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Dalit students face discrimination when it comes to mid-day meals

, TNN | Jun 25, 2012, 03.06PM IST

PUNE: Children from the schedule caste (SC) are discriminated against in the implementation of government sponsored mid-day meal scheme and segregation is practiced in seating arrangements and in eating mid-day meals, said a report released recently by the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR).

” SC children are frequently treated in a humiliating and degrading manner in schools and in public places, at times accompanied by severe corporal punishment. Even in government sponsored schemes like the mid-day meal scheme, under which every child in every government and government-assisted primary school should be provided with a prepared mid-day meal each day of school for a minimum of 200 days, segregation is practiced in seating arrangements and in eating mid-day meals” states the report.

Activist Vilas Wagh says that discrimination was one of the reasons that increases dropout rate of SC, ST students. He agrees with the report observation that dropout rate of SC children is 50% before class eight. The difference in dropout rates between SC youth and all Indian youth has actually grown from 4.39% in 1989 to 16.21% in 2008. Moreover, the literacy levels are lowest among SC girls at 24.4%, compared to the national average of 42.8% for the general female population. In the Mushahar SC community, barely 9% of women are literate.

” Caste bias manifests itself also in higher educational institutions, where there have been reports of teachers ignoring SC students and unjustly failing them in exams; social exclusion and physical abuse; and the unwillingness of university administrations to assist SC students and support them. Between 2008-11, the number of SC students in higher educational institutions that committed suicide was 18 across India. This number only represents official statistics without counting all the SC students whose families did not protest against the incessant discrimination that eventually led to their suicide” states the report.

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