Dalits, Muslims and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

By Pardeep Singh Attri

Interesting news which caught my eye today (January 16th, 2010) “Human Resource Department’s internal appraisals of ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ showing most of its physical target’s for 2009-10 are set to be fully achieved.” – With 85% schools opened of set target, 78% teachers, 92% schools with drinking water, providing free textbooks to 92% school students.

Are all the governments working for all these? Are all the children getting chance for betterment or this scheme also have just proved like just another government scheme, those never reaches to common people and common people read and listen about them only on T.V channel advertisements?

There are about 45% Dalits who don’t know how to read or write and the literacy rate for Dalit women is just 37.8%.

According to a survey by the Friends for Education, almost 52 % Muslims live below the poverty line (compared to 25 % of all Indians). Of every 100 Muslim girls admitted in schools at the primary level, only four pass out at high school while only 1 makes it to a college. The literacy level is a shocking 28% and graduates and postgraduates form less than 1 % of the total.

In the field of medicine, the percentage is just 2.4 while in the judiciary; it doesn’t go beyond 3.1 %. The community occupies the lowest rung in the development index. Its literacy rate is poor and it has a low presence in private and public sector jobs. ( reference- “Keeping the Muslim Down” by Firoz Bakhtt Ahmed, May 19 2008, HT)

A Citizen’s Review Report (7th Jan, 2008) on “India’s Progress on the MDGs” showed that 55% of Muslims have never attended school compared to national average of 41% (rural); In Bihar 86% of enrolled children drop-out by Standard VI. 99% Dalit children study in Public schools & inadequate facilities and infrastructure as major problem for access to health & education.

There is another report by Comptroller & Audit General (CAG) showing that SC, ST’s literacy rate is very much poor in Tamil Nadu. For ST males’ literacy rate is 32.18% & for female it stands at 31.77%. Also the pass percentage of SC, ST students in 10 & 12standard examinations has dropped since 2002-03 and is much lower than the overall pass percentage during 2002-06 and this needs immediate attention in the educational development of the SC, STs.

This all is result of poor monitoring & poor implementation of the welfare schemes launched for SC, STs; humiliating Dalits in schools/colleges & delaying the scholarships for SC, STs students.

The total budget for ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ stands at Rs.131 billion and the scheme’s operation has come under severe flak from India’s official auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). Out of Rs 8004.71-crore allotted for the development work of “Elementary Education” and ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, only Rs 2,324.99 crore was spent through record. For rest of the money spent on the development work there no records available & Human Resource Department is clueless about rest of the money!

It means rest of the money was simply siphoned off. In this Gujarat and Rajasthan governments come first in misusing the funds!

From the funds of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan party functions were organized & money was simply wasted on “Puja” in temples, thinking this will help in improving literacy rate!

Almost all the times, receiving green signal from ‘World Bank’ about the next installment for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Indian political leaders have started celebrating and why they shouldn’t? But if this Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan couldn’t fulfill the targets of giving education to all, this entire scheme has definitely made many policy makers millionaire! “Education for All Children” movement has proved “Money for All Politicians” nothing else.

A survey conducted by “Outlook” (April 7, 2008) showed that 71% villagers said there is high corruption in all the Government schemes & don’t reach at them. India’s external debt is already at 201.4 billion USD, but where the development is seen, in the houses of ministers? Isn’t it?

There is another worrisome part an emerging trend whereby children belonging to different social backgrounds are attending different kinds of schools. In Andhra Pradesh, there is a divide between the government primary school (GPS) located in the Dalit basti and the GPS in the forward caste hamlet — only SC students attend the former school, while the latter has very few SC students. The youth in the SC colony in the village categorically stated that even if children from the SC colony try to seek admission in the other GPS, they are discouraged and told to attend the school in their own colony.

A similar divide was observed in Tamil Nadu between the GPS and the schools run by the Adi-Dravida Welfare Board. (“Beyond the numbers” study conducted by Vimala Ramachandran)

Fifth ‘All India Educational Survey’ (AIES) showed that approximately 94% of the national population had access to a primary school within 1 km of their habitation. But how many of these children complete primary educations? This should be our main concern, not merely constructing buildings with no teacher.

All state governments are washing their hands by giving different reasons like “Hard to reach”, “Most difficult to access group” for the children those are not attending schools right now and no government is ready to take the responsibility that their welfare schemes are nothing but eye-wash/fraud on the name of welfare! There is money, money & money everywhere but before spending governments must make the schemes efficient so as social, economical, educational status can be raised.

One survey showed that about 40% of the money borrowed from ‘World Bank’ directly or indirectly goes back to them as a fee of consultancy, i.e. Indian Governments/policy makers are not able to chalk out the proper plans. Almost all the Government schemes have proved fake paper tigers only! There is an urgent need to support social reformation of SC/STs, Muslims and other minority communities to promote literacy.

Lessons to be learnt:

* More than 40% students (50-60% in case of Dalits) are still out of schools, despite HRD’s claims of getting successful in enrolling more than 96% students in schools.
* Not all the schools have toilets, which affects chances of many girls’ education.
* Literacy rate has not improved a bit! Sub-Saharan Africa countries where people don’t even have enough food their literacy rate is higher (61.2%) than India (61%) - Source: 2000-2004 data from the “Education for All Global Monitoring Report”, UNESCO (2006)
* Over 71% schools have less than 3 teachers.
* Only 38% class V students in rural areas can divide simple numbers. In Tamil Nadu, only 19% children of class V can read sentence while in Uttar Pradesh it is 14%, according to annual audit by education NGO Pratham (16th January, 2010).
* There has been a huge misuse of funds, which needs to be controlled. Monitoring and supervision of ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ program failed totally.


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