By Athira G R
Kozhikode, Oct 10: Kerala has the highest literacy rate among the states of India, but like the rest of India it has not been able to break caste barrier. A school in the northern district of Kozhikode is a caste point.
The Government Welfare Lower Primary School in Perambra village has become a Dalits-only school, because other communities in the village have stopped sending their children there. Nothing seems to have changed for the Government Welfare L P School. Even after starting the LKG section and providing best amenities, including pedagogy park and smart classrooms, the school remains ‘untouchable' for the civil society.
Thirty scheduled caste Sambava (Paraya) live in the Chermala colony situated near the school, but there are upper caste Nair and Nambiar and Thiyya (OBC) families residing near the school. Most of the residents of the colony are daily wage workers who earn around Rs 500 a day. No non-Dalit student has studied in the school during the last 15 years. A teacher of the government welfare school said, “The upper caste parents told us that they did not want their kid to sit with Parayas (Sambavas).
Headmaster Raghudas Tettiyil said, “The school has a very good infrastructure. Despite that, people do not wish to send their children here." He also said that there were only 15 students in the school, all of who belong to the SC community. "No upper caste child had studied here in the last 15 years even though we tried out best to increase the strength,” he said.
"The discrimination seen in the school is merely an extension of the ostracisation practised in other aspects of village social life," said the school teacher. "The Paraya colony itself is being ostracised. None of the other caste neighbours invite them for weddings or other functions. These people are not included in any of the social activities in the locality," a teacher says.
Children from the colony are quoted saying they are insulted because of their caste. Kerala had a very unpleasant past where we frantic caste and religion baseddiscrimination and untouchability were practiced. But even now these problems continue. Ninety-nine percent of Sambavas said they were insulted by others who called them by their caste name, Paraya. Despite whatever changes happen, castes remains. "Upper caste members insult calling by caste name, they discriminate on the basis of one's skin colour and accent of the language," said a resident of Chermala colony.
Students from the Chermala Sambava colony are untidy. They have a lot of diseases since they live in an unhygienic environment. This is also the reason why parents are hesitant about sending their children there. Recognising the manner in which poverty causes Paraya children to give up their studies, headmaster of Government Welfare LP School, Perambra Raghudas Thettiyil and others worked hard over the last ten years to ensure that the children stayed put in the course.
The concept of social justice remains a myth to oppressed castes and groups. In the absence of equal national integration, the country can never be healthy. Article 46 of the constitution of India provides special care to the educational and economic interest of weaker sections. But these constitutional provisions also have not been able to bridge the gap between the upper castes and scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and the general population.