to ask questions and seek clarifications,before moving on to another topic. Our scriptures have conferred an almost divine status on the teachers.

Hence, the teachers should serve as friends, philosophers and guides for the students – and not be persons who instil fear in them. A related issue is the medium of instruction. A number of students may not be very conversant with even the regional languages like Telugu - leave aside English. When instructions are imparted in such languages, it would be very difficult for such students to understand what is being taught.

In an ideal situation, the teacher should be able to lapse into the local language of majority of the students to make the lesson more interesting. After all, learning should be a pleasurable experience – and not something which is being forced from above. During personal interactions with the student respondents in the study area, it emerged that many of them are too scared to respond to questions asked by the teachers. A possible reason for this is the fear of being humiliated in case the answers are wrong. Such a scenario is definitely not conducive for effective teaching-learning.

Another issue of interest explored during the study was the relationship between the teacher and the student. A

cordial relationship can remove the fear psychosis and the shy nature of the students. This will also enable the teacher to understand students in a better way. A good relationship between the teacher and the students can check the dropout rates.

The teacher can clarify the doubts and the students can clarify it from the teachers without any hesitation. This will not only improve the participation level, but also strengthen the education system.

It has been found by various studies that some of the teachers take initiative to address the problems regarding the subject matter with the students. However, it has been observed that many students’ are hesitating to approach teachers, even if they have doubts in the subject. This is found more so often in the case of tribal students. Private tuitions cannot be a viable option since most households may not be able to afford these.


Education is the key to tribal development, Tribal children have very low levels of participation. Though the development of the tribes is taking place in India, the pace of development has been rather slow. If the government does not take some drastic steps, the status of education among tribes will continue to be pathetic.

Hence, the time has come to think it seriously about tribal education and inclusive growth. The time has come to move beyond the ‘banking system of education’ and provide more avenues for Scheduled Tribe students to engage with education. Governmental educational institutions need to be sensitised to find ways to retain and promote tribal students. The steps of acknowledging and preserving the tribal culture and integrity are valuable assets for a tribal child. It is necessary to revisit the pedagogy,Curriculum and fine-tune it in accordance with the aspirations and felt needs of tribal students.

It is the need of the hour for the schools to sensitise, assimilate and incorporate tribal culture and values. In doing so, education can become an interesting and enjoyable learning experience for tribal students. The students would not then hesitate to ask questions or have fear psychosis as they could relate to their teachers well. In the process, schools and college would do the nation proud in uplifting the status of tribal by acting as incubators of change. National education Policy 2020, ignores the old problems of Socially, Economically backwardness of the marginalised groups and especially Adivasi’s socio, cultural Identities. To push the marginalised students out of the mainstream to division labourers in the guise of vocational training.


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PROF. Dr. RAMDAS RUPAVATH, Head, Centre For Human Rights,Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences,University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad.

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