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Schools, Toilets Or Temples?

By Pardeep

19 July, 2008

“Many people would rather die than think, infact most do.” - Bertrand Russell

Few days back The Endowment Department of Andhra Pradesh (Warangal) decided they will establish “Institute of Temple Management”, which would offer courses & will train people for managing temple activities effectively. Facilities like “Sarva darsanam” &”prasadam” for Rs 5 will be provided at all the 34,000 temples in the state. (Indian Express 13th April, 2008) i.e. to visit temples for Darsanam you need to pay!!

I was wondering there are not even half the numbers of secondary schools in the state!! Total number of secondary schools in Andhra Pradesh according to National Information Centre is not more than 15000 (approx.) (about 10000 in rural area & 5000 in urban area)!!!

At every street corner we have built temples but not toilets or schools & afterwards killing each other on the name of same God!! How shameful it is!! India is the only country with so many Gods, well wishers (I’ll say fake Gods) but still poor in many fields!!

In Andhra Pradesh (South India), 52 upper primary schools were operating without a building in 2002, while in 1993, there was none!!!

The sub-Saharan Africa countries where people don’t even get enough food but literacy rate is higher (61.2%) than India (61%) - Source: 2000-2004 data from the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, UNESCO (2006)!!

The Fifth All India Educational Survey (AIES) revealed that approximately 94% of the national population had access to a primary school within 1 km of their habitation (NCERT, 1990). But how many even complete primary educations? This is the main question. Isn’t it? Many teachers even register the names of students who never even see the face of schools!!

There is another worrisome part an emerging trend whereby children belonging to different social backgrounds are attending different kinds of schools. In Andhra Pradesh, there is a divide between the government primary school (GPS) located in the Dalit basti and the GPS in the forward caste hamlet — only SC students attend the former school, while the latter has very few SC students. The youth in the SC colony in the village categorically stated that even if children from the SC colony try to seek admission in the other GPS, they are discouraged and told to attend the school in their own colony. A similar divide was observed in Tamil Nadu between the GPS and the schools run by the Adi-Dravida Welfare Board. (From “Beyond the numbers” study conducted by Vimala Ramachandran)

A school (from Greek scholeion) is an institute designed to allow and encourage students to learn. What these Indian schools will encourage where students don’t even find teachers in the schools (A survey showed about 25% teachers were not present at school time & another half was busy with other than educational activities like making voting cards & doing some surveys)!! Not much infrastructure, not even buildings!! What will encourage students here?? But how shameful that our Govts are more concerned about the salaries of temple employees & in building houses for them!! Govts themselves don’t want to give much intention towards education as most of them consider this is not profitable business!!

How is India doing in terms of the common measures of schooling quality, namely school facilities and teacher effort? The Public Report on Basic Education (PROBE Team, 1999) was the first serious evidence-based study of the state of primary schooling quality in India. It is based on a survey of schooling facilities in 242 villages across five north Indian states Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh in 1996. PROBE found very poor school infrastructure, e.g. 26% of schools did not have a blackboard in every classroom, 52% had no playground, 59% no drinking water, 89% no toilet, 59% no maps or charts, 75% no toys, 77% no library and 85% no musical instruments (PROBE Team, 1999).

India’s economic growth rates have generated much hype about its general economic development. But has there been accompanying progress in indicators of educational outcomes? How good are Indian educational achievements in relation to China’s, the country with which India has habit of being compared? What are the most significant developments in Indian school education and what has been the impact of various education policy initiatives? There is big question mark over all these & many other questions!!

Build more Toilets rather than Temples!!

It’s to be kept in mind that most of the diseases/deaths are caused by polluted drinking water. Less than 50% of India's population has toilets in their homes. Our cities look like extended slums, towns are filthy dumps and villages often smell strongly like excreta. It’s interesting to note Hindus consider cleanliness important but task of cleanliness impure, lower!! Don’t this contradicting?

In the book "Area of Darkness" (written in 1964) V.S. Naipaul explores an extremely dark account of India and details how dirty the country is. Naipaul in his books writes that elsewhere in world approach to villages through countryside is a pleasant experience but not in India where visitor to villages is welcomed by smell of human excreta. He observed it in decades of 70s but it is still true in most of villages in India.

The dry latrines and open fields that people are forced to defecate in are cleaned by “manual scavengers” – humans, 99% percent of whom are Dalits and 90% of whom are women, who are made to clean them with a simple broom and basket. In India, manual scavenging is a caste-based occupation carried out by dalits. The manual scavengers have different caste names in different parts of the country: bhangis in Gujarat, pakhis in Andhra Pradesh, and sikkaliars in Tamil Nadu.

The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act was enacted in 1993, but has proved ineffective in eliminating manual scavenging. The Act prohibits the employment of manual scavengers or construction of dry latrines not connected to proper drainage channels and violations of the provisions of the Act can lead to imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine of up to 2000 rupees. In 1989 there were 600,000 scavengers while by 1995-96 the number had increased to 787,000 (a 31.6 % increase in less than a decade). Similarly, there were 720,500,000 dry latrines in 1989, but by January 2000 the number had increased by 9,600,000. With the increase of urbanization, manual scavenging is increasing. More and more Dalits are compelled to take the job as the changing economic scenario is offering less and less jobs for them.

Gujarat’s C.M. Narendra Modi, glorifies this inhumane occupation of Dalits. In his recent book, Karmayog, Modi states, “Scavenging must have been a spiritual experience for the Valmiki caste.” He further goes on to say, “At some point in time somebody must have got enlightenment in scavenging. They must have thought that it is their duty to work for the happiness of the entire society and the Gods.”

“If this occupation is such a spiritual enlightenment experience, why doesn’t Mr. C.M. take up this job & get enlightened?”

All this & many other points show how much our own Govts are concerned on developing safe & progressing environment. Our Governments are sleeping; young people are yelling, future (children) is in dark!!

What we need!!

· New localities with amenities like hi-tech schools, sanitation, water etc for better lives of people.

· More job opportunities for poor people those are involved in manual scavenging, so as they can quit this inhuman job & can live with dignity.

· More new schools, special schools for poor children those involved in manual scavenging.

· More scholarships for poor needy students.

· There should be made provision if any manual scavenging case comes from particular area, concerned authorities should be panelized for that.

· Free books distribution for all students.


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