National Public Hearing on Zero Discrimination in School Education, 19th May , Constitution CLub

NATIONAL PUBLIC HEARING ON IDENTITY BASED DISCRIMINATION/VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN IN SCHOOL EDUCATION

The Public hearing on identity based discrimination/violence against children in school education is being jointly organized by Centre for Social Equity & Inclusion (CSEI), Children Movement for Climate Justice (CMCJ), Human Rights Watch (HRW), National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ), on 19th May 2015 from 10.0 am to 5.30 pm at Constitution Club of India, Rafi Marg, New Delhi – 110 001 as a part of “Campaign on Zero Discrimination in Education Institutions” 

CONCEPT NOTE

Discrimination and violence against Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim children in the educational system is widespread. Social exclusion, alienation, physical abuse, mental harassment, sexual abuse and educational neglect are some of its forms. Rather than inculcating human rights and Constitutional values, schools by and large perpetrate social norms and values that are often exclusionary, discriminatory and hierarchical. Victim children in conversations allude to discrimination and violence as reasons for dropping out of school, fear of school, not participating, not coping up in learning, feeling isolated, feeling neglected. The RTE Act, 2009 mandates non-discrimination in education and the issue has gained some recognition in recent years. However, there continues many grey areas and this National Public Hearing is an effort to highlight the issues and seek solutions.   

Many of the International Bodies and mechanisms recognise the right to free, fair and inclusive education and recognises states parties to eliminate discrimination in education that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing equality of treatment in education and in particular (a) depriving any person/s of access to education; (b) limiting any person/s to education of an inferior standard; (c) maintaining separate educational systems or institutions for persons (subject to Article 2); or (d) inflicting on any person/s conditions which are incompatible with human dignity. Primary education shall be free and compulsory for all and it is obligatory on the government to provision non-discriminatory educational environment in the country.

Apart from International Mechanisms there are many recommendations being given to the State to take effective measures to reduce dropout and increase enrolment rates among Dalit children and adolescents at all levels of schooling, combat classroom segregation and discrimination against Dalit pupils, and ensure non-discriminatory access to the midday meal scheme, adequate equipment, staffing and quality of teaching in public schools, as well as physical access by Dalit pupils to schools in dominant caste neighbourhoods and  strengthen the enforcement of existing legal prohibitions of discrimination and, in addition, consider enacting comprehensive legislation guaranteeing the right to equal treatment and protection against discrimination… in education. To make efforts to achieve universal free and compulsory primary education by, inter alia, taking further initiatives to target disadvantaged and marginalized groups in particular.

Indian state too recognises some of the rights and recognises free and compulsory education to all children aged 6-14 years in such manner as the state may, by law, determine under Article 21A Indian Constitution and for the state to make special provisions for the advancement of scheduled castes (such as reservations) under Article 15(4) Indian Constitution. The Constitution of India categorically abolished “untouchability” and its practice in any form declaring it ‘offence punishable under law’. It is also categorical in prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. In the context of education, Article 30 (2) prohibits the state from discriminating in granting aid to educational institutions on the ground of its management under a minority. Art 29 (2) prohibits discrimination in admission into any educational institutions maintained by the state or receiving aid from the state funds. This has been taken forward in the RTE Act to include 25% of seats under non-minority private unaided schools too and prohibition of discrimination of children admitted under this provision. Article 46 of Indian Constitution recognises the state should promote with special care the educational interests of scheduled castes. under Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 every child aged 6-14 years has the right to free and compulsory elementary education with adequate infrastructure facilities free textbooks, writing materials and uniforms; the government should ensure that children from disadvantaged social groups are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing elementary education; The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 specifies a number of criminal offences such as abuse in caste name, outraging the modesty of a women, rape, murder  etc. sec. 7(1)(b) PCR Act recognizes anyone who molests, injures, annoys, obstructs or causes or attempts to cause obstruction to any person on the ground of ‘untouchability’ commits an offence. Sec 4 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 recognizes penetrative Sexual assault is a punishable offence for either description for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

NATIONAL PUBLIC HEARING (NPH)

CHILDREN WHO ARE AFFECTED BY DISCRIMINATION

The SSA-RTE Framework for Implementation, 2011 identified children from diverse social groups and under difficult circumstances as victims and possible victims of discrimination in our education system. Most often it is children from SC, ST, Nomadic Tribes, Muslim communities who are further discriminated in their particular context of migration, child labour, conflict etc making them double-treble victims of discrimination. Girl children across the board are also discriminated in education and not given equal opportunities or attention and are often the first victims based on family or school situations. The following long list in the framework of the children who are discriminated is an indication of the seriousness and the urgent need to combat discrimination in our schooling.

i)Children from Scheduled Caste communities, ii) children from scheduled tribe communities, iii) children belonging to muslim communities, iv) children from nomadic and de-notified tribes, v) children from particularly vulnerable tribes, vi) children with disabilities, vii) children living in urban slums, ix) child labour, x) children belonging to families engaged in stigmatized occupations, xi) migrant children, xii) children who do not speak the language being taught in school, xiii) children in conflict with law, xiv) children affected by HIV-AIDS, xv) children affected by disasters, xvi) children in conflict areas, xvii) girl children.

