Status of education of Gujarat’s denotified, nomadic tribes: At least 33% never enrolled, 25% drop outs

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The Gujarat chapter of the “Socio-Economic Status and Educational Attainment and Challenges of Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes” , a study  sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science Research India, studies Denotified and Nomadic Tribes, stigmatized as ‘Born Criminals’ during the British rule – Wagher, Koli, Chuvaliya Koli, Sandhi, Chhara, Dafer, Miyana, Turi, Vanjara and Salatghera. It focuses, among other things, on the pattern of enrollment of children, reasons for non-enrollment, dropout, family as well as community participation and help in pursuing education.

Excerpts from the chapter:

Among the total population covered under the survey (9143), child population (below 6 years) accounts for nearly 10 per cent and the remaining population can be classified as (a) currently studying (b) never enrolled for education and (c) dropped out from education or reported as completed education. Larger share of population reported as completed or dropped out of the education (38.7 per cent) followed by never enrolled and currently studying (respectively 31.1 per cent and 20.3 per cent) in the total population.

The incidence of never enrolled were more than half of the respondents among Dafer (53 per cent) and Salt Khera (54 per cent), while it was almost 45 per cent among Sandhi respondents. Currently studying was spread across tribes though the proportion was more than one-fourth among (Chhara (29 per cent), Chuvaliya Koli (28 per cent) and Koli (24.7 per cent). In case of dropouts / completed, the proportion was relatively higher among Koli (64 per cent), Turi (56 per cent) followed by Miyana (47 per cent) and Chhara (43 per cent).

Apart from those reporting as dropouts, there were others who identified themselves as those who had completed their education as indicated at a particular level. In some sense, this pattern reflects the general educational status of the community. Out of 1111 who have reported that they have completed education, majority has completed primary level education (51 per cent) followed by secondary (28.6 per cent), higher secondary (11 per cent), and graduation and above (9.3 per cent).

The number of members who report completed education is abysmally low among Chuvala koli (1), Salat Ghera (5), Dafer (7) and Sandhi (9). In case of Turi, the incidence of secondary education among members were higher (41 per cent) followed by Koli (27 per cent) and Vanjara (23 per cent).

Among those reported to have currently engaged in studying, 76 per cent were in primary level followed by 14 per cent at secondary and 6 per cent at higher secondary. Only a small proportion of 4 per cent were engaged in graduate and post-graduate studies. Across tribes, one can discern variations. Among Dafer, 100 per cent were in primary level while more than 80 per cent were also engaged in primary schooling among Miyana (89 per cent), Sandhi (86 per cent), Salat Khera (83 per cent) followed by three-fourth or more among Chuvaliya Koli (75 per cent), Wagher (77 per cent) and Vanjara (79 per cent).

Among Turi one could find higher proportion among secondary (21 per cent), higher secondary (12 per cent) and rest pursuing graduation and above (11.4 per cent). Among Chhara and Koli too one can find higher incidence of secondary level education among those respondents who are pursuing education unlike members of the other tribes who were surveyed.

Distance to institution of study is an important determinant of easy access to school and retention. More than 70 per cent indicate that the distance to institution is less than 1 km and up to 3 km (18 per cent). Those reporting institution of study more than 3 kilometers account for around 10 per cent (Table 4.31). This incidence of farther distance of more than 3 kms was reported by Chhara (23 per cent) and Turi (21.8 per cent); and this is reflected in the higher proportion among these communities who report use of scooter/bike and bus as mode of transport. Majority however report by foot as the mode of transport to reach institution of study with variations across the tribe.

The major reasons for non-enrollment revealed from the data indicate that the respondents were not aware about the importance of education (28 per cent) and thus did not feel a necessity to pursue education whereas, the necessity of working or earning also restricted the respondents from accessing education (24 per cent). Other reasons included lack of school in the vicinity (18 per cent), improper documentation in the form of birth certificates (17 per cent), illness, migration, rejection by schools and to look after younger siblings.

