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  • Writer's pictureChild Rights Centre, CNLU

Obstacles In the Path of Education for All

 
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

~ Nelson Mandela

Introduction

Education is the basis of society that provides economic success, social stability, and political stability. It empowers people to express themselves and demonstrate their true potential. Education and educational methods in schools and educational institutions that are consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child are referred to as children's human rights education. It promotes social cohesiveness and national identity by acting as an integrative force. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child makes it a legal responsibility of the signatory states to provide their children with this basic human right.


The Constitution of India, after its 86th amendment in 2002, included Article-21 A, which mandates free and compulsory elementary education for children under the age of 14 without any kind of discrimination. are as follows, Right of free and compulsory education -Article 45 of DPSP; Education for women - Article 15(1) (3); Promotion of education and economic interests of SC, ST and other weaker sections - Article 46; Religious education -Article 25 28(1), (2), (3); Education of minorities, protection of interests of minorities- Article 29[1] are the constitutional provisions that deal with equality in education. Despite the existence of these several legislations, India's literacy rate is 74.04 percent as of 2011. In contrast, the average global literacy rate is 84 percent. When it comes to access to education, discrimination includes various factors that prevent students from having equal access to different levels of education, as well as access to quality education. Students, whether in school or college, face prejudice based on caste, sex, birthplace, and other factors which not hampers their education but also cause them to suffer mental and physical stress. This article is an attempt to get a deeper understanding of their sufferings.


Gender-based Discrimination

The male literacy rate in India as of 2011 is 82.14% which is 16.68% greater than the female literacy rate. The figures are not much astonishing as gender discrimination cases are very prevalent in our country, specifically in remote areas. The gender difference in education is one of the most fundamental problems faced in developing countries. Not only females are victims of gender discrimination but also the citizens belonging to the LGBTQ community. Nearly three-quarters of LGBTQ students experience verbal abuse because of their sexual orientation, and more than half have experienced verbal abuse as a result of their sexual orientation. With education institutions being shifted online during the pandemic, the situation even worsened. According to the most recent data from IAMAI-Nielsen, about 30% of the rural population has an internet connection, compared to more than half of urbanites. This percentage climbs to 65 percent in major cities. An apparent gender disparity runs through these axes. Women account for only 35% of all internet users.


Impacts Gender-based Discrimination

Women's position in society has a direct impact on the health of that society. Young girls are not educated in many communities because they are seen as a drain on the family's resources. Negative school settings have long-term implications for LGBTQ children, which influence future life choices such as further education, as well as self-esteem and depression. The same applies to the females of remote areas. The figures mentioned in the above paragraph clearly demonstrate that women are being denied access to schooling during the pandemic since everything has gone online, which could hamper their future growth.


Caste-based Discrimination

The Indian Census of 1901 formally established the specific castes of Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra. The lowest caste — the “untouchables” or Dalits — was considered so beneath Indian society that they were not recognized in the census. Following independence, the government worked to establish a "casteless society." In university admissions, government employment, and political positions, caste was legally abolished. A system of quotas or reservations was established for the once "untouchable" caste groups (Scheduled castes or SCs and Scheduled tribes (STs). According to a survey conducted by an IIT in 2018, individuals from the SC/ST groups made up 18.3% of the population in the 17–25 age range in urban India in 1999–2000. However, only 11.3 percent of them had completed high school (2008). Only 7.4 percent of college graduates were from the SC and ST categories (2006).


Despite the fact that a considerable number of constitutional rights and legislation against discrimination exist, the marginalized communities continue to experience prejudice in India. Children from Dalit groups, ethnicities, and Muslims are often forced to sit in the back of the classroom or in separate rooms, called derogatory names, denied leadership roles, and are served last. Even children from traditional wealthy households are asked to clean toilets merely because they belong to lower caste communities.


Impacts Caste-based Discrimination on Students

Jayshree Banoja's 77-page report, titled "They Say We're Dirty: Denying an Education to India's Marginalized," mentions about a kid stating, "The instructor usually had us sit in the corner of the room, and would throw keys at us [when she was furious]."We only got food if there were any leftovers after the other kids were fed. We eventually stopped attending school. Marginalization, social isolation, and physical abuse occur at every level of schooling, from elementary to university. Civic services such as power, water, and sanitation are poor in regions with a preponderance of SC, ST, or Muslim groups, according to a UNICEF report from 2014. Due to a variety of social and physical reasons, Dalit illiteracy and dropout rates are pretty high. Discrimination against Dalits is similarly widespread at higher education institutions, where senior upper-caste students commit discrimination, instructors, faculty, and administrations, resulting in mental and physical harassment of students, which eventually deprives them of education. The pandemic has destroyed the whole globe, but it also has turned the coin for Dalit students as the mode of education goes online, which has lessened the humiliation and discrimination faced by the students.


Courts on Online Studies

In-State of T. N v. K. Shyam Sunder[2], the Hon'ble Supreme Court declared that a child's right to education should not be limited to free and compulsory education but should also include access to high-quality education without regard to economic, social, or cultural factors.


A bench comprising Justices A.M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said educational institutions should be attentive to the hardships people are experiencing as a result of the epidemic and make efforts to help students and their parents during this challenging period. It stated that demanding money for services not supplied to pupils amounted to profiteering, which institutions must avoid. The Supreme Court ordered governments to provide child-care institutions with the appropriate infrastructure, stationery, books, and other resources for online lessons. During the Covid-19, a court led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao further directed all states to give '2,000 per month to children returned to their guardians. The court also urged state governments to investigate whether children had access to education during the lockdown and got sufficient financial assistance to complete their studies.


Way Forward

Although a number of significant efforts have been made to reduce educational discrimination, attention must also be given to the fact that it has not yet completely disappeared.


Children have grown to be a significant component of the general population, and prejudice in schools is increasingly affecting them. Every youngster has the ability to grow into a leader. A few measures that can be adapted to provide education for all can be as follows:

  • Sensitize children, parents, teachers, education authorities, and government officials that zero prejudice shall be tolerated in school education.

  • Spread public awareness about equal rights of children in education.

  • Monitor prejudice and violence in schools

  • Monitor Right to Information and provide adequate evidence


Conclusion

Discrimination in the area of education leads to individual misfortunes, which, in turn, has an impact on the rate at which a community or a nation progresses. To address educational equity, substantial changes in legislative provisions, steps toward teacher sensitization and training, actions to improve government implementation, monitoring, and enforcement capacities (particularly at the middle levels of the education machinery), and increased funding for education are just a few of the steps that must be taken. There is a widespread need to change public opinion to persuade individuals, parents, and officials that justice is possible and educational diversity is unacceptable.


While India is physically and culturally diverse, it also has significant economic diversity. As it can be witnessed around all of us that at present, only a small percentage of Indians have access to online education. Power outages, poor or inaccessible internet access and the inability to afford the necessary gadgets are all significant problems. It is high time to focus on the solutions rather than blaming the situation. Unless all educators and children are vaccinated, the risk of Covid-19 at educational institutes will prevail. Therefore, online education can protect people from becoming infected with the virus until everyone is vaccinated.


References

[1]Vol 1, D. D. BASU, INDIA: COMMENTARY ON THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA, 3rd Edition, (S. C. Sarkar & Sons 1955). [2] CIVIL APPEAL NOS.6015-6027/2011


 

*/** 1st Year, B.A. LL.B. students at Faculty of Law, University of Lucknow


 

(Disclaimer- The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Child Rights Centre.)

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knowingly unknown
knowingly unknown
Nov 01, 2021

Amazingly articulated 💜

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