COMMON FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AND VIOLENCE: 

Studies have identified various forms of discrimination and violence is being practiced in education. These may be categorized along three major dimensions: -i) discrimination to accessing education, ii) discrimination within education, iii) discrimination to development and life opportunities through education. The first two forms of discrimination are taken up for this public hearing, which includes physical violence.

In exploring access to education, discrimination includes the many conditions that prevent children from having equal opportunities to access different levels of education, as well as having access to unequal qualities of education. Lack of pre-primary education to prepare the child to schooling, lack of different levels of schools in the neighbourhood, physical and social barriers that prevent children from accessing schooling, no admission to children who are migrants or suffer from particular social or health reasons, lack of particular market oriented or desired courses of education, inability to access good quality education owing to cost, non-availability of seats etc. These discriminate a child from accessing schooling, from accessing desired type of schooling, from accessing equal quality of schooling.

In exploring discrimination within education, many forms have been studied and reported. It covers a wide range where children are seated at the back of the classroom, are not allowed to use the school facilities or equipments like other children, not paid adequate attention in their learning, humiliated or de-motivated from learning, assigned discriminatory non-acceptable tasks in schools, not allowed leadership positions, not given opportunities to participate in school activities, not provided early education in ones language, segregation in eating, drinking water or seating in classrooms in public schools, aside from discrimination and ill-treatment from non-Dalit teachers or students, segregated from other children while eating and food cooked by SC cooks is often refused by many children or their parents. There are also cases where Dalit students are served from a distance, and several students bring their own plates for fear of utensils being touched by Dalit classmates. Dalit girls have either stopped mid-way through their schooling, or have suffered mental tension due to instances of discrimination, verbal abuse and harassment, threats of assaults as well as actual assaults on them by dominant caste teachers and students. (See Annexure)

All the above situations are against the norms of human rights, social justice and equality of the disadvantaged children. They negatively impact their education, the stark reflection being in non-enrolment, dropping out and poor learning achievements. In the above context and background a National Public Hearing (NPH) is being held :

Purpose:

To promote non-discrimination and inclusion in our school education system.

Objectives:

  • To highlight the nature and forms of discrimination and violence in educational institution and bring it to public domain to be addressed;
  • To sensitize the enforcement machinery on the nature of discrimination and violence in education and the need to address them for promoting equitable quality education with social inclusion.
  • Identify existing measures and mechanisms within education and larger legislative framework and their gaps in implementation
  • To advocate with the State to enact a comprehensive ‘anti-discrimination in education’ legislation to create a non-discriminatory inclusive environment in education.

Cases at the National Public Hearing

Cases from SC, ST and Muslim children, parents, SMC members and teachers will be taken up in the Public Hearing.

Who can present cases:

1. Children – school age – 3 plus years till 18 years:

             a. School going – discrimination/violence  inside the school/class room etc

             b. Dropped out because of discrimination/violence

2. SC, ST, Muslim Parents

3. SC, ST, Muslim SMC members

4. SC, ST, Muslim teachers

Nature and Forms of Discrimination/violence

  1. Physical discrimination/violence
  2. Emotional discrimination/violence
  3. Sexual discrimination/violence
  4. Social discrimination/violence
  5. Educational Neglect

Spaces and Location of discrimination/violence

  1. Behaviour inside the class room
  2. In teaching and learning and academic support to students
  3. Using school facilities – water, toilets, computers, libraries, sports, arts
  4. Participation and leadership – festivals, functions, assembly 
  5. Task distribution in school/class room
  6. Tasks prohibited to do in school/class room
  7. Mid Day Meals
  8. SMC Meetings – participation in meetings/schools
  9. Parent Meetings – access, participation and comfort/discomfort in schools

Process of the National Public Hearing:

  • Identification of incidents of discrimination and violence experienced in schools, related to education by children, parents, teachers, SMC member from Dalit, Tribal, Muslim communities.
  • Preparation of testimonies along with documents in the form of case briefs by partner organizations.
  • Representation of the cases to the concerned commission – NCPCR, SC Commission, Tribal commission, Minority Commission, NHRC requesting them to send summons to the accused.
  • Collation and classification of the cases and preparation of the jury kits.
  • Identification of jury members such as Retd Judges, academicians, Police officers and male female children’s, who will form part of the Jury Panel followed by presentation of jury kits.
  • Public hearing on 19th May followed by interim recommendations
  • Press release
  • Public Hearing Report with recommendations submitted to NCPCR, MHRD, Commissions for follow up action. The partner Organizations will also take up the cases for follow up at the State level.   
  • Advocacy for anti-discrimination in education legislation.
  • Public campaign on Zero discrimination in education.

Date, venue

19th May 2015

Constitution Club, Rafi Marg

10.00 am to 5.30 pm

Scope:

The Public hearing is national in its scope highlighting cases from across the country. It covers multi-stakeholders who are discriminated and whose rights are violated.  30-35 cases will be documented in the jury kit. 15 of the cases of will be presented to the jury to cross examine victims and perpetrators/concerned authorities. The jury makes recommendations in the respective cases. The cases and the recommendations are compiled together as the public hearing reports. 

Venue and Date

Jointly Organized By

Centre for Social Equity & Inclusion (CSEI),

Children Movement for Climate Justice (CMCJ)

Human Rights Watch (HRW),

National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ)