Dec 20, 2016: India is an abode to a large number of tribes which still do not have any touch with the modern lifestyle. India has the largest tribal population in the world. Also known as Aadivaasi, these tribal are among the poorest population of the country who depend on hunting, fishing and farming for their survival. All these tribes have their own traditions, culture, language and lifestyle.
Jammu and Kashmir is home to a large number of tribal communities. These tribes are settled in every nook and corner of this beautiful hilly countryside. Most of these tribes are believed to be the descendants of the famous, legendary family of the Aryans.
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Jammu and Kashmir is currently inhabited by several tribes including the nomadic mountain-dwelling tribe- Gujjars, residing in the hills- dogras, etc. These tribes make up the authentic and ethnic culture of this primordial state and its culture.
In the amendments made by the Parliament in the year 1989 and 1991, twelve tribes from Jammu and Kashmir, under the article 342, were declared Scheduled Tribes. After declared as Scheduled tribes, the tribes were granted special rights by the Union Government, including 10 percent reservation in jobs and promotions in Jammu and Kashmir. The special rights also included 7 percent job reservations in Central Government run departments.
According to the census of the year 2011, the tribes constitute for about 11.9 percent of the total population of Jammu and Kashmir, which is around 0.14 percent of the country’s population. However, the main tribal group of J&K – Gujjars and Bakarwalas- argued that they were not enumerated correctly as around 6 lakhs nomadic population were under migration along with their livestock when the census held. The Gujjars and Bakarwalas together form 79.7 percent of the total tribal population of the state.
The government sees that education is crucial for helping the tribes cope with National integration. Education will help the tribes prosper, get success and security in life. The literacy among tribal people in India is at most 60 percent. Even though the government has spent a reasonable amount of money for the education of tribal youth, the results have been below expectations.
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According to Government reports, there is no scarcity of schools or any other facility or scholarships, but the tribal youth find these schemes unattractive.
There are various critical issues in the field of tribal education.
- Language: It is one of the most important constraints. Government schools use state language as a medium of education. Most of the students are comfortable in their local dialects.
- Location: The long distance between the school and the village creates a hindrance for the children to attend the school. Also, some tribes tend to migrate after a certain amount of time. So, that creates a problem in the education of the children.
- Economic Condition: Most of the tribal people are so poor that they cannot afford to send their children to school and lose the labour power.
- Teachers: Teacher absenteeism is one of the major causes of the degrading quality of tribal education. Teachers don’t take their jobs seriously.
- Lack of proper Monitoring: The coordination between the Tribal Welfare Department and the School Education Department is very poor and it affects the monitoring system.
Since 1951, the government has been allocating financial resources for the tribal development. The Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act made it mandatory for the states to make specific provisions for giving powers to tribes to make decisions for the development of their community.
The Janshala Program, collaborative effort of Government of India and five UN agencies including UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP and ILO, is a community-based primary education program that aims to make primary education effective and accessible.
The state government has started 175 one man ‘Mobile Primary Schools’ to provide education to the migratory population of Gujjars and Bakarwalas.
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Though the state government has taken many steps to educate the tribal population but most of these have proven insufficient, ill-conceived and inadequate. These plans lack proper implementation. The government needs to revamp these policies. Here are a few suggestions:
- Literacy campaign: Literacy campaigns must be organised to raise awareness regarding the importance of education.
- Counselling: Tribal parents must be properly guided so that they can change their attitude towards education.
- Local language: The study materials should be available in the local dialect. The cultural, ecological and psychological characteristics of tribal children must be taken into consideration by the teachers in the tribal areas.
- Schools: More residential schools must be built in every state and district.
- Monitoring: Functioning of schools must be regularly monitored by the higher level officials. The working hours, attendance registers and teaching methods of teachers must be recorded.
Education is the key to development. Though the tribes are developing in India, the pace of this development is very slow. If some big steps are not taken, the status of tribal education would be a story of distress and despair. There is an urgent need to seriously take into account the condition of tribes in our country and this will be possible by making changes in policy. Easy access should be provided to tribal children in order to bring them to the mainstream of economic development.
– prepared by Diksha Arya of NewsGram. Twitter: @diksha_arya53