Provide better facilities for quality education, Tribal students urge Indian Government

The tribal students from across India, while taking part in a convention organised by the Adivasi Adhikar Manch and the Centre for Adivasi Research and Development in New Delhi recently to highlight their issues, had urged the Union Government to ensure ‘quality education’ and proper facilities, quoting PTI, a TOI report said. The facilities they were calling included schools and hostels for those belonging to scheduled tribes and further noted that reservation in government institutions and jobs alone are not the solution to their problems. The Adivasi students also urged the Central Policies by ground realities for the welfare of tribal children, noted the report.

Sunil Tirki from Jharkhand was quoted as saying, “We need more hostels and good facilities. The Union Government talks about reservation (in jobs), but what will we do if we do not get a proper education?”

The tribal students who had come from hinterlands of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tripura and other states also complained about poor hostel facilities at residential government schools. The students further said that hostels do not have proper drinking water and toilet facilities. What is more, in some places, there are no ceiling fans. So, the students sleep in the open during summers.

“Sometimes, we have to fetch water from nearby wells. Quite often students fall sick and return home, as there are no proper medical facilities available for us”, Lath Soren, a tribal student from Chattisgarh was quoted as saying by the report. The organisers claimed that because of a flawed policy framework of the government, which is detached from the ground reality, Adivasi children could not sustain their education, she said.

Brinda Karat, CPM Leader and Member of the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch said, “The Union Government is cutting down on the number of schools based on the number of students attending the classes. Now, in tribal areas, this is proving to be disastrous. Due to the geographical locations of these areas, one cannot hope that Adivasi children will sustain their education sans a decentralised approach. That is why compared to other children; the dropout rate among tribal students is higher. If the Government wants to bridge the gap, then it needs a different policy framework.”

Villages sans Schools

The parents of the students who took part in the convention said that there were many villages which did not have schools.  Phula Bai, a 25-year old woman, belonging to the Bhil tribe of Rajasthan said that she wanted her two children to study, but there were no schools. If they’re going to go to school, they need to travel miles through forests. It is rather unsafe. Why the Government can’t build schools near our villages, asks Phula Bai.

Citing a recent survey conducted by the Adivasi Adhikar Manch and the Centre for Adivasi Research and Development, some tribal areas have logged an increase in the dropout rate among girl students, as not many parents feel safe to send their daughters to far-off schools.

Varsha Sihem, a Class VIII tribal student from Madhya Pradesh, told TOI, “My school is very far from my village. It takes more than two hours to reach there. I can continue with my studies because my brother accompanies me. But many in my class have stopped coming to school as they were scared to travel alone, besides the fact that they do not have the necessary money to pay for the transport. There is no hostel for girls.”

At the convention, the tribal students also urged the Government to stop its policy of shutting down and merging schools based on the number of students attending them, added the report.

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