A Chapter by JENY

An essay dedicated to my students belonged to SCHEDULED CASTE and SCHEDULED TRIBE category


MALNOURISHED MINDS                               In my school days, particularly in primary and secondary school days, I hated to sit near students that belonged to scheduled caste or scheduled tri be.. Because these students were dark, came to school in not so clean uniform. I believed that these students had a foul smell as they didn’t brush their teeth properly and had foul breath. Most of them were dunderheads. My teachers always asked them only easy questions and never chided  them too much as they considered them more or less hopeless cases in the field of academics. Teachers used to count these students into the hit list of weak students when the final exam preparations begin.

                      Today as a teacher by profession, when I look at the faces of students who belonged to scheduled caste or tribes in my class, I wonder what their classmates think of them. I am not sure. But one thing is sure for me. Teachers have not made any deliberate attempt to change their own traditional mindset regarding these students despite government’s hard attempts to raise the standard of living of this section of society.

                        You select SC students of a class at any level, primary or secondary; you can see that majority of them are below average, hopeless cases. There is a deep rooted norm in the minds of society especially its teachers that they are below average and there is no scope for development and growth for them. I am not blabbering. My readers would have read the recent news from a renowned university (JNU). A professor belonged to the department of life science in JNU proclaimed that “these castes are genetically malnourished and so very little can be achieved in raising them up”. Controversies related to this are going on. (if you are interested, read the article in outlook magazine of  April 26 under the rubric standard deviation).

                  If any teacher sees a student of SC category excelling in academics, she cant help wondering at it. She might have exclaimed about the ‘irony’ 3 or 4 times in the academic year. “Wow that Sc student scored this much marks…..!!!!!”.  This reveals teacher’s frame of mind regarding this section of society. But, if we closely analyze the general backwardness of these students we can see that causes are largely environmental, never is it genetic. It is their living conditions that prevent them from drawing motivation, to excel academically, like other students. Most of the drop outs of our schools belong to SC/ST category. Reason is poverty. They want to help their parents in work to mend family. It is a reason, very genuine that we teachers put forward for drop out.

                         But in my opinion, a student, properly motivated to study, whose teachers share his struggle for existence, whose teachers succeed in building up his level of confidence regarding academic achievements, who is aware of myriad easily accessible opportunities in the form of reservations awaiting him, will never leave school even if he is in dire poverty.

                          Reforms in education ask teachers to adopt child centered individualized instructions in the class room. If each teacher is bent upon implementing it she can see that this underprivileged section needs special caring attention. Problems of these students are down to earth problems as they belong to lower sections of society. Teachers should probe into the personal life of these students and detect impediments that obstruct their growth and development. It may be primarily financial, but can be emotional, lack of motivation, sense of inferiority etc too. It is natural that needs of this students are different from the majority consisting of students from privileged or middle class section of society. So the ways we adopt to solve them should also be different. Mid day meal, stipend and other reservations government arranged for them will be fruitful in raising their standard only if their quality as a learned individual is improved. Only qualitative improvement of these students can improve their receptivity for the benefits and reservations govtment has arranged for them and this will never act vice versa. In other words never expect that ample reservations and concessions can improve their quality. It-reservations- in other ways, in a disguised manner, will stifle their intrinsic need for qualitative improvement. And, a large part of their quality upliftment as citizens of India, is in the hands of their teachers.    

                           In my staff room I have heard teachers saying each other in the beginning of academic year itself that these students enroll into the course only to receive stipend. But none of them enquire about the reason for absence of these students till it exceeds 10 or 15 days.

Rather than making attempts to save these students from being drop outs teachers wish sincerely that they quit the course before the board exam comes in order to guard the aggregate school pass percentage from falling.

                                   I say that these students would not have got admission to any of the aided schools in India if there weren’t seats reserved for them. They would have been suppressed to the lower most levels of ladder, generation after generations. But the old mind set of teachers is one of the factors that prevent actual benefit of these reservations to reach them in the indented sense. Equality is a quality of a society which can be brought about by a collective approach. And attitude of a teacher in this line is very crucial. Because, according to their professional norms, each teacher is considered as a nation builder, as a molder of good citizens.

                        Sensitizing teachers of their role in bringing out these marginalized sections of the society into the mainstream is the need of the hour. Each kind of backwardness has a block that prevents forward movement. And, in any form of backwardness this block is largely internal. It is the internal block that often manifests as external block in any field of development. External block is something that follows a previously matured internal block. It is rather easy to blame and point out external blocks. But it takes extra skill and dedication to recognize internal blocks.

                        Reservations and quotas for weaker sessions can remove external block for development only if internal block is removed or cured completely. The only place it will be cured effectively is school. And persons who can cure this effectively are teachers. Because this internal block is nothing but lack of motivation to grow, ignorance about possibilities and opportunities to grow, ignorance about one’s own potential to grow. Only a teacher can wipe out this monster of ignorance.

     Addendum: there was news in Indian Express that only 40 percentage students belonged to SC/ST category passed in the SSLC exam 2010 march. Where is Baby? Where is Sibal?




© 2010 JENY

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Added on April 25, 2010
Last Updated on April 25, 2010



Kerala, Thrissur, India

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