[Reader-list] Of politics, economics, ideology and education: third post

rinchin etc rinchin at gmail.com
Sat Apr 15 18:44:35 IST 2006

in continuation with the second posting
Here  is one extract of an interview with a  family . The discussion
reflects on issues over generations and seems like a small complete
narrative on its own.

this is an interview of a family, in which the grand father was the first
dalit man in the town to get an education . We were sent to him by Soni bua
who had taught him and his sons  in the mission school. The interview  gives
a context of the change in peoples access and perception of education in the
town. from the times of the father to the time where  options are bieng
dicussed for the oldest and youngest grandaughter. You can read the complete
interview at: www.imly-tree.blogspot.com , the newly created blog for the

Some of the issues this converstaion brought out  were, that the forms of
discrimination in education may have changed in relation to gender and
caste, but they continue to exist in forms more subtle. There is a certain
blindness to the marginalisation of these groups that seems to have
developed over time. Since discrimination was defined in more severe and
visible forms (as untouchability or restricted access to spaces) in memory,
its subtler but equally restrictive forms are missed. The reality, which
encompassed these forms of discrimination, is seen as a historical
occurrence, which may have carried over as muted anger, which needs to be
dealt with in political expression rather than in everyday living.

The sons, who have not faced extreme discrimination, still feel strongly
about the oppression of the father and look to more vocal and radical ideas
and expression against it, while the father himself talks of softer methods
of fighting discrimination. Separate organizing also points towards the
growth of dalit mobilising in haat pippaliya.

There has also been a co-option of ideology – political and social in the
stands that are taken by the institutions we have begun to explore in these
discussion. Saraswati Shishu Mandir, provides a good example. Looking at he
profile of their students and teachers, one finds that they include Dalits
and people of different religions, though they may have started out with a
more exclusive agenda. However, though these seem contradictory to its
ideology, they exist as parallels imparting to it a complex character that
allows them to blend into their environments and gain from it but also
retaining the potential to revert back to its original form when required.
As Rajendra rightly pointed out, they (the RSS) would actively call for the
banning of schools with other religious affiliation when the need arose. The
school infrastructure is used for RSS meetings and activities. But if it is
done with out interfering with the school timings and teaching, the parents
have no complaints.

For the parents, education and the institution to which they send the
children is largely governed by two factors- affordibilty and the quality of
education ( "results" was often used interchangeably). This is brought out
well by Rajendra " i will do what is best for my children, our aim is to see
that they get a base from which to reach as far as they can." I don't agree
with the RSS ideology but if their school gives good education, then i will
send my children there. As long as the school doesn't discriminate against
them actively." This kind of compromise or split in ideology brings out
clearly how education is mainly looked as a profession with clear parameters
for quality and purpose, namely results and the opportunities that it gives
to children. This works both ways for parents as well as institutions. But
institutions will always as mentioned above, will always have the choice of
reverting back to a stand when the choose, or soften their stand.

None of the private schools, focused specifically on education for dalit or
girl children, not even the mission school. Though it had started out with
that vision six decades ago. While it was mentioned in the above interview
as well as several times in other conversations that we had with various
people, that a special focus is not needed in these times, the fact that
Malti is the first girl of the neighborhood to have studied till 11th, hints
otherwise. It is only in government schools, that there are schemes that
encourage girls and dalit children to come to school. Where teachers have a
target in getting children to school. And it is here that one has to see
their importance of policy. The only two exclusively girls schools are
government schools. All the private schools are co-educational, and for them
the need would be to have more children enrolled in their school, dalit or
girls. As long as they bring in their fees.
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