“Teachers discriminate against children from Dalit or lower caste communities still, and they end up dropping out of schools.”
The quote above by Beauty Kumar, a young Dalit student activist from Bihar, really puts things in perspective. Even 74 years after Independence, we seem unable to rid ourselves of discrimination of all kinds.
Caste, religion, language, and region still continue to divide us and yet, our mainstream news attempts to lull us into a stupor with its non-stop coverage of what it likes to call ‘news’. The already dismal school enrollment rate is expected to take a bigger hit because of the pandemic and the closure of schools. Colleges and universities, (especially) government-funded institutions, have had their autonomy taken away, faced fee hikes, violence on campus, and the list doesn’t end here. The unemployment rate has seen a huge spike that doesn’t seem to be going down anytime soon.
Just think, in the last year alone, how many times have you seen traditional media talk about issues that actually matter to you? It almost makes us forget the massive inequalities around us — almost. But, can we afford that?
"When children from slums and streets join school also, children from 'good' backgrounds discriminate against them"
— Youth Ki Awaaz (@YouthKiAwaaz) August 12, 2020
In the run-up to Independence Day, people have spoken up on the types of discrimination they have faced while going through our education system, and it’s high time we say ‘enough is enough!’, and raise our collective voice against identity-based discrimination India’s students face.
Be it gender, caste, religion, or geography, identity-based discrimination rids millions of students off of ideal educational experience. How can we keep stigma and discrimination out of our classrooms and free our education system of discrimination? When young girls are still not allowed to study, when education is handed over to profit-making entities, when gate-keepers choose what kind of student can study, how can we sit back and let this happen?
If the mainstream media won’t, we will ourselves talk about issues that matter to us most. Will you join us as we try to nudge these questions to get attention to what matters?