Whose Education is it Anyway?
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
The idea of education in India comprises of the K12 (Class I to XII) framework as over most of the world. It is available through public and private institutions around the country. The public institutions tend to cover most of the populace due to the challenges of – access, availability and affordability – for majority of the population. Right to Education acts a guide to shape the responsibility of the government to educate children aged 6-14 years. Under the current set of conditions certain sections of the population are unable to be a part of the education system. These sections can be looked at on the scale of marginalisation in education in particular with a focus on primary and middle education.
Education (K12) is at the root of engagement with the social, economic ecosystem. It forms the basis for children to understand as things happen, move and take shape around day to day living. The abilities to be acquired in order to engage are – 1.To add, subtract, multiply and divide (simple mathematics), 2. To read texts in Local language, Hindi/Urdu (depending on region), English etc, 3. To comprehend and communicate with people i.e. speak and listen in other languages. For these abilities the children are exposed to education which prepares them the pursue education later and engage. It also acts as an enabler for the child to develop an agency to determine his choices pertaining to – physical, economic and social being.
What is the Problem?
The current institutional spaces have been unable to completely comprehend the challenges that a vast number of young children face in the country. These children are either inducted into the education system without adequate work on the challenges or left out of the education locally available. We in particular intend to discuss the challenges of the communities inhabiting forest and its peripheries. The children from the community are unable to “access” education due to limitations of infrastructure and state support. The “availability” of education is within the confines of the rural local self governance systems topography. The “affordability (economic viability)” of education is subject to the individual household level. The ideas of context, customs, heritage, identity and way of life of the community are nowhere to be seen in this discussion on education. No ownership or leadership as there is near to total fall out among the state and community on education for children. Also the Forest Department as a keen role to play over decades.
What to do?
As we live with the community in the region and have conversations on education we intend to determine a way out. The Van Gujjars (forest dwellers) and Taungya (Scheduled Caste) communities have information, awareness and are self sufficient though education is seemingly missing. Over the past 6-8 months we have tried to be a part of the community and initiate discussion on education. We have met people, representatives, education officials. Education though missing still has a foothold in the conscience of the people.
Some conversations from the people:
“शिक्षा बहुत ज़रूरी है, सबको पढ़ना चाहिए”, “पढ़ेंगे तभी कुछ हिसाब कर पाएँगे सारे”, “हम पढ़ना चाहते है लेकिन कुछ इंतेजाम करना होगा”, “जंगल से बाहर तक जाने में बहुत सारी मुश्किलात है”
The people have the willingness to learn, which is motivating us to try to help them do it!
- By Prashant, the Director at Samanta Foundation.