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Education of Scheduled Castes in India

Scheduled castes in India suffer from cultural and social discrimination. The education was forbidden for them from the ancient time till British rule in India. Education being centered on cultural privileges was not extended to the lower strata of the society. Education was a distant dream for them. However local initiatives were undertaken by different rulers to extend educational benefits to such communities. In Malabar and Konkan regions the respective rulers permitted the lower castes to go for education. However they were not permitted to sit in the same room along with the higher caste students. The school verandah was the usual classroom for the Dalit children. During the British period the purpose of the education was not social upliftment rather it was to generate manpower to fit into British administration for which Dalit education got a backseat shift.

When India got independence, special schools were set up for education of Dalits. However despite the constitutional and legislative attempt of the government Dalit education in India is yet to get a momentum and the testimony to that is lower degree of literacy present in them, highest contribution to drop out and minimal representation in governmental occupational structure. Malvika Karlekar in 'Education and Inequality in India' writes that mass poverty, ignorance, lack of awareness about government sponsored programmes, restrictive scope for spatial mobility and cultural restrictions are the most significant factors standing in the way of education for SCs. Jagjivan Ram in 'The Harijan Elite' writes that education for SCs is not getting a momentum. Harijan elites availing all constitutional benefits develop a competitive relationship with non harijan elite to consolidate their position than undertaking appropriate steps to popularize education among the SCs.Marc Gallenter in 'Competing Inequalities' writes that law has given permission to the Dalit children to get equality of opportunity in school.

However the teachers in school still believes in traditional culture. Implicitly their behavior remarks never offer a conducive signal for the Dalit children to stay at school for which there is a high degree of dropout. Suryanarayana writes that in India there is a quantitative increase in the number of schools but qualitative decline in the standard of teaching, teacher-student ratio and so on. Despite the introduction of free books, midday meals and schemes in case of elementary education in India it is generally observed that these benefits are either high jacked on the way or help the students belonging to the higher caste and class seen during lunch or on the date of distribution of books. The lower castes consider that investment in education will not guarantee any return therefore they prefer their children should start earning at a lower age. This gives rise to the acceleration of child labor, high degree of drop out rate and lower caste least access to education. It is proved that education has not been greatly motivating force to promote equality and mobility among the disadvantaged sections of society in general and SCs in particular.