The data about the educational status of those who responded as drop outs reveal that around three-fourths (73.7 per cent) had dropped out at primary level of education followed by secondary (21 per cent), higher secondary (4 per cent) and rest graduation and above (less than 2 per cent).

The proportion of those who dropped out at primary level was relatively lower among Koli (58 per cent) and Turi (52 per cent) in comparison with Dafer (98 per cent), Miyana (84 per cent) Wagher, Sandhi, Vanjara (around 78 per cent each) and Chuvalia Koli (72 per cent). Around one fourths had dropped out at secondary level among Chuvalia Koli and Salat Khera, while among Koli the proportion stood at 34 per cent and Turi at 30 per cent.

Interaction of parents with community with regard to children’s education is an important indicator of the focus education receives in the families of the households. It was seen that in case of Gujarat, the participation and involvement of parents in decision making about education was abysmally low. More than 90 per cent indicated that they did not interact with any member of the community or family or neighbours regarding admission, selection of school/college/ subjects, financial and guidance in general about their children’s education.

With regard to frequency of visits to schools around 46 per cent of households reported that parents never visited school while a little less than one-fourth indicated that the parents visited twice in a year followed by 15 per cent who reported once a year. High incidence of no visit was seen among Dafer (88.5 per cent), Salat Ghera (68.7 per cent) and Sandhi (66.7 per cent) in comparison with other communities for example, Miyana (19.9 per cent) and Chhara and Chuvalia Koli (around 30 per cent each).

Majority of the visits were to meet the teachers (35 per cent) followed by to collect reports (16 per cent), celebrations and sports (9 per cent each) and as and when called to the school (6 per cent). Thus, it was mostly for interaction with teachers related to academic matters rather than extra-curricular activities. This was evident from the low levels of participation of children in various programmes organised at their schools or colleges.

The main reason behind lack of children’s participation in school programmes was lack of interest of the child and being engaged in domestic work, as well as lack of awareness about these activities. Moreover, majority of the parents from households (64 per cent) were not aware of the reason behind their children’s non-participation in activities.

Out of 1574 of households, more than one-third of the households (35 per cent) reported that children help them with domestic chores. The proportion varied across tribes. The incidence was lowest among Koli (10.9 per cent), Miyana (13.4 per cent) and Chuvalia Koli (21.9 per cent). It was observed from fieldwork as well as primary data that while both male and female child helped in house work, female children were more engaged in tailoring and male children in lending a hand during farming and were engaged in household domestic chores and cattle grazing.

Majority of the children were engaged for around four hours in work at home. Out of 1574 respondents, 30 per cent believe that their son should become a government employee. Around 16 per cent of respondents believe that their son should pursue a professional career and less than 10.0 per cent reported that it would depend on his/ her wish or luck and on education. More than one-third of respondents from households had not thought about their son’s future.

Fifty seven per cent of respondents wanted their sons to pursue graduation, post-graduation and professional degrees. Only a negligible proportion of less than one per cent were disillusioned with the education system and believed that there was no use in educating their sons.

In case of aspirations for daughters, around 41.0 per cent of respondents wanted their daughters to pursue higher educational courses while a significant proportion of the respondents (46 per cent) had not thought about it in detail. With respect to daughter’s employment, around 22 per cent of respondents believed that their daughter should become a government employee followed by about 10 per cent who indicated that their daughters should be professionals and less than 10.0 per cent reported that it would be as per her wish or luck and depend on education. About 48.5 per cent of respondents from households had not thought about their daughter’s future.

This proportion is high among Wagher and Dafer and relatively low among Chhara and Vanjara. Twenty per cent of households reported that if the boy is educated, he can change the economic and social condition of his family members. About 19.3 per cent of respondents reported that if girl is educated and employed, she can change economic condition of the family and also become a good housewife. Nearly 16.9 per cent stated that if she is educated, it will enable self-development and the development of society. Less than 5.0 per cent of respondents reported that if their girl is educated, she would get a good life, increase critical thinking and could live independently.

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