Education for Tribals
- The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Tribal Affairs have been implementing various schemes in the Scheduled Tribe dominated areas of the country with a specific target of uplifting the education amongst tribal communities.
- Various research studies have shown that there is a correlation between literacy and poverty. According to the 2011 Census, the literacy rate of the Scheduled Tribes of India is only 58.96 percent against the national literacy rate of 72.99 percent.
- The status of tribal students in schooling has improved over the years, particularly at primary and upper primary level. However, it starts decreasing at secondary and senior secondary level.
- Another challenging factor which has shown consistent improvement in the last few years is the dropout rate of students. The data as per Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) on dropout rates at primary, upper primary and secondary level from 2016-17 to 2020-21 indicates a decreasing trend and hence an improvement in the status of school-going tribal children at all levels.
- All-India annual average drop-out rates fell during 2016-17 to 2020-21 by 5.6 percent for all children in primary level (classes 1-5) and by 6 percent for tribal children.
Various Programmes/Schemes on Education
- The RTE Act: The 86th amendment to the Constitution of India was passed in 2002 wherein article 21A was inserted to ensure that every child has a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain norms and standards. This subsequently resulted in the formulation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 which gave a legal mandate to provide free and compulsory elementary education to every child in the age group of 6-14 years.
- Samagra Shiksha Scheme: Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education is implementing the Samagra Shiksha scheme from 2018-19. Bridging gender and social category gaps at all levels of school education is one of the major objectives of the scheme. The Scheme reaches out to girls, and children belonging to SC/ST, Minority communities and Transgenders.
- Under Samagra Shiksha, there is a provision of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs). KGBVs are residential schools from class VI to XII for girls belonging to disadvantaged groups such as SC, ST, OBC, Minority and Below Poverty Line (BPL).
Schemes with Specific Target of Uplifting the Education amongst Tribal Communities
- Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS): In Union Budget of 2018-19, Government of India announced that to provide quality education to the tribal children in their own environment, EMRS schools will be established in every block having more than 50 percent ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons (as per census 2011).
- National Fellowship and Scholarship for Higher Education of ST Students: The scheme provides financial assistance for pursuing MPhil and PhD in Universities and for pursuing graduate and post graduate courses in top Institutes like IIT/AIIMS etc.
- National Overseas Scholarship (NOS) to the ST Students for Studies Abroad: Under the Scheme, financial assistance is provided to 20 ST students every year for pursuing higher studies abroad.
- Pre-Matric Scholarship: It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which financial assistance is provided to ST students studying in classes IX and X.
- Post-Matric Scholarship: Under this initiative, financial assistance is provided to ST students studying beyond class X.
Major Challenges for Tribal Education
- In the case of Scheduled Tribes, the remoteness of habitations, lack of travelling facilities, insufficient infrastructure facilities, illiteracy of parents, and segregated population are the primary constraints for the educational attainment of these children.
- Other challenges include:
- Medium of Instruction: It is a well established fact that primary education in the mother tongue has huge benefits. The struggle between mother tongue and dominant language in the classroom leaves the aspiring learners from the Scheduled Tribes behind in learning.
- Lack of Teachers and Appropriate Pedagogy: Due to disproportionate teacher’s deployment, schools in far flung areas and difficult terrain face shortage of teachers. Further, teachers should adopt play based and activity based pedagogy to make learning interesting so that children do not find education irrelevant. Real life application of knowledge and respect for tribal knowledge may make a huge difference in educational outcomes of the students.
- The National Education Policy 2020 reaffirms that bridging the social category gaps in access, participation, and learning outcomes in both school and higher education will continue to be one of the major goals of all education sector development programmes.
- The NEP 2020 proposed the policy strategy to identify Special Education Zones (SEZs). The SEZs will be the identified regions where significantly large populations from educationally and socio-economically disadvantaged groups reside.
- The next step could be to preserve and assimilate tribal knowledge in the curriculum framework to ensure that quality education not only is accessible to all diverse groups but also is relevant and connected with their traditions, aspirations and needs.
- Further, multilingual education is required to be promoted in a big way and instruction in mother tongue as envisaged in Article 350A of the constitution which provides for facilities for instruction in mother tongue at the primary stage.
- As rightly envisaged in NEP 2020, universal access to quality education to all children is the key to India’s continued ascent, and leadership at the global stage in terms of economic growth, social justice and equality, scientific advancement, national integration, and cultural preservation.
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